The first supper

Well, lunch in fact, but in an appropriately sociable get together our MacEwen Award winners celebrated their achievements for the public good

There was no big prize event with hired comedian and presenter, no booming soundtrack, no metal or plastic trophy handed over to the winners, no speeches.  The February issue of the RIBA Journal is the trophy issue, and a fine thing it is though we do say so ourselves. In tune with the spirit of the Award, we just hosted an informal lunch so our winners could meet each other, and us them.

For this occasion we chose the Rochelle Canteen at Arnold Circus – right in the heart of the first and perhaps best of the London County Council’s big social housing developments, the Boundary Estate of 1890-1900. Plus the restaurant occupies a converted school bicycle shed, opening up into a secluded courtyard.  I’d call that enlightened re-use. It is run by (Melanie) Arnold and (Margot) Henderson, and thus related to that other famous watering hole of London architects, St John in Clerkenwell, founded by Margot’s husband Fergus. Indeed Fergus turned up for his own lunch with Margot at the Rochelle while we were there, wearing his suit that looks as if it is made out of striped butchers’ aprons.

So it was all very intimate and entertaining. Here we all (most of us) are.

On the left-hand side of the table, from front to back, we have: Alice Brownfield of Peter Barber Architects (practice special mention); Kathy MacEwen, planner and daughter of Malcolm and Anni MacEwen after whom the award is named; Hugh Pearman, editor of the RIBA Journal and a judge; Martin Hall of Hall + Bednarczyk Architects (highly commended for the Welsh Water visitor and water sports centres); Claire Bennie, social housing expert and judge.

And on the right-hand side, again from front to back, we have: David Gouldstone of Peter Barber Architects; Matt Atkins and Benjamin Marks (who as students designed the reconfigured Segal-method  Oasis Children’s Venture in Stockwell, the overall MacEwen winner); Jan-Carlos Kucharek, senior editor at the RIBAJ; and Kelly Bednarczyk of Hall + Bednarczyk.

Missing from the photo is Dieter Kleiner of RCKa, responsible for the highly-commended New Generation Centre in Sydenham, London. He arrived later.

What can I add? Only that Atkins and Marks have both now got their Part IIIs and are thus qualified architects. Atkins works for 6a Architects, and Marks for Coin Street Community Builders, for whom (and also on behalf of the National Theatre)  he designed the Green Room restaurant building next to Waterloo Bridge.

It was great to meet them all, thank you all the architects and their clients who supported and helped to define our first MacEwen Award so clearly. Huge thanks also to our other judges: Amanda Levete of AL_A, Matthew Taylor, director of the RSA, and Steve Martin of RSHP. I think we might make this a regular thing.