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CABE Press Release

From a 'green road' to a 'magic carpet of knowledge' - the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award is announced

17 March 2005

Contact Peter Jenkins on 020 7960 2438 or 07776305681

A river defence scheme for the Cornish village devastated by flash floods last year, a sustainable school in Cheshire, a public library in Brighton, an international centre for music in Gateshead, a restaurant in a Royal park and what has been dubbed, 'the greenest road in Britain', all make the grade in this year’s shortlist for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award.

Now in its fifth year, this annual architecture award recognises excellence in design quality and procurement practices of publicly funded building schemes. This year a total of 15 schemes are shortlisted for the award from a total of 140 entries – a record number for the Award.

In the Cornish village of Boscastle, a discreet and well-designed flood defence system - to help prevent a repeat of the devastation caused by a flash flood in August last year - has been shortlisted for this Award. A scheme designed to defend the River Jordan had been due to be signed-off the day after the flood; a redesign took two weeks, and construction started the following Monday.

Inn the Park, a new lozenge-shaped café and restaurant in St James's Park London - which has proved popular with Londoners and tourists alike - has also made this year’s shortlist. Greg McErlean from the Royal Parks Agency, said: The collaboration with Hopkins Architects has been a huge success in creating a building not only displaying contemporary architecture, but also showing an understanding of its historical parkland setting.

Brighton's stylish new £8 million library, which has seen visitor numbers and book loans triple since opening, demonstrates how PFI can succeed if the client is clear in its support for high design quality before and during the procurement process. Sally McMahon, Brighton and Hove city council's head of libraries, says the reading hall seems to float, as if it was a magic carpet of knowledge. The judges said: This PFI project has given Brighton a long-awaited facility which has been designed and delivered with great flair.

In Gateshead, the SAGE is the latest project in the revitalisation of Gateshead Riverside. Lord Foster of Thames Bank O.M., Chairman, Foster and Partners, said: I have always believed that the arts are an essential part of the life of a city. When we designed the SAGE Gateshead, it was foremost in our minds that the project should not only contribute to the urban regeneration of Gateshead, and symbolise the cultural emergence of Tyneside, but also provide an 'urban living room' in which the local community can enjoy a wide range of music.

Wales is represented for the first time with a 7.2km section of the A470 Cardiff to Glan Conwy Trunk Road located within the Snowdonia National Park and branded the 'greenest road in Britain', by the National Farmers' Union's Countryside magazine. Key environmental objectives included recycling materials, waste reduction and the reusing of excavated material. The road improvement also included a conservation scheme for various species and habitats – it incorporates a bat hibernaculum and otter passages.

Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside in the National Assembly for Wales said: This stretch of road is an example of how sustainable development works in practice. It proves that you don't have to stop developing transport links if you take an approach which strikes a balance between the needs of road users and the environment. Including recycled material in the development is one way of avoiding drawing on our natural resources which I would like to become standard practice in the industry.

Richard Simmons, Chief Executive of CABE, said:

"The diversity found in this year’s shortlist shows the unique nature of the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award, which looks beyond aesthetics to how design and procurement of construction projects can improve the delivery of public services. This country is in the middle of the largest public sector building programme for a generation. We urge all those involved with this programme to build on the success that has been celebrated over five years of this award, and we look forward to the day when all public buildings are designed and built to the same high standards."

John Oughton, Chief Executive of OGC, said: OGC is proud to join CABE in sponsoring this prestigious Award for the fifth year running. The record number of entries shows that innovative design and smarter procurement are principles being adopted more widely in public construction projects. This means high-quality public buildings are being delivered with whole-life value for money for the taxpayer.

The complete short list is as follows:

The Award has been jointly sponsored by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). It is part of the British Construction Industry Awards and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on Thursday 13 October.

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Notes to Editors

The shortlist is being announced by David Lammy MP, Minister for Culture, at the launch of Public and Prized – a photographic exhibition marking five years of the PM’s Award. This takes place at Elms Lesters Painting Rooms, 1-5 Flitcroft Street, London WC2H 8DN on Thursday 16 June from 18:00. The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 17 to Sunday 26 June

Images of all shortlisted projects are available from the CABE Press Office, contact Katherine Heaton on 020 7960 2421

A publication which includes details of all the shortlisted schemes is available from CABE on 020 7960 2470

Further information on each of the 15 short listed schemes can also be found at www.betterpublicbuilding.gov.uk

The Award is made annually to new projects commissioned by central or local government and paid mainly with public funds. It is part of the Better Public Building Initiative launched by the Prime Minister in October 2000 to encourage the adoption of quality design principles in all new public sector buildings, regardless of size and cost

The winner of last year’s Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award was the A650 Bingley Relief Road, Yorkshire

CABE champions the creation of great buildings and public spaces. It is a non-departmental public body set up by the Government in 1999. Through public campaigns and support to professionals, CABE encourages the development of well-designed homes, streets, parks, offices, schools, hospitals and other public buildings - www.cabe.org.uk

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is an office of HM Treasury which works with central civil Government as a catalyst to achieve best value for money in commercial activities

Judges for the 2005 Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award are:

In this section: