The longlisted schemes, ranging from urban renewal and social enterprise to education and affordable housing, provide prime examples of architects and clients showing they care
This year’s MacEwen Award longlist, as last year, has 32 entries selected from a plethora of submissions. And, as usual, it is the projects entered that have guided us as to what constitutes ‘architecture for the common good’ as well as in finding the categories that group them together.
There are seven categories this year. Some are consistent with previous editions – workplace and social enterprise, community support, education, heritage renewal and back to nature. However, two categories are new or reframed for a slightly different set of submissions – urban renewal and affordable housing. The latter is particularly pleasing with four shortlisted entries offering solutions to our housing crisis. The most populous category, as in 2023, is community support, which has always been a primary aim of what the MacEwen Award is about: architects and clients showing they care.
You will find among the longlisted entries, churches brought back from ruin, children’s activity centres, almshouses, a new urban park and lots in between. We hope you enjoy discovering them. Join us on 16 January to see which projects made it onto our shortlist. The winners will be announced on 29 and 30 January on ribaj.com and in the February 2024 print edition of RIBA Journal.
Workplace and social enterprise
Bikeworks, Olympic Park, Stratford, London, by Foster Kirk Architects for Bikeworks
A retail unit fit-out for social enterprise and community charity Bikeworks, established in 2006 in Stratford for the Olympics to widen participation in cycling. The project introduces cork, plywood and yellow melamine to create an economic and robust design with inventive storage solutions.
Future Yard CIC, Birkenhead, by Architectural Emporium for Future Yard CIC
Music venues are the maternity wards of music cultures. Future Yard comprises an imaginative renovation of an existing building and surrounding spaces to allow a live venue, rehearsal spaces, office accommodation, shared workspaces, gallery, café bar and garden areas to operate concurrently and seamlessly for young music enthusiasts to make their first steps in live music.
Sunspot, Jaywick Sands, Essex, by HAT Projects for Tendring District Council
Sunspot is a business hub designed to bring employment opportunities to Jaywick Sands with 24 units, all fully let, as well as covered and open-air market space, a community garden, public toilets, a bus shelter, training/meeting rooms and a café. It was designed with lots of community consultation by HAT Projects and provides a visible symbol of change.
Tooting Works, Tooting, London, by alma-nac for Business Launch Pad
Tooting Works is a transformation of a previously neglected section of the local high street into a vibrant and inclusive community space. The reimagined interior offers co-working spaces, charity management space, event venues and teaching areas. The addition of an open kitchen and dining space supports the local community cooking classes and local catering initiatives.
Good Growth for Edmonton, Enfield, London, by Jan Kattein Architects for the London Borough of Enfield
A four-strand regeneration initiative that responds to people’s most pressing social needs by making space for culture, play and work in an area where residents experience incomes among the lowest 10 per cent in England. The project comprises the Living Room Library, 35 affordable workspaces for young entrepreneurs, new wildlife habitat areas and a high street public mural programme.
The Paper Garden, Canada Water, London, by Jan Kattein Architects for Global Generation
A garden and educational community building to involve young people, families and schools in ecology projects. The building takes a radical approach to sustainability, including 60 per cent reused materials such as reclaimed railway sleepers donated by Network Rail, floors made from 200 doors rescued from a police station and upcycled construction hoarding and walls made from cordwood.
Sheerness Dockyard Church, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, by Hugh Broughton Architects with Martin Ashley Architects for Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust
A £9.5 million rescue of a Grade II* listed Georgian church that had been on Historic England’s ‘Heritage At Risk’ register following deconsecration in 1970 and a fire in 2001. The project has transformed the building into a subsidised business incubator for young people to establish financial independence through entrepreneurship and will include an exhibition area, café and events space.
Waltham Forest Town Hall, Walthamstow, London, by Hawkins\Brown (Gort Scott for stages 1-2) for London Borough of Waltham Forest
A £21.9 million project to open the town hall, enhance its heritage, transform the workspace and celebrate Waltham Forest, including a lively public square, flexible foyer and civic suites. Up to 500 visitors visit on a sunny weekday afternoon and up to 1,000 on a sunny weekend, at a time when many councils are converting their historic town halls into luxury homes, hotels, or workspaces.
Aqueduct Cottage, Cromford Canal, Derbyshire, by James Boon Architects for Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust
The rescue and restoration of a 1802 lockkeeper’s cottage on the Cromford Canal. The cottage fell into a state of disrepair and was at risk of being forgotten. It was bought by local residents as part of the Lea Wood Trust in 1997, beginning its process of rehabilitation. The restored cottage is now a much-admired visitor attraction, appealing due to the authenticity of the restoration.
