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RIBA Awards 2013: Workplace

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Although some practices prefer recognition for cultural jobs, workplace and production buildings were well received again this year, with five projects on the National and EU lists and therefore potential Stirling Prize finalists

There are also impressive Regional Award winners, including Fosters’ 7 More London. Aukett Fitzroy Robinson’s M&S Cheshire Oaks sets new standards in design and sustainable construction for out-of-town retail; Dixon Jones and Donald Insall Associates’ Quadrant 3 is a dapper mixed-use retrofit of a faded Soho hotel and, along with Zaha Hadid Architects’ Pierresvives in Montpellier, there is John McAslan + Partners’ Olympic Energy Centre. In the International category, and therefore potential Lubetkin Prize winners, there’s a Zaha project in China and Hugh Broughton’s Halley VI Antarctic Research Station.

M&S Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port, Aukett Fitzroy Robinson


The largest new Marks & Spencer store outside London is a powerful statement about its belief in the future, extremely well envisioned and delivered by Aukett Fitzroy Robinson (AJS 05.12). The glulam timber roof is powerful and memorable. The store is warm, colourful, spacious and filled with light. With many green credentials, including heat recovery, powerpoints for electric vehicles, rainwater recovery, ‘hempcrete’ walls and natural biodiversity there’s much to commend.

SOAR Works, Sheffield, 00:/


00:/’s design exploits a triangular site by creating a building with a social role for the community. The architects’ response results in a building that opens up to maximise natural light and passive solar gain, but closes down where noise and height are issues. Not originally part of the brief, the full-height central atrium lets in light, aids orientation and is somewhere for tenants to meet. Every depressed neighbourhood should have one of these low-cost buildings.

Quadrant 3, London W1, Dixon Jones with Donald Insall Associates


Quadrant 3 (AJ 24.11.11) is a large mixed-use scheme in London’s West End. The project ambitiously and successfully tackles issues of conservation, sustainability and regeneration. On a triangular site, the three corners of the existing early 20th-century buildings, themselves replacements for Nash’s originals, were retained and their faience facades restored. The complexity of the programme: restored Art Deco restaurants, new small-scale offices and a hotel are skilfully assembled into a cohesive whole.

Olympic Energy Centre, Stratford, London E9, John McAslan + Partners


The importance of this facility for the Games and their legacy is not to be underestimated (AJ 28.02.13). The design had to create a new model for power generation, a sustainable, cleaner and more efficient system that provides electricity, heating and cooling to the surrounding evolving community. A Cor-ten expanded metal mesh covers a black synthetic waterproof rubber skin. The 45m flue is clad in solid and perforated Cor-ten steel sheet, reinforcing its sculptural qualities.

Pierresvives, Montpellier, Zaha Hadid Architects


Conceived as a fallen tree trunk, Pierresvives is a dramatic and imposing building. The scheme combines archives, sports administration and a multimedia library in a monolithic building. The archive is in the ‘trunk’, where light and humidity are strictly controlled. Office spaces set along the edge are generous in size with good daylight and ventilation. The public art area, main auditorium and library are located centrally and indicated externally by a lightening of the mass with an increase in glazing.

Galaxy Soho, Beijing, Zaha Hadid Architects


Situated on the second of 10 ring roads that define Beijing, this shopping centre is distinctly urban. It is a civic building as much as it is commercial. The creation of public space at lower ground level with seating and fountains demonstrates a rare generosity, in a country where commercialisation is key. The building’s mass has been broken into four asymmetric domes of varying heights. Each structure encloses a glazed atrium, around which the internal circulation is arranged.

Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, Brunt Ice Shelf, Hugh Broughton Architects


Halley VI (AJ 11.04.13) is the most southerly research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), located on the 150m-thick floating Brunt Ice Shelf. The modules are supported on steel skis and hydraulically driven legs that allow the station to mechanically climb out of the snow each year. Bedrooms, laboratories, office areas and energy centres are housed in standardised blue modules. A larger two-storey red module provides the social heart of the station and is used for living, dining and recreation.


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