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The AJ’s top 10 buildings of 2016

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Architecture editor Laura Mark picks her favourite buildings of 2016

2016 Top10 Buildings

2016 Top10 Buildings

Tate Modern Switch House by Herzog & de Meuron

From the rough concrete of the power station’s original oil tanks to the carefully detailed timber and in-situ cast concrete of its huge circulation spaces, I love everything about the Tate Modern extension except for the lifts – they take ages and there are not enough of them. But why would you take the lifts anyway, when the stairs are so beautiful?

2016 Top10 Buildings2

2016 Top10 Buildings2

Outhouse by Loyn & Co

Its been 10 years since a private house last made it on to the Stirling Prize shortlist, but Loyn & Co’s Outhouse was a worthy contender for the coveted prize. The variety of spaces achieved on the site adds a real depth – from vast glazed living spaces and north-lit artists’ studios to smaller, cosier bedrooms and sheltered courtyards. And you can’t beat a house where the owners use scooters to navigate it.

2016 Top10 Buildings3

2016 Top10 Buildings3

Maggie’s Manchester by Foster + Partners

Norman Foster returns to his home town with this Maggie’s Centre – and it’s very Norman. Drawing influence from his love of flying, the building’s highly engineered and lightweight timber roof soars above the centre’s homely spaces with its wings resembling those of an aircraft.

2016 Top10 Buildings4

2016 Top10 Buildings4

Caruso St John at its best, and a deserved winner of this year’s Stirling Prize. The sophisticated reworking of a series of Grade II-listed Victorian former scenery painting workshops is well crafted and beautifully detailed. The three staircases alone make the project, and are a joy to experience.

2016 Top10 Buildings5

2016 Top10 Buildings5

City of Glasgow Riverside Campus by Reiach and Hall and Michael Laird Architects

Having visited all six projects shortlisted for this year’s Stirling Prize with an alternative panel of judges, I was impressed by this challenging scheme. It had an unambitious client, a tricky site and an average budget, but this building shows that with a good architect even the most ordinary of buildings can be lifted to another level.

2016 Top10 Buildings6

2016 Top10 Buildings6

Arts University of Bournemouth Drawing Studio by Peter Cook

This bright blue organically shaped drawing studio looks like it has been plucked straight from one of Peter Cook’s own imaginative and colourful drawings. A departure from the bland into something eye-catching and colourful, it’s fun, it’s different and it makes you smile. This building is just what 2016 needed.

2016 Top10 Buildings7

2016 Top10 Buildings7

Walmer Yard by Peter Salter

Intense, sexy and slightly naughty, you have to see this scheme in the flesh to really take it in. It’s no surprise these four houses around a courtyard took 13 years to complete and had a seemingly limitless budget. A smorgasbord of architectural delight, it has used every material imaginable to create its warren-like interlocking spaces, from woven agricultural hurdles and cork to black-painted steel and tufa limestone.

2016 Top10 Buildings8

2016 Top10 Buildings8

Life House (Ty Bwyd) by John Pawson

A stark contrast to Peter Salter’s Walmer Yard, this is modern-day secular retreat for Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture by the master of pared-back minimalism, John Pawson. It is serious, subtle and sombre. After the events of 2016, I want to go and take some quiet time lying on the concrete slab of its tomb-like contemplation chamber.

2016 Top10 Buildings9

2016 Top10 Buildings9

Garden House by Hayhurst and Co

What’s not to like about a house where the residents have to climb atop its ziggurat-shaped roof to tend their garden? It was also a bargain at £300,000.

2016 Top10 Buildings10

2016 Top10 Buildings10

Leicester Print Workshop by Takero Shimazaki Architects

I spent seven years living in Leicester, and during my time there I went to a number of events at the Leicester Print Workshop’s previous home, so I’m slightly biased when it comes to this project. But what Takero Shimazaki has done has transformed a previously nondescript 70s industrial shed into a functional space designed to be personalised by the artists who use it.

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