CROWN STREET BUILDINGS Architect: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Housebuilder: Welbeck Land Designing a 21st-century mixed-used block that demonstrates due deference to its classic Victorian neighbours is no mean feat. This is why Crown Street Buildings in Leeds city centre proved to be an instant winner with the judges.
The ground floor and basement of this hollow triangular scheme comprise commercial and retail units, with apartments on three floors above and penthouses on a set-back fifth floor. Living spaces enclose a first-floor courtyard, providing a private communal focus for residents.
Among its quirky features is the incorporation of an existing Victorian terrace, now refurbished as shops and apartments. The judges were impressed by this bold reinvention of the terrace that, crucially, did not compromise its integrity.
In response to its architecturally sensitive context - namely the Grade I-listed Corn Exchange by Cuthbert Brodrick, and White Cloth Hall - the elevations feature a grid of pressed Victorian bricks.
These are distinguished by a random pattern of coloured infill panels made from Sicilian lava stone, which segue from blue through green to yellow to create a kaleidoscopic effect, described as 'beautifully courageous' by the judges.
Crown Street Buildings was judged one of the most architecturally challenging projects in this year's awards. Besides respecting local conservation, the design team was forced to negotiate an awkward and immovable service road between the site and a nearby railway viaduct. It also responded to a planning order to elevate apartments above street level - deemed to be the most effective way to protect residents from noise pollution.
Overall, the £6.1 million scheme, completed in August 2005, was proclaimed a bold and clever solution to a particularly difficult brief. Crown Street Buildings stands apart from the ranks of 'winch-worthy' mixed-use developments, concluded the judges, thanks to its 'intelligent Victorian reminiscences' and 'tasteful detailing'.