RIBA has named The Water Tower by Tonkin Liu as the winner of the Stephen Lawrence Prize 2021.
Originally an industrial steel water tower, the building has been reinvented and restored to create a unique rural family home. The landmark masterfully retains much of the original metal structure; inside a spiral timber staircase and lift lead to the original water tank, which has become a cantilevered, open-plan living space. It has adaptable interiors, including seating that can be moved around the main tank room.
The Water Tower is an ingenious eco-build that accommodates its natural setting, utilising its roof terrace and room placements to overlook and appreciate the surrounding Norfolk countryside.
The Prize was established in 1998 in memory of Stephen Lawrence, a teenager who was on his way to becoming an architect when he was tragically murdered in 1993. Supported and founded by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, the Prize aims to encourage new architectural talent, celebrating and rewarding projects with a construction budget of less than £1 million. The winner is provided with a £5,000 bursary.
Marco Goldschmied said:
“The Water Tower demonstrates how buildings can be saved and enlivened through expert retrofitting, high-quality craftsmanship and faultless attention to detail. The jury unanimously commend Tonkin Liu – the worthy recipient of the 22nd Stephen Lawrence Prize – and their ambitious client for their creativity and dedication. With the positive support and involvement of the local community they have breathed new life into this historic rural structure to create a truly unique family home.
As we have done on three previous occasions we would also like to give a special mention and £1,000 award to Floating Church by Denizen Works, a multi-purpose church and community facility that sits upon a London narrowboat.”
Read more about The Water Tower.
Banner photo by Dennis Pedersen