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Rising Star: Annabel Koeck

Eleanor Young

Leader of complex projects and mentor of the next generation

Annabel Koeck is a RIBAJ Rising Star 2020.
Annabel Koeck is a RIBAJ Rising Star 2020.

Associate, Grimshaw Architects
Parts 1: 2008  Part 2: 2011

Annabel Koeck’s significant contribution to Grimshaw’s comes both from her ability to lead complex projects and her contribution to office culture, says her referee Angela Dapper, principal at Grimshaw Architects. 

These complex projects include leading Grimshaw’s winning bid for the masterplan at Euston Station and leading the £1.2bn North London Heat and Power project. 

What most impressed the judges however was that Koeck was doing that in tandem with looking beyond to the next generation.


Design for refurbished community centre for Upper Norwood Library Hub.
Design for refurbished community centre for Upper Norwood Library Hub.

Within the practice she leads London’s Community Engagement Team which has had tangible results with the refurbishment of the Upper Norwood Library Hub’s community centre and money raised for a initiative among Islington’s community centres involving climate change and addressing food poverty. She is proud of how these projects also empower the young architects driving them. 

With the BCO Koeck has invited start-up founders to talk to the next generation and she is also co-founder of Scale Rule which encourages diversity in architecture, engineering and construction. Through this she has been mentoring and supporting school students, this year digitally. On top of it all she also contributes to Archdaily and the Australian Design Review. 

Judge Alex Ely says: ‘Looking at an influence beyond Grimshaw with Scale Rule and the BCO was really interesting.’

It is clear Koeck is using her leadership drive to effect positive change. 

  • Working on the Scale Rule pavilion at Broadgate. Koeck co-founded Scale Rule to promote diversity in and engagement with construction.
    Working on the Scale Rule pavilion at Broadgate. Koeck co-founded Scale Rule to promote diversity in and engagement with construction.
  • The Scale Rule pavilion in situ.
    The Scale Rule pavilion in situ.

How would you most like to improve society through architecture?

First, architects can enable circular operations: we can lobby against the use of virgin materials which are unnecessary in creating resilient, functional and attractive buildings. We can advocate the dismantling of embedded systems that restrict material reuse, from taxation to warranties. Second, the design industry has a responsibility to empower local communities. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of localism. We are uniquely placed to support community projects, from inception and stakeholder engagement to communication, spatial requirements, and tangible outputs. 

What existing building or place would you most like to tackle?

The modernisation of the post-war housing estate with community-led regeneration, to enhance community life.  

Read about more 2020 Rising Stars here


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Winter garden is latest addition to community initiative

Cullinan Studio MacEwen-shortlisted energy centre makes a north London street more attractive as it harvests heat from the Tube to power a district heating network

Plant reuses Tube’s heat to make local power

Portsmouth community centre repurposed by Pritchard Architecture from Treadgolds’ heritage buildings, tools and machinery secures MacEwen shortlist place

Community centre born out of Treadgolds’ rich remaining works

Conservation and innovative design underpins Hugo Hardy Architect’s MacEwen-shortlisted restoration and transformation of Rectory Lane Cemetery in Berkhamsted

Conservation and innovative design at restored cemetery

Glancy Nicholls regenerates a former Thornton's sweet factory as a civic amenity in Belper's Unesco heritage site to reach MacEwen Award shortlist

Former Thornton's factory regenerated as civic amenity