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Open Door

Photograph of a building and stairs with Chinese banners, flags and red lanterns

Open Door 2022

Transform buildings, treasure the past

Open Door Results

Open Door, a partnership between RIBA and British Council, is designed to promote and celebrate outstanding conservation work by emerging architects in mainland China and in the UK.

The Open Door project is aimed at architects who have been qualified for 10 years or less. It highlights the best of recent architectural heritage projects and the environmental and cultural benefits of building conservation. It also aims to foster knowledge sharing between expert practitioners in both countries, facilitating future UK-China dialogue on architecture and design.

The Open Door project is split into two categories:

  1. Renovation and repurpose of twentieth century (c. 20th) heritage buildings
  2. Historic buildings built before 1901

Learn more about the Open Door project and selection process.

The Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Ben Derbyshire, RIBA Past President and Commissioner for Historic England, assessed the entries in both streams and selected the 14 outstanding heritage projects from the UK and mainland China.

Royal Institute of British Architects logo   British Council

Finalists - Awards stream

Lianzhou Museum of Photography - inner courtyard

Lianzhou Museum of Photography

by O-office Architects/Jianxiang He and Ying Jiang

Category 1: Twentieth century heritage buildings

What marks this project as unique and inspiring is its physical and spiritual integration into the fabric and community of Lianzhou, together with its visceral beauty. The new museum was built on the site of the local sugar mill, with the purpose of revitalising the traditional downtown of Lianzhou, a remote city of northern Guangdong in South China. Find out more about Lianzhou Museum of Photography.

Watch the Lianzhou Museum of Photography video

Rooftop view of Southbank Centre and London Eye at sunset

Southbank Centre

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Category 1: Twentieth century heritage buildings

The conservation and restoration of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, and Hayward Gallery gives these democratic buildings a new lease of life for the 21st century. The refurbished buildings celebrate the uniqueness of the Southbank Centre, and truly enhance the visitor and performer experience. Find out more about Southbank Centre.

Watch the Southbank Centre video

Bristol Old Vic

Haworth Tompkins

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

This is a bold reinvention of one of Bristol’s most loved theatres, to bring it to relevance for the city today. It addresses how we read cities and how we choose to make connections both physical and relational. Through revealing and flooding daylight upon the previously hidden Georgian hulk of the theatre, the public is cleverly drawn in from the street, with a promise of discovery. Find out more about Bristol Old Vic.

Watch the Bristol Old Vic video

Coal Drops Yard

Heatherwick Studio

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

With its unusual mix of retail spaces, restaurants and bars, the stage has been set for this interesting industrial site to reinvent itself and attract a new era of ‘experiential retail’. The relatively modest Grade II listed coal drop building and its adjoining non-listed building have been sensitively refurbished back to an appropriate level of conservation-led repair. Find out more about Coal Drops Yard.

Watch the Coal Drops Yard video

Magdalen College Library

Wright & Wright Architects

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

Comprising the repair of the Buckler building, and a new build semi-subterranean library to expand library facilities to modern standards. The sensitive siting means the college quad is activated, but not dominated by the new buildings. The understated addition does not compete with, or harm the setting of the historic context, despite significantly adding to it. Find out more about Magdalen College Library.

Watch the Magdalen College Library video

Martello Tower Y

Piercy & Company

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

This award-winning conversion of a dilapidated Napoleonic sea defence tower into a contemporary home is highly respectful of both heritage and setting. A Scheduled Monument in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, it took a committed multi-disciplinary team to ensure that the design vision remained intact throughout two years of complex planning negotiations. Find out more about Martello Tower Y.

Watch the Martello Tower Y video

Nevill Holt Opera

Witherford Watson Mann Architects

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

Nevill Holt Opera Building is, at first interaction, a non-building, wholly hidden within the stable yard of the hall’s stable block. Country houses continually evolve, being added to over time; the opera building is an exceptional 21st century addition to Nevill Holt Hall. Find out more about Nevill Holt Opera.

Watch the Nevill Holt Opera video

Shaftesbury Theatre

Bennetts Associates

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

This powerfully dramatic addition to the skyline of London's West End is a feat of architectural and engineering and prowess. To remain competitive in theatreland, the Grade II listed Edwardian theatre needed a retrofit to extend its performing capabilities. This was achieved by adding a new fly tower, to increase flying capacity from 12 to 35 tons, with new offices and plant rooms. Find out more about Shaftesbury Theatre.

Watch the Shaftesbury Theatre video

Finalists - Call for proposals stream

The Brunner, Mond & Co. Building

Shanghai Bailian Asset Holding Co., Ltd.

Category 1: Twentieth century heritage buildings

The Brunner, built in 1921, is a modern public building in neoclassical style with horizontal three-section characteristics located at the core of the Bund’s historical and cultural area. In 2019, Bailian Asset Holding carried out protection repairs and functional updates with interior renovation into a composite space integrating art, culture, and office. Find out more about The Brunner Mond & Co. Building (PDF).

Watch The Brunner, Mond & Co. Building video

Canongate Block 2

John Gilbert Architects

Category 1: Twentieth century heritage buildings

The Canongate project is a pilot project for the delivery of sensitive retrofit works within the Edinburgh World Heritage Site. The completed project ensures that the building and site will continue to be used as intended, enriching the lives for its occupants, protecting the significance of a conservation asset, and continuing to contribute to the World Heritage Site. Find out more about Canongate Block 2 (PDF).

Watch the Canongate Block 2 video

Wilding Lounge Café

SYN Architects

Category 1: Twentieth century heritage buildings

Wilding Lounge Café converts a 1950s state-compound theatre building into a different kind of public events space that breathes new life into the old building, and helps protect the memories of communities that used to use it on a daily basis. Materials and old design features were reused and protected as much as possible. Find out more about Wilding Lounge Café (PDF).

Watch the Wilding Lounge Café video

Williams House, Nanjing University

Tian LENG, Xiaoxin ZHAO, Yu WANG, Shuyong CHAO

Category 1: Twentieth century heritage buildings

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several missionary universities and colleges made outstanding contributions to higher education in China, including the University of Nanking (UNK), or what is now Nanjing University. Williams House will soon be an active place with cultural and spiritual values that enhance the staff and student identity. Find out more about the renovation of Williams House (PDF).

Watch the Williams House video

Jankes Barn, Mount Bures

Lynch Architects/Rachel Elliott

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

Jankes Barn is a Grade II listed Essex threshing barn in Jankes Green, purchased in 2018 with planning consent for the conversion of the barn and outbuildings for residential use. The architects reimagined the project as a means of inhabiting the existing structures whilst celebrating and doing as little as possible to change their character. Find out more about Jankes Barn, Mount Bures (PDF).

Watch the Jankes Barn video

Former Japanese Consulate, Kulangsu

Beijing Guowenyan Cultural Heritage Conservation Centre (CHCC)

Category 2: Heritage buildings built before 1901

The former Japanese consulate in Kulangsu, established in 1898, is one of the only preserved foreign consulate buildings in Kulangsu. The building integrates western and Japanese cultures and reflects modern and local techniques. Since its completion in 2019, the building has served as the Advanced Institute of Humanities and Arts of Xiamen University. Find out more about the regeneration of the former Japanese Consulate, Kilangsu (PDF).

Watch the Former Japanese Consulate video

Visit the Open Door exhibition

From 10 February to 14 March 2023 at URBANCROSS Gallery, no. 1848 Middle Huaihai Rd, Shanghai

Open on Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am to 7pm (CST) and closed on Mondays

Open Door online exhibition

Download the online exhibition brochure featuring the 14 finalists of the 2022 Open Door project.