28 June 2022

And they’re in! The RIBA Awards 2022

The 23rd June saw the Royal Institute of British Architects’ National Awards for 2022 announce its winners.

Projects across the UK that have made a significant contribution to architecture include a new library for Magdalene College Cambridge, and the recreation of a cathedral cloister.

Twenty-nine of them walked off with gongs, but which projects are the most stand out of the outstanding? It’s a tough call, but here’s our reluctantly whittled down list.

First up is the Mitchell building at The Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells. The task for Bell Phillips Architects was to create a brand-new link between the oldest red brick buildings, which would, at the same time, create a stimulating learning environment. A naturally over-lit staircase culminates in a rooftop library, featuring a dramatic timber-lined ceiling that follows the steep pitch of the roof.

Another stunner is Surbiton Springs, a new-build on a suburban street in Surbiton. Apart from its tongue twister status, this contemporary two-bedroomed home with an industrial aesthetic, had a simple remit from the client – it was in no way to turn out as a minimalist open plan box. Architects Surman Weston successfully blended a traditional A-frame elevation with a suburban mock-Tudor nod to its surroundings. A white steel exoskeleton creates a contemporary twist, while Crittall-style glazing offers a modern take on the leaded windows of yore.

Our last choice highlights how the RIBA Awards aren’t just about new buildings, but the rapidly growing role that present day architects play in preserving the work of time past. The Winsford Cottage Hospital is one such ageing gemstone, hidden for decades under layers of vinyl flooring, and disfigured with internal partitions.

The finished product is a love story about a passionate and committed community, and the integrity of modern professionals in resurrecting the history of the British Isles. Winsford Cottage Hospital, designed by CFA Voysey, is the physical embodiment of the evolving healthcare service, from the treatment of soldiers wounded in the First World War right through to the formation of the NHS in 1948.

Despite providing a core community resource, the building not only suffered from the indignity of unsympathetic alterations, but also decades of driving rain fresh in from the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean. This meant that benjamin+beauchamp architects for the Landmark Trust needed a deep understanding of the building’s heritage and structure. Archival research and an invasive condition survey, together with a committed and passionate local community group’s involvement resulted in the successful resuscitation of  the original building.

If you’re feeling like you’ve been bypassed for an architectural Oscar, then you’ve still got plenty of time to enter the inaugural Architecture Today Awards. But these babies have a twist. Hot on the trail of promoting sustainability, Architecture Today’s aim is simple – in stark contrast to most awards programmes, they will only consider projects that have been in use for at least three years – and they “hope to attract projects that have been in use for much longer”.

This is great news for the industry, and a statement of commitment to buildings long after the ribbon cutting ceremony is over.

The 23rd June saw the Royal Institute of British Architects' National Awards for 2022 announce its winners.

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