Hornsey Library, Crouch End, London by Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture for Haringey Council
The updating and upgrading of an existing 1960s Grade II-listed library to make it fit for future use. The key challenge was to radically improve its environmental performance without causing harm to the building’s heritage significance, while providing the contemporary facilities expected of a modern-day library, including clever alterations to the children’s library.
St Mary Magdalene Church Re-ordering, Tanworth-in Arden, by Communion Architects for St Mary Magdalene Church
The Re-ordering project aims to make the Grade I St Mary Magdalene Church more accessible and future-proofed. The process of reordering the space involved working collaboratively with the parochial parish council. The scheme improves accessibility, provides a larger space for flexible use, improves facilities for serving refreshments and creates additional toilet provision.
The Fitzherbert Community Hub, Brighton, by Stead & Co Architects for The Fitzherbert Community Hub
A refurbished and extended building that provides flexible space for a client that comprises the East Brighton Catholic Parish, Voices in Exile, The Real Junk Food Project and Brighton Table Tennis Club. Overlapping uses provide facilities for a community that includes refugees, food bank users and vulnerable people, including being able to serve 300 hot meals compared to 50 previously.
St James Community Farm, West Belfast, Northern Ireland, by MMAS for Belfast City Council and St James’ Forum
A much-loved grassroots community-led initiative to create an urban farmyard in West Belfast. The design uses prefabricated modular forms clad in reflective metal and self-built found timber to create a simple mono-pitched building conducive for growing, playing and events as well as animals. A dramatic colonnade of V-shaped timber posts supports a projecting roof on the inner elevation.
Loop the Loop, Balsall Heath Library, Birmingham, by Intervention Architecture and collaborators for Moseley Road Baths CIO
Loop the Loop is a multisensory pavilion as part of the Moseley Road Baths’ Diving In activity programme, aimed at promoting social inclusion through exploring textures and objects at different scales, breaking down barriers to learning for those with disabilities, and inviting them to occupy the library space to suit their needs, have lots of fun and, if they want, make noise.
Magheralin Community Garden, County Down, by Waddington McClure Architects for Magheralin Parish Church
A neglected field to the rear of the church was originally earmarked for an extension to the graveyard but, over time, had become a dumping area. Waddington-McClure’s design creates an inclusive garden for community events and group projects, providing opportunities for relaxation and fun but also a focus for reflection and contemplation, bringing social and environmental benefits.
MLK Adventure Play building, Holloway, London, by Paper House Project for Islington Council
The reopening and a new play building for the Martin Luther King Adventure Playground, one of Islington's oldest and most popular adventure playgrounds. In 2018, the site was closed following the demolition of the previous play building, which had become unsafe and irreparable. The design was informed by community events, including a wraparound terrace and the colour of the cladding.
The Living Room, Sway, Hampshire, by Delve Architects for SPUD
The Living Room is a new space for promoting health and wellbeing in Sway in the New Forest. The pavilion is dedicated to enabling creative collaborations with a diverse community, including older people, those living with dementia and LGBTQ+ young people. The project has been primarily funded through donations, and equipped to offer the opportunity to work alongside artists in a positive, safe environment.
Hope Street, Southampton, by Snug Architects for One Small Thing
Hope Street provides a trauma-informed alternative to custodial sentences for women and their children and is conceived as a home rather than an institution. The Hub contains a coffee shop, activity rooms, counselling space, shared communal lounges, offices and a recovery suite, a rear residential building contains eight shared flats for up to 24 women and their children.
Bluebird, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, by SKArchitects for Homeless Action Resource Project (HARP)
The outcome of a five-year journey to increase and improve accommodation provisions for people experiencing homelessness. Bluebird provides an additional 50 bed spaces through a renovated terrace of properties fronting the street and the building of a new 35-bed Passivhaus-certified gas-free mews housing development to the rear.
Nottingham Energiesprong (Pilots and Phases 1–3), Sneinton and Radford, Nottingham, by Studio Partington for Energiesprong UK (formerly Nottingham City Homes)
Project to upgrade 136 occupied council properties into desirable, warm, and affordable homes, tackling both climate change and fuel poverty. The scheme adopts the Dutch Energiesprong approach, undertaken over 12 days while people stay living in their homes. Performance upgrades have delivered social value of up to £4,500 a year for each 1960s non-traditional concrete cross-wall home.
