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RIBA Awards 2013: Housing

Last year, AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto interpreted the low awards count for housing projects as symptomatic

This year it’s not much better, with the same number of National awards, fewer EU and International winners and only one more Regional project highlighted. Has the AJ’s More Homes, Better Homes campaign further sharpened critical faculties? Two of this years’ National Awards go to projects emphasising the role of housing as part of the urban fabric and the need for good public, private and semi-private spaces. Another goes to a team that has sympathetically unlocked the potential of Macmillan-era stock. Regional awards go to several architecturally distinctive projects, notably Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ One Hyde Park, which are peripheral to the mass housing conundrum. Hopefully our campaign and others’ voices are eliciting positive responses that will begin to be reflected in more praise from RIBA Awards judges next year.

Newhall Be, Harlow, Essex, Alison Brooks Architects

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Newhall Be (AJ 14.03.13) represents a departure from the design associated with house building. The 84-house scheme is an intelligent rethinking of suburban housing. The innovation of terraced patio houses enabled higher density on the site. The whole is an efficient mix of new and familiar house typologies united by a strong geometric and material consistency, inspired by the sculptural roof forms and simple materials of traditional Essex barns. On a tight budget this project delivers houses that are a joy to live in, designed with intelligence and imagination.

Church Walk, London N16, David Mikhail Architects

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The architects brought their skills in the housing sector to this block of four dwellings demonstrating how such schemes should be delivered (AJ 14.03.13). Pleased with the results, they decided to live in one of them. The external treatment is broken down by functions, with brick to living areas and Siberian larch cladding to bedrooms. The selection of materials is consistent throughout, with not a detail left to chance. Every junction was clearly considered and the attention to the finishes demonstrates an exemplary knowledge and skill with materials.

Park Hill Phase 1, Sheffield, Hawkins\Brown and, Studio Egret West

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A sensitive regeneration (AJS 02.10) of a Grade II*-listed building, addressing the problems associated with badly maintained mass social housing. Despite the constraints of UK building standards, the team worked with English Heritage to find a balance between retaining the building’s Brutalist language while changing public perceptions. New iridescent coloured panels give the street frontage a changing face across the day The result is visually striking without losing the Park Hill look.

Beveridge Mews, Stepney Green, London E1, Peter Barber Architects

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Beveridge Mews (AJ 14.03.13)comprises eight contemporary houses forming one side of a community garden. The 7.5m-deep plot was created by the demolition of disused garages. Peter Barber’s clever, three-dimensional solution provides access through the shared garden to shared private courtyards, giving an entrance to each house. The client wanted large homes for multi-generational families. As a result, the houses, with between three and seven bedrooms, achieve Lifetime Home standards.

The Aleph, Buenos Aires, Foster + Partners with Berdichevsky-Cherny Arquitectos

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The Faena Aleph Residences form part of the reinvention of the former docks of Puerto Madero in the east of Buenos Aires. The nine-storey building draws on local architectural traditions. The 50 apartments feature vaulted living spaces and deep, sheltered terraces exploiting the local climate and maximising views towards the city. Split-level living spaces extend into generous balconies and double height patios. There is also a landscaped garden for residents to the rear and an infinity pool at roof level.

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