The Old Market Square in Nottingham by Gustafson Porter has won the inaugural RIBA CABE Public Space Award.
The announcement was made on Saturday 11 October at a special awards ceremony for the RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects' Journal at the BT Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool. The winner was announced by Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the winning practice was presented with a cheque for £5,000 by CABE's Chief Executive Richard Simmons.
The RIBA CABE Public Space Award celebrates publicly accessible external space. It may be green or grey, urban or rural, privately or publicly owned, designed or re-designed and re-furbished for public use. It might be a street, a square, a park or even a corner, as well what is more conventionally thought of a 'space between buildings.'
The new square achieves a successful balance between creating its own identity and providing a flexible space for public amenity and civic and cultural events. The old square adopted a strict geometric orientation towards the Council House; the new layout is less structured, providing a more fluid, inviting public space. The previous listed design acted as a deterrent to public access with the vast majority of people avoiding crossing the space due to the many steps and low walls. The new design improves disabled access and allows the surrounding buildings both to complement each other and stand out individually for their architectural character
Speaking about the building, Sarah Gaventa, Director of CABE Space (sponsors of the prize) and one of the judging panel, said:
"With a history going back 800 years this large space retains its own distinctiveness and sense of place through its sympathetic response to existing site conditions. The presence of traffic and trams to two sides of the square provides connections to the wider area without compromising the visual integrity of the central space. The new square is also doing much to rid the city of its violent image in the media. The community has clearly given life to the square with the diverse activities and human interaction acting as a constant cabaret and source of visual excitement. It is a worthy first winner of this important new award."
The other shortlisted buildings for the award were:
1. Royal Festival Hall, London by Allies and Morrison, Landscape Architects Goss Max, Masterplanners Rick Mather Architects
2. Royal Observatory, London also by Allies and Morrison