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APP EXCLUSIVE: The AJ's top three green schemes

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The AJ asked expert panel Fionn Stevenson, Yeoryia Manolopoulou and Mark Skelly to pick their top three green RIBA Regional Award winners

WWF-UK Living Planet Centre, Woking by Hopkins Architects

Living Planet Centre, WWF-UK Headquarters, Woking by Hopkins Architects

All three of the AJ’s expert panel ranked this standout project highly, making it top green project of the year. With a wide-ranging approach to sustainability, the WWF-UK headquarters pushes boundaries on several fronts: redevelopment of a brownfield car park site, exceptional access by public transport, proactive enhancement of biodiversity, earth tubes to precondition incoming air, as well as exceptional levels of daylight and carefully framed views into the surrounding tree canopies.

The environmental NGO is monitoring its building ‘very carefully’, according to building services engineer Atelier Ten, but results have yet to be released. An occupant survey would also be revealing. Since many employees hot desk and work remotely, it would be interesting to know what percentage of desks are occupied on a daily basis.

Panel’s comments

A future office model for suburban areas in the UK. Superlative daylighting.

Working with the existing car park, adding the bridge, wetlands and improvement to public realm are all great moves. I love how the building works as a huge shed that one day can be used entirely differently. The canopy seems to care equally well for trees and people.

Stackyard House, Suffolk by Mole Architects

Stackyard, nr Diss by Mole Architects

Acknowledging her bias for timber, and naming timber projects for all her top three, Fionn Stevenson awarded Stackyard top place. ‘I’m putting housing first because it has such a huge impact on our emissions, and Mole have a deep understanding of materiality,’ she said.

Panel’s comments

One of the few architects that thinks through materials as an integrated response to place and sustainability demands.

Good quality of daylight, well-judged domestic spaces, and good use of simple passive environmental design principles (compact form, orientation etc). Easily replicable.

Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester by Haworth Tompkins

Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester by Haworth Tompkins

Panel’s comments

Sensitive approach to refurbishment of Grade II-listed building.

Main focus is a kind of editing out, which is a quiet but strong strategy, clearing away all clutter and piecemeal extensions to enhance the original. No particular innovation, but very very well done. 

The best of the rest

River Studio, Warwickshire by Sjolander da Cruz Architects

River Studio, Warwickshire by Sjolander da Cruz Architects

Panel’s comments

Quality design with a sound sustainability proposition.

Replicable solution for many agricultural buildings, which retains existing structure.

Elegant expression of services, which are accessible and easy to service in future.

Lancaster University Engineering Building, Lancaster by John McAslan + Partners

Lancaster University Engineering Building by John McAslan+Partners

Innovative projects

Brighton Waste House, Brighton by BBM Sustainable Design

Brighton Waste House, Brighton and Hove by BBM Sustainable Design

The panel considered this a fantastic one-off demonstrator project, but were disappointed that waste materials had been slotted into a house morphology rather than providing clues for an innovative building form derived from waste materials themselves.

Keynsham Town Hall, Keynsham by AHR

Keynsham Civic Centre and One Stop Shop by AHR

The panel applauded Keynsham’s thorough briefing and the Soft Landings process as well as the building’s responsive environmental form. But they noted that it appeared to have been designed by engineers rather than architects.


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