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AJ Small Projects 2012 Shortlist

You can never have too much of a good thing – which is why AJ Small Projects got a little bit bigger this year, writes Christine Murray

What few clients may realise about this profession is how gratified architects feel when they’ve managed to deliver a lofty architectural design on a competitive budget.

AJ Small Projects takes this exercise to the extreme, rewarding design excellence accomplished for a total build cost of £250,000 or less. We love the AJ Small Projects awards – an annual publishing event and one of the highlights of our editorial calendar.

That’s why this year, with the continued support of Marley Eternit, we’ve expanded the AJ Small Projects programme. In addition to two issues of the magazine and the accompanying exhibition at the NLA, we’ve added two new events (a launch evening and supercrit), published every entry on the AJBuildingsLibrary.co.uk and put every shortlisted project on the cover. (This issue went to print with 12 different covers, randomly distributed to subscribers. Twelve more will go to press next week. You can read a digital edition of this week’s magazine here)

We’ve also built more feedback into the programme, in response to reader comments last year. To this end, we held a launch event in November at the NLA in Store Street, London, where Deborah Saunt, co-founder of DSDHA, Ben Addy of Moxon Architects and I discussed the importance of small projects in building a practice, how to craft a successful entry and catch any judge’s eye, and how getting published and shortlisted for awards can help you win work.

The addition of a supercrit to the programme will see the 24 finalists presenting their work to our panel; client Moira Gemmill, development director at the V&A, architect Keith Bradley, partner of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, quantity surveyor Mark Weaver of Rider Levett Bucknall, Paul Reed, sales and marketing director of Marley Eternit, and myself. In our bid to make the process as transparent as possible, the shortlisted practices are invited to sit in on all of the supercrits so they can judge the presentations for themselves.

Also for the first time, we solicited entries through our digital buildings archive AJBuildingsLibrary.co.uk, making photographs, drawings and working details from all 156 entrants available to view from November and allowing users to choose their favourite. Interestingly, three of the five most-viewed projects didn’t make our shortlist, but nevertheless have gained prominent exposure for their practices. The AJ Buildings Library also contains all shortlisted Small Projects from the past three years and over 300 projects completed for less than £250,000.

The AJ Buildings Library proved to be a great equaliser compared to paper entries. AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto, AJ Specification editor Felix Mara, sustainability editor Hattie Hartman and AJ Buildings Library editor Tom Ravenscroft combed through drawings and photographs of every project to choose the 24 finalists. The AJ Buildings Library’s zoom and full-screen functionality made it possible to focus in on the architectural detailing, making it easier to judge between good photography and good architecture. Having all the information in a standard format also levelled the playing field, so judges couldn’t be wooed by a nice font or paper stock.

I hope you enjoy these two special issues, featuring the best of Small Projects 2012. The winners of the AJ Small Project awards, including the sustainability prize, will be announced on 8 February, where a prize fund of £2,500 will be shared at the jury’s discretion. The exhibition of shortlisted projects runs at the NLA from 9 February to 10 March.

Paul Reed, sales and marketing director at Marley Eternit, comments: ‘We are proud to be sponsoring this prestigious award for a second year. Marley Eternit is fully committed to helping highlight some of the creative and original work that architect practices produce, regardless of budget constraints and size of project; this competition helps us to reward and cast a spotlight on such excellence.’

Most popular Small Projects in the AJ Buildings Library

1. Giant Gingerbread House, Alma-nac, London
2. Coed Gwern Bird Hide, CAT Professional Diploma Students, Machynlleth
3. High Street to Hidden House, Teatum + Teatum, London
4. House and Office 1 West Annandale Street, by Tim Bayman Architecture, Edinburgh 
5. One & Eight, Me & Sam, London

For the next two weeks, you can order additional copies of the AJ Small Projects Awards issue with the project cover of your choice. Numbers are limited. Please contact Ashley Powell at 020 7728 4518 for details.

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