Our annual award shows there are plenty of really imaginative projects that work to make our world better
One of the great things about the annual entry to our MacEwen Award is that it reveals projects of a kind that too often get overlooked, with both well-known and young/emerging architects and clients taking part. What we’re looking for is imaginative ways in which projects make our world better.
These, remember, are examples of 'architecture for the common good'. Socially responsible design in the built environment, as opposed to the kind of award in which the photogenic image predominates. Less aesthetics, more ethics, in other words. Sometimes there is little in the way of visible built architecture at all, but a lot of design thinking and project enabling has taken place to make something excellent happen.
Again unlike other awards, we take the view that a number of projects which didn’t make the final cut nonetheless fully deserve to be recognised and publicised. So over the winter holiday period we’ll be tweeting the longlist of 30 projects from which our judges decided first a shortlist of a dozen, then the overall winner and commendations.
Then from Monday January 13 we shall start to reveal that shortlist, then the commendations, culminating in the revelation of our overall winner at the start of February.
All clear? Then we’ll begin. Somewhere in this alphabetically-ordered list of 30 is our eventual MacEwen winner. Scroll down. Can you guess what it is?
Argal workshops, Falmouth
Architect: Gluckman Smith
A Cornish former farmstead, previously derelict, is transformed into rural workshops for furniture and product designer James Smith Designs, to Passivhaus standards, so making a new working community.
Artists Studios, Sway, Hampshire
Architect: PAD Studio
Five light-touch artists studios designed for art charity SPUDworks at the Artsway complex. These little well-lit studios are built on a jackpad system, with no groundworks or foundations needed.
Beacon of Light, Sunderland
A double-decker community football centre right next to Sunderland FC’s stadium. Top deck is a ‘football barn' – pitch under a translucent roof; bottom deck is an events hall and community/education spaces.
Castlebank horticultural training centre, Lanark
What began as a collection of neglected and derelict outbuildings behind Castlebank House has become a thriving horticultural training centre, a very popular, much used and valuable community resource.
Centenary Square Birmingham
Architect: Graeme Massie Architects
Much improved public space. The redevelopment of Centenary Square, completed in July 2019, creates a dynamic and inspiring city square in central Birmingham and a venue for its cultural, civic and leisure events.
Commonweal Pods, London and beyond
Architect: Reed Watts
The Commonweal Pods are a series of simple, pre-fabricated, plywood sleeping structures designed for rough sleepers to use in night shelters. They give users privacy, security and somewhere to store their belongings.
The Fife Arms, Braemar
Architect: Moxon Architects
The Fife Arms, an old coaching inn in the Scottish village of Braemar, has been restored to its former glory as the centre of the community after an extensive four-year programme of regeneration and restoration.
Forgotten Veterans HQ, Portsmouth
Architect: Deniz Beck Partners
Forgotten Veterans UK is a charity that provides essential support and guidance for Service veterans and their families and supporters. The converted spaces for their use consist of a collection of renovated casemates within Fort Cumberland alongside the charity’s main office.
Grand Junction at St Mary Paddington
Architect: Dow Jones Architects
This project transforms an under-used grade I listed church physically, socially and culturally, putting the building back in the service of the local people by means of a new built insertion with flexible spaces for a range of community uses.
Greatham Creek Seal and Bird Hide, Middlesbrough
Architect: Students at Leeds Beckett University, led by architect Nick Tyrer
The project is a student-led live project for two wildlife hides in Greatham Creek nature reserve in north east England. They were built as the final stage of a £16million flood alleviation scheme outside of Middlesbrough and are 'functional sculptures'.
Hatch startup business centre, Manchester
Architect: Planit-ie (landscape)
Hatch is an award-winning addition to Manchester's thriving cultural scene. It is a creative low-budget urban village with retail and leisure at its core, located under the iconic Mancunian Way flyover, in the heart of the city’s Innovation District.
Higham Hill theatre, Walthamstow
The project is a small community amphitheatre in Higham Hill Park in Walthamstow, part of Waltham Forest‘s Making Places initiative to deliver public realm improvement works to every ward in the borough.
Maggie's Centre, Oldham, Manchester
Built in the tough context of the Royal Oldham Hospital, Maggie’s Oldham welcomes and lifts the spirts, enabling people to draw on hidden strengths in order to cope with the many demands of living with cancer. Landscape focussed, it is the first hardwood CLT building in the world.
