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CABE Press Release

Great design turns around declining local economies

12 June 2008

Contact: Tessa Kordeczka, 020 7070 6769

From Shetland to Cornwall, the projects shortlisted for this year’s Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award show the contribution that great design is making towards regeneration. Many of the 21 projects, chosen by the judges from 121 entries, are critical to creating new opportunities and turning around declining local economies.

Commenting on the shortlist, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, said:

‘Good design in building matters. It helps to foster civic pride, it fires the imagination, and it's something we're very good at in this country. The public buildings and projects on this year's shortlist are excellent examples of this. I am especially pleased to see the emphasis on sustainable design, regeneration and bringing life into communities shown by this year's selection. I look forward to hearing who has won in October.’

The former mining town of Newbiggin in Northumberland, which was threatened by serious sea erosion, is beginning to thrive again thanks to a high-quality new coast protection scheme. It incorporates promenade improvements, a new beach and the UK’s first permanent off-shore sculpture. The scheme is attracting many more visitors and has encouraged new housing and public transport investment.

The stunning design of Langdon Park station has transformed the identity of a deprived and isolated part of east London. Its dramatic appearance is maximising the value from the new Docklands Light Railway link which is encouraging new jobs, investment in shops and leisure facilities, and the development of new, affordable homes.

The Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award is sponsored jointly by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

CABE chair John Sorrell added:

‘What this year’s outstanding shortlist shows is that good design – whatever the size and scale of the project – is a driving force behind flourishing communities.’

The stylish Shetland Museum and Archives – a striking modern interpretation of traditional structures – is attracting 10 times the number of visitors to the area. At the other end of the country, the new extension to Newlyn Art Gallery captures the unique quality of Cornwall’s light and landscape.

Important cultural and architectural landmarks – the opulent Royal Hall in Harrogate and London’s Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre Studio and Young Vic – have been meticulously and sensitively restored.

Some astonishing solutions have been found to cutting carbon emissions and creating sustainable buildings. On a cramped inner-city site and with a limited budget, the St Marylebone CE School Performing Arts Centre brings daylight and fresh air into a gym nine metres below street level through a below-ground open courtyard.

Two new hospitals – the Lymington New Forest Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton – demonstrate how excellent hospital design lifts the spirits of patients, their families and staff. Also with the needs of its users in mind, the startling architecture of the Manchester Civil Justice Centre has fulfilled aspirations for quality, transparency, accessibility and sustainability.

Notes to editors

Appendix – complete shortlist

Barking Learning Centre, London
principal designer: Allford Hall Mohaghan Morris

The Barking Learning Centre is a mixed-use project that has revitalised the town centre. With residential accommodation above the extended library – using the retained structure of the old library as part of a sustainable construction approach – the centre provides new public amenities such as a café and art gallery.

Castleford Footbridge, West Yorkshire
principal designer: McDowell and Benedetti

This footbridge is the last and most ambitious element of 11 schemes forming the Castleford Project, which has unlocked massive urban renewal and sparked new confidence in the former coal-mining town. The design of the bridge cleverly allows people to sit above the centre of the river.

Castleford Weir Fish Pass, West Yorkshire
principal designer: Arup

This project creates a channel for fish to navigate an impassable weir, encouraging a diversified and more sustainable fishery.

Cleveleys coast protection, Lancashire
principal designer: Faber Maunsell

The latest stage of this pioneering coastal protection scheme has provided a rejuvenated promenade, stimulating the tourist industry and local shops. The wave-like frontage has bought a dilapidated 1920s seafront right up to date – both practically and aesthetically.

Cremorne Riverside Centre, London
principal designer: Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

The centre is a low-maintenance but sustainably designed canoeing facility for children and young people that replaces a container and a Portakabin on the corner of a public park in one of Kensington and Chelsea’s most deprived estates.

Dartford Creek Frontages Project, Erith, Kent
principal designer: Arup

The project excelled in finding a sustainable solution to undermined flood embankments along Dartford Creek, which provide protection to 620 residential and commercial properties.

