The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (22 June) announced the 30 winners of the 2023 RIBA National Awards for architecture.
The awards, which have been presented since 1966, recognise the UK’s best new buildings and provide insight into the country’s architecture, design and social trends.
From an intricately patterned extension to a listed synagogue (Manchester Jewish Museum) and a fish bone-shaped bridge in a community park (Swing Bridge), to the remodelling of a theatre to create an immersive cabaret experience (The Kit Kat Club) – this year’s winning projects showcase the extraordinary breadth and brilliance of UK architecture today.
Key themes among this year’s award winners include:
Building communities in a post-pandemic world
This year’s awards feature a range of generous buildings that enrich their communities, creating opportunities for people to connect.
The University of Warwick - Faculty of Arts brings students from all arts disciplines together under one roof for the first time, offering dynamic and open spaces that foster collaboration. The John Morden Centre in Greenwich provides older people with homes, stimulating social spaces and care facilities, and in north east London, Lea Bridge Library Pavilion extends an Edwardian public library to provide an engaging new community café space overlooking a garden.
In Birmingham, a development of mews houses enclose a communal garden, deliberately blurring the boundary between private and public space to promote a sense of community (Brick House). In east London, an innovative and affordable live/work model, provides resident artists with spaces to deliver free creative programmes for the neighbourhood (A House for Artists).
The refurbishment and extension of a gym in London’s Holborn has created a more accessible and visible community building (Great Things Lie Ahead) And two award winners form part of a wider regeneration plan in London’s Camden – Central Somers Town Community Facilities and Housing includes a post-school club and adventure playground, whilst Edith Neville Primary School replaces a dilapidated 1970s building, and extends the surrounding parkland.
RIBA’s National Awards continue to evolve to encourage best practice in sustainable development. All the projects have been ‘in use’ for at least one year and have submitted data demonstrating their environmental performance.
Examples of sustainable design and development include the regeneration of the Agar Grove Estate in Camden, described as being ‘on track’ to becoming the UK’s largest Passivhaus (an outstanding energy efficiency standard) scheme. An extension to a traditional 17th century longhouse set in the Brecon Beacons, is an exceptional example of using locally sourced materials and workmanship, designed to minimise environmental impact (Pen y Common); and in the historic Woolwich Arsenal, a series of Grade II listed buildings have been reinvented as a flexible arts venue – reinvention in action (The Fireworks Factory).
Commenting on the winning projects, RIBA President, Simon Allford, said:
“At this time, when building collaboratively and working towards a sustainable future are paramount, the 2023 RIBA National Award winners offer a rich source of inspiration. Each project looks, in its own way, to address both its client brief and the wider role architecture can play in serving society.
Among the winners are a number of projects that offer a model for an architecture that is more widely responsible. These buildings intelligently illustrate the potential of well-designed spaces to bring people together and, ultimately, architecture’s power to change our world for the better.
Our awards are a marker of progressive excellence in sustainable design, very much aligned with our wider commitment to a low carbon future. These are examples of forward thinking and ingenuity that raise the bar for us all.”
The 2023 RIBA National Award winners are:
- A House for Artists by Apparata Architects (Barking, London)
Flexible live/work space for 12 artists. In exchange for reduced rent, they deliver free creative programmes for the neighbourhood through a street-facing, glass-walled community hall and outdoor exhibition space.
- Agar Grove Phase 1b by Mæ, (Camden, London)
Model of low-energy, Passivhaus social housing. This project seeks to reduce operating costs, while creating dynamic apartments appropriate for family living. 57 new homes are arranged in three blocks around a paved courtyard, providing communal amenity, play and gardening space.
- Blackbird by Nicholas Lyons of _and-lyons-architects with Hamish Herford (Gloucestershire)
New pavilion home and lake in the Cotswolds. A low, dark oversailing roof and charred wood cladding belie the sense of awe and light that awaits inside this home designed for a couple in which to enjoy gardening and artistic pursuits.
- Bloqs by 5th Studio (Enfield, London)
Slick and bright redevelopment of an industrial shed into a buzzing social enterprise including workshops for individuals working in design and manufacturing.
- Brick House by Howells Architects (Birmingham, West Midlands)
Bold and ambitious development of 37 mews houses, centred around a communal garden and historic canal.
