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CABE press release

A spectacular treetop walk, a children's hospital and a new parliament building among 14 schemes vying for the 2006 Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award

03 July 2006

Contact: Dan Thomson, 020 7070 6772

The shortlist for the 2006 Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award has been announced. The contenders include a spectacular treetop walkway in Northamptonshire; the Evelina Children's Hospital in Lambeth; the acclaimed National Assembly for Wales; an unusual water activities centre in Norfolk; and an ingenious engineering project to provide a new bridge at Paddington.

Now in its sixth year, this annual award recognises excellence in the design quality and procurement of publicly funded building schemes. This year 14 schemes (see Appendix) are shortlisted for the award from a total of 137 entries, with contenders from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Salcey Treetop Walk is 15m high with a series of 24m span bridges allowing the public to walk at treetop level through the Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire. This unusual scheme provides an atmospheric, almost other-worldly experience. Kevin Stannard of the Forestry Commission said: 'The Tree Top Way was imagined as an exciting means to encourage visitors to experience the ancient forest from a new perspective.  It's designed as a bridge to link the forest floor to the woodland canopy, to link people with nature.'

Evelina Children's Hospital, by Hopkins Architects, is the first dedicated children's hospital in London for 100 years. Children were consulted on the design and the result is a light, bright and beautiful healing environment. Sir Michael Hopkins said: 'One comment was enough to get our imagination working - "Rooms, not too private and no scary long corridors".  So that's what we have tried to achieve.'

The acclaimed National Assembly for Wales building, by Richard Rogers Partnership, is highly sustainable, produced on time and on budget, and has played an important part in the regeneration of the Cardiff Bay area.

The Water Activities Centre in Whitlingham Country Park, Norfolk, was inspired by traditional Norfolk seaside chalets and boat building craft. The scheme, by Snell Associates, incorporates a 36m span roof, resembling a resting bird with outstretched wings.

The new Paddington Bridge had to cross 14 rail and Tube lines, a development site and the Grand Union Canal, and was installed using an ingenious solution which involved lifting the existing bowstring bridge and relaunching the new one underneath it.

Many of the shortlisted schemes this year show the increasingly multi-functional nature of public buildings. The Lavender Sure Start centre in Mitcham, for example, is also used by the allotments, tennis courts, a paddling pool, playground and green spaces nearby. Similarly, the John Perry Children's centre in Dagenham not only caters for children's care and learning, but also offers spaces for public meetings and hire, while the Hub at Regent's Park, primarily a sports centre, also offers a café and toilet facilities for the public.  

Commenting on the shortlist, the Prime Minister Tony Blair said:

'I congratulate all the candidates on the short-list for this year's award. They represent, once again, a very diverse range of projects. But what they have in common is that each demonstrates a high quality of design and how this helps in the effective delivery of good public services.'

The chair of CABE, John Sorrell, said:

'This year's shortlist shows the depth of quality we are now achieving across a wide range of public sector building projects, including many with a complex, multi-functional brief. Following the recent launch of CABE's campaign to highlight the impact of bad design on people's lives and the waste of money that it causes, it is reassuring to see the public sector producing well designed projects that improve public service delivery.'

The Award is jointly sponsored by CABE and the OGC. It is part of the British Construction Industry Awards and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 26 October 2006.

Notes to Editors

Appendix - complete shortlist

The Hub, Regent's Park, London

Replacing outdated facilities, The Hub is a place to meet, to watch and, most importantly, to play sport in Regent's Park.

John Perry Children's Centre, Dagenham

A purpose built nursery added to an existing school building, creating a protected garden environment.

Lavender Sure Start and Children's Centre, Mitcham

A new nursery and community building for the use of low income families as part of the Sure Start initiative. Built using modular methods, with off-site fabrication allowing speedy assembly.

Water Activities Centre, Whitlingham, Norfolk

Community and teaching facilities housed in a timber and fabric building inspired by traditional Norfolk seaside chalets and boat building craft.

Salcey Treetop Walk, Northamptonshire

A walkway, free to all and open all year, which starts at ground level and rises 15m above the ground via a number of timber bridges.

Stewart Stockman Building, Addlestone, Surrey

This new building contains laboratories, offices and conference facilities and is of national importance in animal disease monitoring and veterinary research. It has been designed with flexibility in mind - some of the laboratories can be recommissioned at short notice to the highest containment level, a UK first.

The National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff

Built over three levels with a public café and gallery overlooking a debating chamber and committee rooms, this building achieved Wales' highest ever BREEAM environmental rating. Ivan Harbour, senior director at Richard Rogers Partnership, said: 'The aim was to achieve a building that was a transparent envelope, looking outwards to Cardiff Bay, providing visibility to the inner workings of the Assembly and encouraging the public to engage with it.'

City of London Academy, Southwark, London

A secondary education building including facilities for community use, with a light and airy atrium at its heart, delivering daylight and aiding natural ventilation.

Evelina Children's Hospital, Lambeth, London

A new children's hospital for the Guy's and St Thomas' Trust, featuring a large conservatory running the entire 100m length of the building, allowing daylight to flood in. Alastair Gourlay of the Guy's and St Thomas' Trust described the aim of the project as to 'create a hospital that does not feel like a hospital; to improve the way we provide care for children and their families.'

M25 Junctions 12-15 widening and M25 spur road stage 2, London

Scheme including new railway bridges and a new interchange serving Heathrow's new Terminal 5, all achieved with impressive safety and environmental records, on time and to budget. Described by Terry Williams of the Highways Agency as 'the biggest road widening success seen so far in this country'

Montrose Replacement Bridge, A92 Montrose, Angus

A three-span concrete and steel bridge with a distinctive cope and pronounced curvature.

Jamestown Viaduct, Inverkeithing, Fife

Project to strengthen a listed 19th century rail viaduct, achieved with only 8 days closure of the railway line. David Simpson, route director for Network Rail, described the challenge as 'to radically change the bridge's structural design concept without affecting its magnificent appearance.'

Paddington Bridge Project, Paddington, London

New bridge to replace an old structure on Bishop's Road to the north of Paddington station, which overcame a series of logistical problems with some ingenious solutions.

Broadland Flood Alleviation Project, Norfolk Broads

A three year flood alleviation project which involved setting back defences, allowing old sheet piled defences to be replaced with a softer, more sustainable reeded edge. 

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