‘Architecture of the everyday’ makes strong Prime Minister’s Award shortlist
11 June 2009
The 24 projects shortlisted for this year’s Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award show that the ‘architecture of the everyday’ – streets, schools, bridges and stations – is generating some of the most imaginative and beautiful design in Britain.
This is the biggest shortlist ever for the Award and CABE’s chair, Sir John Sorrell, believes we are reaching a tipping point where desire for good design is evident in most public building. ‘Most clients will no longer accept badly conceived, lowest cost solutions, even in a recession. The result is that we have a myriad of examples of well designed buildings and spaces: an architecture of the everyday that helps people live more convenient lives in more beautiful places.’
This represents a gradual shift in our procurement culture. The Award is unique because all shortlisted projects demonstrate efficient procurement as well as good design.
Improvements in infrastructure
Half the projects are transport infrastructure. At Ashford in Kent, the radical re-engineering of a one-way ring road has given the town a distinctive new identity. Intriguing artworks, such as curved lighting columns, have been skilfully integrated into a new pedestrian-friendly environment.
In Derby, a sleek bridge across the River Derwent evokes the city’s rich textile past. The Cathedral Green Footbridge is inspired by the movement of the hinged blades of a tailor’s shears and swings round a 20 metre-high needle-like mast. The Harthill Footbridge provides a safe crossing over Scotland’s busiest motorway. And Wood Lane station in London – the first station to be built on an existing tube line in 70 years – is an elegant two-storey steel and glass structure, with a 25 metre glass screen façade.
21st century education buildings
Seven of the shortlisted projects are education buildings. In south London, at Dunraven School, recycled sea containers were used to create a surprising, well lit and elegant sports hall within a tight budget. On a heavily trafficked site in deprived inner-city Birmingham, the Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College is built around courtyards inspired by the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge.
And at the University of Nottingham, the Jubilee Campus extension creates a strong new identity for the university with three stunning new buildings and a striking piece of sculpture 60 metres high.
The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, says that the shortlisted projects show how creative design can make a real difference to how places work and community pride. ‘We are absolutely committed to good quality, sustainable public buildings and infrastructure.’