- Central Somers Town Community Facilities and Housing by Adam Khan Architects (Camden, London)
Part of a larger masterplan this project includes a flexible community children’s facility, adventure playground and several housing units for social rent.
- Courtauld Connects - The Courtauld Institute of Art by Witherford Watson Mann Architects (London)
Part of a multi-phase project that aims to open up the institution both physically and culturally. This phase includes the reworking of the entrance, a beautiful new stair down to basement visitor facilities; and re-levelling and opening up the 18th century vaults.
- Cuddymoss, Ann Nisbet Studio (Ayrshire, Scotland)
New home built inside and around a 200 year-old ruined building, previously used to house people and cattle. A simple timber-clad second building, connects to the ruin by a glazed link and provides additional space bringing the building gently back to life as a beautiful home.
- Edith Neville Primary School by Hayhurst & Co Architects (Camden, London)
At the core of Camden’s first phase of regeneration for the Somers Town estate, this school replaced a previous dilapidated building. The new building and boundary have been thoughtfully designed to extend the surrounding parkland landscape.
- Great Things Lie Ahead, 2020, Holborn House by 6a architects (Holborn, London)
Refurbishment and extension of a gym to provide a new, more visible and accessible community building. The old basement has been stripped back to its concrete structure and opened to the sky, with new rooflights over a multipurpose hall, and a two-storey street-facing extension providing a new entrance and function spaces.
- Hanover by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (Mayfair, London)
Complex of five mixed-use buildings and generous public spaces above the new Elizabeth Line Bond Street station entrance. The project involved the restoration and conservation of a series of historic facades along New Bond Street, retained and providing new office space behind.
- Hill House by McGonigle McGrath (County Down, Northern Ireland)
Located on the gently sloping southern side of the Lagan Valley, this highly accomplished and beautifully crafted new family home relates strongly to its external landscape and topography.
- Hundred Acre Wood, Denizen Works (Argyll and Bute, Scotland)
Set within a stunning landscape overlooking Loch Awe, this new build family home is clad in recycled TV screens and features a central hall space designed to accommodate an 18-ft Christmas tree. Architect and client conversations focused on the history of Scottish architecture and inspiration was drawn from the sculptural works of Eduardo Chillida, which evoke the sense of a carved solid mass.
- Hushh House by Elliott Architects (North Yorkshire)
Bespoke new home arranged as a series of interlinked composed spaces that are separated by small courtyards. The building sits in the former grounds of an existing larger property and develops the previous walled tennis court.
- John Morden Centre by Mæ (Greenwich, London)
Day centre for a later-living residential charity. The timber and brick building includes a medical centre, café, lounges and offices. A meandering timber ‘spine’ forms an enclosed forest-like walkway stitching together a series of brick ‘pavilions’, expertly combining recreational and more tricky medical facilities without feeling institutional.
- Laidlaw Music Centre by University of St Andrews, Flanagan Lawrence (Fife, Scotland)
This is a considerate and well composed addition to the city’s ancient centre, complementing its listed neighbours. Alongside the suite of rehearsal and practice spaces contained within the building, the main performance space incorporates two world firsts for a chamber hall: a fully mechanised floor beneath it and a reverberation chamber above.
- Lavender Hill Courtyard Housing by Sergison Bates architects (Clapham, London)
Tucked away down a timber-lined passageway, barely visible at the end of a Clapham mews, Lavender Hill Courtyard has redeveloped a former sheet-metal workshop into nine apartments, arranged around a courtyard space and a timber-decked terrace on the first floor.
- Lea Bridge Library Pavilion by Studio Weave (Waltham Forest, London)
Built at the rear of a charming Edwardian red-brick public library, this relatively modest multi-function extension sensitively complements the existing building, bringing very useful additional space to an important community facility and new life to a charming but neglected historic garden.
- Manchester Jewish Museum by Citizens Design Bureau (Greater Manchester)
This new museum, clad in perforated Corten steel, comprises a gallery space, archive, learning space, and visitor amenities adjoining a fully renovated Grade II*-listed former synagogue. Standing on the busy Cheetham Hill road in the heart of Manchester, it both serves and celebrates the local Jewish community.
- Middle Avenue by Rural Office (Farnham, Surrey)
Set on a corner plot in the conservation areas of a garden suburb this adaptable home pays homage to the local architecture and the design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement. Throughout the house, inside and out, great care has gone into the detailing and craftsmanship.
- Pen y Common, Nidus Architects and Rural Office (Hay-on-Wye, Wales)
Sympathetic extension to a traditional 17th-century Welsh longhouse. ‘Thinking local’ has driven the project, with timber and stone and skills sourced from the close vicinity.
- Radley College Chapel Extension, Purcell Architecture Limited (Purcell), (Oxford)
Contemporary extension and refurbishment of a listed chapel to increase capacity. The approach creates a new sanctuary and small ‘apses’ and improves the chapel’s acoustics.
- Rhossili House, Maich Swift Architects (Rhossili, Wales)
New family house on an exposed clifftop. From the outside, the two-storey, pitched-roof, white-rendered composition is a familiar coastal motif. Internally, the clever positioning of windows, of various proportions, offers moments of difference and intrigue.
- Saltmarsh House, Niall McLaughlin Architects (Isle of Wight)
Conceived as a delicate steel-frame pavilion, this new home takes reference from the repeating pitched-roofed glasshouses that once graced the kitchen gardens of the Grade II-listed Victorian house, in the grounds of which the project sits.
- Spruce House and Studio, ao-ft (Walthamstow, London)
New home and design studio constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT) on an infill site. The façade is reimagined as a shopfront, with the ground floor fully glazed behind slatted timber shuttering. This distinctive design feature continues into the interior with a series of slatted privacy screens offering glimpses through the house to the garden beyond.
- Swing Bridge, Tonkin Liu (Crystal Palace Park, London)
This elegant bridge provides secure access to a world-renowned collection of life-size dinosaur sculptures. The laser-cut structure references the iconography of a bony fish, negating the need for gates and fences.
- Taylor & Chatto Courts and Wilmott Court Frampton Park Estate, Henley Halebrown (Hackney, London)
Taylor and Chatto Courts accommodate 16 social-rent and four shared-ownership homes in three 5-storey ‘villas’, whilst Wilmott Court’s ‘palazzo’ plan creates a new urban block with 15 shared-ownership and 10 private-tenure homes.
- The Fireworks Factory at Woolwich Works, Bennetts Associates (London)
Flexible arts venue within a large Grade II listed building complex within the historic Woolwich Arsenal. The historic building has been stripped back with new interventions and upgrading to support a wide range of arts-based functions including performance spaces, dance studios, artists’ workshops, cafés and rental spaces
- The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre, Carmody Groarke (London)
Repurposing the Grade II-listed theatre in order to stage a new, immersive production of the musical Cabaret. Carmody Groarke have created a faux Weimar 1920s ambiance. Transforming the normal front-door arrival sequence, taking visitors past actors’ changing rooms and a number of bars, the project sets the scene even before the curtain is lifted.
- University of Warwick - Faculty of Arts, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (West Midlands)
Impressive new building brings together the departments and schools of the arts faculty under a single roof for the first time. The new building draws inspiration from the site’s parkland context. Four pavilion buildings are connected by a feature staircase, inspired by the structure of a tree, that organically grows through the central atrium space, each branch helping to demarcate various communal spaces to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. At the base of the stair, it splays to form an amphitheatre that activates the ground floor and addresses the main entrance.
Notes to editors:
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- The RIBA Awards have been running since 1966 and are judged and presented locally. No matter the shape, size, budget or location, RIBA Award winning schemes set the standard for great architecture all across the country. RIBA Awards are for buildings in the UK by RIBA Chartered Architects and RIBA International Fellows.
- Entries are submitted to the region or nation in which the building is situated. Projects are judged first for RIBA Regional Awards, then RIBA National Awards; the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist is selected from winners of the RIBA National Awards.
- The RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist will be announced on 6 September and the winner will be announced live in Manchester at the Stirling Prize ceremony on 19 October 2023. Tickets are available to buy at https://www.architecture.com/whats-on/riba-stirling-prize-2023-ceremony. The Stirling Prize is sponsored by Autodesk.
- The 2023 RIBA National Awards are sponsored by Forterra. Forterra is a leading manufacturer of a diverse range of concrete and clay building products. The company employs approximately 1,800 people in the UK, across 17 manufacturing facilities. For press information contact: email Katie Graham at Unsworth Sugden firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Rowley email@example.com or call 0116 247 1777.
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