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RIBA Reinvention Award

Houlton School

RIBA Reinvention Award 2023

The Reinvention Award recognises achievement in the creative reuse of existing buildings through transformative projects

Houlton School wins first Reinvention Award

The Royal Institute of British Architects has named Houlton School in Rugby, Warwickshire by van Heyningen & Haward Architects' (vHH) as the winner of its first-ever Reinvention Award. 

The award recognises buildings that have been creatively reused to improve their environmental, social, or economic sustainability– increasing the longevity and energy efficiency of existing buildings and reducing the need for demolition and new construction.  

The jury noted how careful conservation and sensitive interventions – including the restoration of degraded  building fabrics and sourcing of locally produced materials – have created a dynamic learning environment for students, while skilfully retaining the building’s industrial scale and grandeur.  

James McCosh, Principal of van Heyningen and Haward Architects, said:  

“We are delighted to have won the inaugural RIBA Reinvention Award. Houlton School shows how our creative approach to the retrofit of historic buildings has delivered the highest architectural quality, enriching people’s lives, and minimising carbon emissions. This award recognises a fantastic team effort, with client, consultants and contractors rising to our high aspirations, enthusiastically supported by Urban & Civic throughout, and the real benefits of retrofit.” 

Simon Allford, Immediate Past President and Chair of the RIBA Reinvention Award, said:   

“Creating a new place that fosters a sense of belonging and community is a great challenge that Houlton School successfully addresses: connecting a modern and vibrant new learning environment with the physical and cultural history of its place and serving as a vital bridge from the past to the future."   

About the shortlist

Eligible projects reused an existing building or structure, supplied carbon and operational energy where applicable, and demonstrated how the project had improved the building or structure by achieving one or more of the sustainable outcomes in RIBA’s Sustainable Outcomes Guide.

In Holborn, London, the refurbishment and extension of a community gym (Great Things Lie Ahead) provides a more visible and accessible community building that facilitates a wider range of cultural, social, and sporting activities.

In Rugby, Warwickshire, the Houlton School scheme sensitively reimagines the iconic Grade II-listed Rugby Radio Station transmitter building and creates three new state-of-the-art school blocks arranged around a central courtyard.

In Hackney, London, the renovation and extension of the Museum of the Home is informed by the rich history of its Grade I-listed alms house buildings and public gardens, providing 80% more exhibition space and 50% more public space.

Wolverhampton’s dilapidated Mitchells & Butlers Brewery, once a major employer in the city, is given new life as a civic building with exemplary design that reflects the site's rich industrial heritage (University of Wolverhampton School of Architecture and the Built Environment). 

RIBA Reinvention Award 2023 jury

Chair: Simon Allford - RIBA President

Marion Baeli - Partner at Studio PDP

Roger Harrabin - Former BBC Energy and Environment Analyst 

RIBA Awards

RIBA has been celebrating outstanding work for over 180 years. Our awards and prizes are regarded internationally as a mark of excellence, recognising the best architecture, architects, research and students.

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