More's Meadow Almshouses, Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire, by Haysom Ward Miller Architects and Emily Haysom Landscape Architecture for Great Shelford Village Charity
A development of 21 new almshouses for Great Shelford Village Charity, including a mix of one-to-three-bedroom homes arranged around a green. The site is set within 3.5ha of land, owned by the charity, on the edge of the village. The development includes new allotments, a community garden with accessible raised beds, a meadow and 250 new native trees, all open to the public.
Citizens House, Sydenham, London, by Archio for London Community Land Trust
Citizens House provides 11 genuinely and permanently affordable homes for local people. It is the first community land trust in London directly created by the community using London CLT’s unique affordability model. The project started as a campaign by local people through Lewisham Citizens, part of Citizens UK, and also opens up an existing pedestrian route into a new shared public space.
Grenfell Early Years Nursery, Latimer Road, London, by Perkins&Will for Grenfell Early Years Nursery
Refurbishment and extension project of the nursery relocated from the basement of the Grenfell Tower after the fire. The scheme transforms what was once a cramped, cluttered and dark multi-level space, into a place of light, openness and colour to make a new permanent home. It breathes new life into the neighbourhood and supports its journey of healing.
Central Foundation Boys’ School, London, by Hawkins\Brown for Central Foundation Boys’ School
Transformation of an inner-city non-selective comprehensive school campus. Through a decade-long partnership – which included extensive engagement – the project unlocked significant financial and logistical challenges to provide 13,000m2 of much-needed upgrades, including refurbishment, restoration and new laboratories, performing arts spaces and a subterranean sports hall.
Back to nature
Leith Community Croft Pavilion, Leith, Edinburgh, by Simpson & Brown for Earth in Common
The project rescued a dilapidated 1914 tennis pavilion at risk of being lost forever on two acres (0.8ha) of common good land. This former wasteland is managed by Earth in Common (EIC), which transformed it into a thriving community growing space. The charity encourages ‘green’ food production, a sharing ethos, nature play, and wildlife habitats.
The Barn, Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses, London, by Feilden Fowles Architects for Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses
A barn providing a flexible community hub in place of a dilapidated potting shed. The project includes a commercial and teaching kitchen, a teaching space and an event space as well as an accessible covered entrance, WCs and storage. The building enables the organisation to expand its educational and commercial activities, make better use of its team of 200 volunteers and extend its reach.
The Gathering Place, Inverness, by KHBT in collaboration with Sans façon for the Highland Council
A public space intervention encircles a portion of the River Ness along the water edge on both banks. The project acts as a draw and monument to the social and natural heritage of the river and celebrates its distinct character. It creates a moment of interaction and allows gathering that reflects the natural setting.
Maindee Triangle, Newport, Wales, by KHBT Architects & Designers for Maindee Unlimited
A low-cost transformation of derelict public WCs into a community space, initiated by Maindee Unlimited, a charity that aims to reinvigorate the community and its businesses by improving street environments and green spaces. The project crafts an efficient contemporary public space as well as community uses, incorporating rainwater harvesting for on-site toilets and watering the plants.
Mayfield Park, Manchester, by The Mayfield Partnership and Studio Egret West for LandsecU+I
The new 2.5ha park is the first part of a wider regeneration of brownfield land in the city centre. It provides 11,000m2 of soft landscape that supports bird, fish, pollinating insect and bat populations. The diverse planting strategy includes 140 native and non-native mature trees of 43 species, 120,000 wildflowers, shrubs and flowering plants, and opens up 365m of the River Medlock.
The Blue Market, Bermondsey, London, by Hayatsu Architects and Assemble for The Blue Bermondsey BID
A renewal of a historic marketplace for a multiheaded client. The design sought to make the market more locally specific in its appearance, character and materiality, and better connected via new cut-through routes, wayfinding, and a stronger link to the high street through a series of shopfront improvements and community murals.
Nag’s Head Market, Islington, London, by Office S&M Architects for Nag’s Head Market
A six-year project to incrementally upgrade an early 1990s covered market through seven separate planning applications. Entrances have been overhauled to assist wayfinding while a new 900m2 mezzanine accommodates a food hall. Nag’s Head has 48 businesses, which are over 50 per cent female owned. Some traders pay lower rent now than before the work started.
Brixton House, Brixton, London, by Foster Wilson Size for London Borough Of Lambeth/Brixton House
Brixton House is the new home of Ovalhouse Theatre. Foster Wilson Size has worked with the Ovalhouse theatre on plans for a new home since 2008. The building includes additional floors for music studios, offices and a university performing arts department as well as start-up spaces for arts organisations in the adjacent Victorian Carlton Mansions, renovated as part of the project.