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Seven architectural wonders honoured in RIBA Regional Awards

12 June 2018

The Royal Institute of British Architects recently announced their 140 Regional Award Winners celebrating the best architecture from around the UK. NATALIE BUSHE selects seven notable designs which champion sustainability, community and education.

RIBA London

Gasholder Park | © John Sturrock

Gasholder Park: Bell Phillips Architects

Situated in King’s Cross and overlooking Regent’s Canal, the redevelopment of a Grade II listed Gasholder provides a tranquil public space for residents and visitors alike. By day the site offers respite in an urban setting, by night lighting resets the space for events.

The enveloping banked grass at the centre of the small park is surrounded by the original cast iron frame of the gasholder. Dismantled in 2011, removed and restored piece by piece the structure was finally relocated in 2013.

The iron work is complemented by a contemporary mirrored colonnade which reflects an appealing light and multiplicity of views over the canal towpath.

Gasholder Park: Polished sculptural fins and roof | © John Sturrock
The renovated bar of The Sekforde | © Peter Landers

The Sekforde Pub: Chris Dyson Architects LLP

Located in Clerkenwell, The Sekforde pub is a mix of Georgian restoration and a three storey new build which houses guests, kitchens and admin offices.

The owner has the community at heart and a political salon in mind for the pub's ambience

The redevelopment was initiated by a local resident and his friends who bought the building from the brewery as a focal point for the community.

In addition, the design has been rewarded with a Sustainability Award for its consideration of innovative renewables which drive running costs down.

The pub was returned to its Georgian splendour with a welcoming interior and a colour palette influenced by the John Soane Museum.

The owner has the community at heart and a political salon in mind for the pub's ambience, introducing a programme of lectures and the provision of scholarships to five students who live or attend university in the borough.

The Sekforde Pub with guest lodging | © Peter Landers

RIBA East Midlands

GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry | © Martine Hamilton-Knight

GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry: Fairhursts Design Group

A winner from RIBA East Midlands and a sustainability award, the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry is an ambitious project with an environmental design approach.

Commissioned by the University of Nottingham the building incorporates the latest technologies in a bid to be carbon neutral over its lifetime.

Built to house teaching and research facilities, which traditionally demand high energy usage, the building incorporates solar panels on the roof, a biofuel heat and power system and the environmental benefit of real wood cladding outside and natural materials inside where possible.

The labs are infused with natural light, high ceilings and an open plan environment to encourage collaboration and open discussion.

The dramatic roof line is the result of an architectural design combined with environmental need.

© Martine Hamilton-Knight

RSUA Northern Ireland

Castle Tower School | © Donal McCann

Castle Tower School: Isherwood + Ellis

Castle Tower School in Ballymena is a colourful addition to the landscape. This model environment is the result of a client, architect and stakeholder collaboration which takes children from nursery to school leaver age and meets a range of complex educational and physical needs.

A repetition in the design space and a colour coding system aids children in both their movement through the open areas and in the continuity of their upward progression through the school.

A hydrotherapy pool, full height climbing wall, sports hall and fitness suite offer inspiring and exciting surroundings and the potential for a growth in participation by a welcome local community.

Open area, Castle Tower School | © Donal McCann


The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre | © Sally Ann Norman

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre: Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall Ltd

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre is a hub for the rural economy rising from a landscape located in a UNESCO World Heritage site and National Park.

Blending in to its surroundings with views over Northumberland, the building takes its inspiration from the nearby Great Whin Sill geological feature. With a focus on sustainability and reduced energy demands the building uses local materials to connect people with the surrounding landscape.

Wheelchair users and parents with buggies are invited to walk the sill grassland roof path to the viewing platform to enrich their health and wellbeing, while below them other visitors experience the classrooms, exhibition spaces and youth hostel, all with views to the surrounding area.

The Whin Sill grassland roof | © Kristen McCluskie
© Sally Ann Norman

RSAW Wales

University of Bangor Arts and Innovation Centre | © Gyuri Szabo

University of Bangor Arts and Innovation Centre: Grimshaw

Pontio in Welsh means bridge and, as its new name suggests, the new Arts and Innovation Centre for the University of Bangor connects the University to the town through culture, language and landscape.

The sloping site is split over six levels with its stone clad building linking the upper level nearest the Main Arts Building, through a Lecture Theatre, Students Union and innovations area for cross collaborative working; down to the Theatr Bryn Terfel and studio spaces, Cinema and Memorial Arch Garden at the bottom.

Transformational for the region, the theatre and cinema welcomes students and local residents to experience campus life and the entertainment and educational opportunities that it brings.

Pontio: The University of Bangor Arts and Innovation Centre | © Gyuri Szabo
© Gyuri Szabo

RIBA South West

Pengwynver at night | © James Ram

Pengwynver: Stan Bolt Architects

A winner from the South West region is Pengwynver, a single storey extension on a 1920s granite cottage in Penzance, influenced by the wave lines that fill the vistas from its floor to ceiling windows.

The glass and slate building settles into the hillside overlooking a stunning coastline and is almost imperceptible from the contrasting road side.

Inside, the undulating timber lined roof drifts over an open-plan kitchen and living space while outside a roof garden planted with indigenous species is complemented by a bridging area between the old and new buildings which captures the offshore islands in a almost painterly frame.

Framing the islands | © Nigel Rigden
© Nigel Rigden

The complete list of the RIBA Regional Winners 2018 can be found on their site. The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) announced their 2018 shortlist in March, and will release the name of their winner later this month. RIBA will announce the National Award Winners on 21 June 2018.

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