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RIBA National Awards 2022 winners revealed

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Eleanor Young

The RIBA has named 29 buildings as winners of its 2022 National Awards, with a pupil referral unit among a number of education projects on the list, and a growing emphasis on energy efficiency and reuse

Twenty-nine buildings have received RIBA National Awards with two practices, Niall McLaughlin Architects and Tim Ronalds Architects, winning awards for two different projects.

Tim Ronalds Architects’ London Borough of Southwark SILS 3 in Peckham was also marked out as being one of the most challenging briefs, housing pupils who have been excluded from mainstream school. While recent BBC drama PRU (short for pupil referral unit) has brought fun to the portrayal of the challenging behaviour of pupils at such units, the buildings still have to be immensely robust and allow intense staff surveillance. Here the judges remarked on how the designs brought a measure of calmness.

  • LB Southwark SILS3.
    LB Southwark SILS3. Credit: Jim Stephenson
  • LB Southwark SILS3.
    LB Southwark SILS3. Credit: Jim Stephenson

SILS3 was one of a small number of education projects to be recognised, including three other state schools and colleges. Sectors notable by their absence include health and retail. Commercial projects getting through to this round were also lean on the ground, the two that did make it coming from opposite ends of the spectrum. 100 Liverpool Street is the radical reworking of an 80s office building for British Land by Hopkins Architects, with excellent sustainability credentials in terms of BREEAM and, more importantly, its fundamental approach to reuse. Next to the major London train terminus, it is nearly 68,000m2. In contrast, Moxon Architects' own Quarry Studios on the edge of the Cairngorms is a mere 400m2, built a lightweight construction in dialogue with the trees alongside.

  • 100 Liverpool Street.
    100 Liverpool Street. Credit: Janie Airey
  • Moxon Architects Ltd, Quarry Studios.
    Moxon Architects Ltd, Quarry Studios. Credit: Tim Soar

Coming up through the ranks are practice names like Will Gamble Architects, with Parchment Works, a house extension in Northamptonshire that drew on a sense of ruin with its brickwork; and RIBAJ MacEwen winners Surman Weston, whose Surbiton Springs house has a diagrammatic sense of clarity with a subtle materiality. We will no doubt see more of them with the RIBA House of the Year drawing on the awards list and airing on Channel 4 in the autumn.

RIBA president Simon Allford drew attention to the number and quality of new buildings fostering communities in the awards, the progress made on new solutions for energy-efficient homes and some leading examples of reuse. He said: ‘Retaining and reusing existing buildings is a crucial part of our low-carbon future and I am really encouraged to see restoration and sensitive adaptation feature so prominently this year; with buildings acknowledging their history, the needs of the present and the potential of a dynamic future.’

  • Ditton Hill House.
    Ditton Hill House. Credit: Johan Dehlin
  • The Parchment Works.
    The Parchment Works. Credit: Johan Dehlin

The list can read like a canter through history with Nissen Richards’ tower at the Viking site of Sutton Hoo, the medieval Fratry brought back to life at Carlisle Cathedral by Feilden Fowles, and Voysey’s Arts and Crafts Winsford Cottage Hospital by benjamin+beauchamp beautifully reworked as a short-term let. Not to forget the Victorian conversions and the more dramatic refurbishments of buildings from the last century.

This is the shortest National Awards list in recent years with just 29 projects across England, Northern Ireland and Scotland receiving this accolade (there were no Welsh winners). There was a strong field of Regional Award winners but only two of the regional Buildings of the Year received National Awards. It could be speculated that the shift to remote site visits brought on by Covid-19 and various lockdowns may have contributed to some designs not living up to their potential in detail.

  • Sutton Hoo.
    Sutton Hoo. Credit: Gareth Gardner
  • The Fratry.
    The Fratry. Credit: Peter Cook

Denise Bennetts, co-founder of Bennetts Associates and chair of the RIBA Awards, draws attention to the word ‘innovative’ in the judging criteria and the search for projects that are doing something differently or better. This is a high bar even when the climate emergency has set new and testing parameters to respond to. Most importantly, to reach National Awards level there is an extra quality threshold, including ensuring all the mandatory sustainability data was in hand to confirm the buildings' credentials, in addition to their other architectural merits. Says Bennetts: ‘The RIBA Awards are exemplary so National Award winners need to have a synthesis between good sustainability outcomes, a demonstrated in the data, and architectural delight.’

The National Awards are part of a pyramid of RIBA Awards which start with the Regional Awards, covered in full in RIBA Journal’s May issue, and go on up through special awards like House of the Year and the Stephen Lawrence Prize to the Stirling Prize. Bennett is confident the Stirling shortlist, when announced in July, will have a varied range of projects.

See all the latest on RIBA Awards. National Awards 2022 are sponsored by Forterra.


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