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AJ100 Sustainable Practice of the Year: AHMM

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris has won this year’s Sustainable Practice of the Year award for the way in which it has integrated sustainability into project delivery across the office

It has made a significant commitment to sustainability since 2006, hiring Michael Pawlyn of Exploration Architecture to develop a sustainability toolkit to serve as a practice-wide design tool used at every RIBA stage. The toolkit looks at environmental impacts, identifies mitigating actions and helps clarify competing priorities.

Investing in sustainability has meant great financial commitment for AHMM, namely £20,000–25,000 annually in consultancy, external courses and practice CPD (including training staff as certified Passivhaus designers, and BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes assessors), and roughly double that in general staff hours.

Five years on, this way of working is embedded in project delivery. Nic Crawley, head of the 35-strong GreenTeam, says: ‘We’re keen to maintain the momentum based on very positive feedback from staff here and collaborators beyond, and feel these efforts represent a vitally important commitment, in terms of cost, time and intellectual energy.’

2010 saw the Angel Building (AJ 10.02.11) – a BREEAM Excellent office refurbishment in Islington for Derwent – completed. Its existing concrete frame was wrapped with a new steel structure and cladding to better relate to the street, a top-lit interior courtyard was carved out as semi-public space, and a café and dramatic sculpture sit at its heart. The circulation space of the lobby has been transformed into an inviting place to linger.

The jury unanimously honoured AHMM’s proactive decision to invest in low-carbon design expertise, but not allow sustainability to drive the practice’s architectural expression. Michael Pawlyn describes the firm’s approach as creating ‘great architecture that is green, not great green architecture’.

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Following two successive years on the Stirling Prize shortlist for the Kentish Town Health Centre (2010) and Westminster Academy (2009), AHMM has jumped from 39th to 16th place in the 2011 AJ100 ranking.

This is largely due to a solid base of work across the education, offices, housing and health sectors, but also partly down to repeat commissions with long-time commercial clients. The practice is shortlisted in an impressive three other AJ100 award categories this year – Building of the Year, Fastest Growing Practice and Practice of the Year, as well as winning Sustainable Practice of the Year.

Opportunities abroad – two residential towers in Accra, Ghana; a university campus in Amsterdam; and an entire city block in Oklahoma City – have diversified AHMM’s portfolio from its traditional London base. The practice maintains a satellite studio in Bristol, now in its fifth year. The expanding workload has resulted in an increase in the practice’s number of architects by approximately 50 per cent over the last year. 

The shortlist

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Atkins
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Hopkins Architects
Jestico + Whiles
Page\Park Architects
Purcell Miller Tritton

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