DLR Langdon Park station, London
principal designer: Consarc Architects

The stunning design of the new DLR station is transforming the identity of this deprived and isolated part of London, maximising the regeneration opportunities from the new public transport link.

Hexham flood alleviation scheme, Northumberland
principal designer: Jacobs Engineering Group

This innovative, sustainable solution provides additional environmental and community benefits in a historically sensitive area. The three-year project protects some 254 properties, including many listed buildings, ancient monuments and sites of archaeological interest.

Lymington New Forest Hospital, Hampshire
principal designer: Murphy Philipps Architects

Hailed as the future of healthcare, this new 96-bed hospital has been designed at a human scale. Natural daylight and planting contribute to a more intimate recovery environment. It already feels approachable, accessible and part of the local community – which, through a series of open days, helped the architects shape its design.

Manchester Civil Justice Centre
principal designer: Denton Corker Marshall

Manchester Civil Justice Centre is the biggest court complex to be built in the UK since the Royal Courts of Justice and has fully met a demanding brief for ‘a sustainable building of civic generosity and European significance with minimal impact on the environment’.

National Theatre Studio, London
principal designer: Haworth Tompkins

Conservation of the National Theatre Studio has rescued a Grade II-listed Brutalist landmark, preserving a historic theatre workshop and at the same time reinforcing a newer tradition that has made the studio the ‘engine room’ of the National Theatre.

Newbiggin Bay coast protection scheme, Northumberland
principal designer: Atkins

A former mining town has been saved from collapse and given a new lease of life with a new beach, breakwater and landscaping, including the UK’s first permanent offshore sculpture.

Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall
principal designer: MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects)

The two-storey extension scheme is a sympathetic addition that aims to capture the unique qualities of the light and landscape of the Cornish peninsula. Using local materials including Cornish slate, the scheme includes a new education suite, resource area, café and shop.

Riverside Bridge, Cambridge
principal designer: Ramboll Whitbybird

This bridge is an important new crossing for this historic environment, encouraging cycling and walking in a residential area of the city. Two slender curving decks across the Cam split into two elements beneath an arch up to 32.4 metres high.

Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton, East Sussex
principal designer: Building Design Partnership

Much effort has been made to create a calm and colourful environment for children: its success will be measured in health and recovery as much as value for money. Built on a tight site on Brighton seafront, the design aimed to give every bedroom a sea view.

Royal Festival Hall, London
principal designer: Allies and Morrison

The culmination of 15 years’ design work, this nationally important building is now restored to its original glory. Its majestic foyers have been recovered and acoustic levels of the auditorium raised to new standards.

Royal Hall, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
principal designer: Burrell Foley Fischer

The sumptuous refurbishment of Harrogate’s Royal Hall – a unique historic asset – has been achieved through a combination of determination and teamwork and is a boon to the local economy.

St Marylebone CE School Performing Arts Centre, London
principal designer: Gumuchdjian Architects

On a cramped inner-city site and with a limited budget, the designers have succeeded in bringing daylight and fresh air into a gym nine metres below street level, through a below-ground open courtyard.

Sheffield inner relief road, South Yorkshire
principal designer: Street Force – Sheffield City Council

The judges have described this as a new generation of relief road that appears more like a boulevard than a bypass. Alternatives to the car have been encouraged with bus corridors, dedicated lanes, shelters and bike stands.

Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland
principal designer: Building Design Partnership

The new Shetland Museum and Archives has stylishly married the old and new, using traditional craft skills and the rich heritage of the Scottish islands. Visitor numbers have risen almost 10-fold since it opened, and the impact on the formerly derelict surrounding area can already be seen.

Young Vic, London
principal designer: Haworth Tompkins

The creative updating of a much-loved theatre has retained the original spirit of the building with deft alterations, new entrances, lighting and seating. The scheme was developed closely with the local community to retain its importance as both a daytime and evening facility.


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