Public building leading the way on sustainable design
19 June 2007
The projects shortlisted for the 2007 Better Public Building Award demonstrate high standards of social and environmental sustainability.
Secretary of State Tessa Jowell MP has announced the shortlist for this year's Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award, open to all public building, large and small, from hospitals to flood defence.
What these 18 outstanding projects show is that the best public building is now at the cutting edge of sustainable design.
From the Rooftop Nursery in east London to King's Cross St Pancras underground station and the world's first Cold War exhibition in Shropshire, each has attained the highest standards in design, construction, financial management and procurement.
But the Prime Minister has also praised the projects for demonstrating 'how our design and construction industries are successfully rising to the threat of climate change'.
The Lower Witham flood defence scheme in Lincolnshire, for example, found a way to make good use of more than a million car tyres. Paradise Park Children's Centre in north London has a vertical garden irrigated by rainwater. The Dalby Forest Visitor Centre in North Yorkshire, clad in larch grown and milled in the forest, is designed to be completely recycled at the end of its life.
The Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre relies predominantly on natural ventilation and light and recycled rainwater is used to flush toilets.
This shortlist is especially encouraging since constructing and running public infrastructure and services - schools hospitals, libraries, museums, government offices - account for almost one third of carbon emissions. And in April this year the National Audit Office warned that the majority of government departments and agencies were failing to meet environmental targets for new and refurbished buildings.
To make sure that each of the remarkable buildings in the shortlist lives up to its expectations - and sets new standards for sustainable design - there now needs to be rigorous and systematic evaluation of their actual performance.
As well as being eco-friendly, however, each of these projects is contributing - in different ways - to a better quality of life. Kaleidoscope, for example, the children's and young people's centre in Lewisham, brings together a range of health, social and educational services under one roof. The Bridge Arts Centre in Easterhouse, Glasgow, provides a stylish library, learning centre and arts facility. And the striking Richard Desmond Children's Eye Centre provides world-class facilities in an environment that is welcoming and reassuring for children and their parents.
The dilapidated 1920s seafront at Cleveleys has been transformed into a distinctive destination, the unexpected pride of this Lancashire town, through the contemporary design of its new coastal protection scheme.