Manor Farm community land housing, Cambridge
Architect: Haysom Ward Miller Architects
A community land trust housing development based on historic precedents that cross-subsidises affordable rural housing, workshops and amenity spaces from the sale of market-rate homes.
Margate Caves improvements
Architect: Kaner Olette
Margate Caves is a community-led initiative to re-open the historic caves to the public and engage the local community with workshops, events and volunteering. A new entrance visitor centre with café does the job elegantly.
Marmalade Lane cohousing, Cambridge
Architect: Mole Architects
Marmalade Lane is the UK's largest cohousing development with 41 homes. It marks the culmination of 10 years’ work by the cohousing group and is a flagship of the custom-build and community-led housing movement.
Neuron Pod, Whitechapel
Architect: aLL Design
Neuron Pod is a standalone extension to Centre of the Cell’s (CotC) community engagement programme at the Blizard Institute, a Will Alsop design in Tower Hamlets. Neuron Pod is instrumental in widening participation in science to more young people in the area.
October Books, Southampton
Architect: Darren Bray, Studio B.A.D
October Books is a non-profit co-operative radical neighbourhood independent book shop. Working in a collaborative consortium with a local homeless charity, it bought a former bank to develop in a unique joint project.
Park Palace Ponies, Liverpool
Architect: Harrison Stringfellow
Somewhat surreally, ponies trot round an arena in a half derelict former music hall/cinema in Liverpool’s Dingle. Learning to ride and care for horses in the middle of a city provides skills and engagement for young people, in a strategy established by the architects.
Potemkin Theatre, Haggerston
Architect: Maich Swift
This small theatre is the third of the Architecture Foundation’s annual Antepavilion competitions. Self-built, it provided valuable construction skills for architecture students and volunteers and has staged a series of popular events.
Riverside Primary School outdoor classroom, Plymouth
Architect: University of Plymouth architecture students
An outdoor learning space, incorporating a fire-pit as a focal gathering point. Made of recycled materials and providing shelter from the wind, it has revitalised a neglected outdoor area on this primary school’s campus.
Shaftesbury Hall, Bounds Green, London
Architect: Mulroy Architects
The new Shaftesbury Hall provides a purpose-built helpline facility for the North London Samaritans and a hall for the local community on the site of a derelict 'tin tabernacle', originally for railway workers. The new building echoes the form and materials of the old.
Shelter From the Storm homeless shelter, London
Architect: Holland Harvey Architects
Shelter From the Storm is a homeless shelter provided in a former housing estate supermarket. It provides 42 beds, freshly cooked food and support to its guests to help them get back on their feet, plus a public café.
Soil Association HQ, Bristol
Architect: Askew Cavanna Architects
The Soil Association is the leading organic food and farming charity. The architect has designed new permanent offices with a public face in a light-touch refurbishment of a 1960s building.
St Agnes Lodge refuge, Bristol
Architect: Askew Cavanna Architects
The Green House is a Bristol based charity providing support for children and adults that have experienced sexual abuse. Their new larger home re-uses a former park keeper’s lodge on the initiative of the architects.
The Ark children’s hospice, Barnet
Architect: Squire and Partners
The Ark is a new highly-sustainable facility for Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice, designed to support children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families. It is the first new hospice building in London for 10 years.
Torriano Primary School STEM lab, London
Architect: Hayhurst and Co
Perched at the top of a Victorian school building, this science and tech lab remodels a previously unused two-storey ‘turret’ and the creation of a small, shiny roof-top extension with external learning terrace and living wall. It feels a bit magical.
Ty Pawb cultural centre, Wrexham
Architect: Featherstone Young
Tŷ Pawb (Everybody’s House) is a new model for an arts venue designed by architects Featherstone Young, which relocates Oriel Wrecsam (Wrexham Gallery) and involves the ingenious repurposing of an existing purpose-built 1980s multi-storey car park and market hall.
Urban Room, Reading University
Architect: Invisible Studio
The third pavilion that the practice has completed with architecture students at the University of Reading using home-grown timber, it hosted a six week programme of events and debates and will become an outdoor classroom for a local primary school.
Windmill Green office retrofit, Manchester
Architect: TP Bennett
A long-vacant 1970s office building has been transformed in a deep retrofit keeping the original concrete frame. It is the first multi-let office building in the city to achieve BREEAM Outstanding.