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Room for learning When Ellis Williams turned Gateshead's old Baltic flour mills into the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, it stripped out the working heart, the old silos. In Oslo, local architect HRTB has taken the opposite approach, preserving the geometry of a silo and finding a new use for it. A grain silo, constructed in 1953, was seen as a pioneer in the use of travelling formwork and therefore the decision was taken to keep it and convert it into student flats. The 50m-high structure is three 'tubes'deep, and access corridors run along the central tubes. At lower level there are single-room apartments, each occupying a tube and a bit, with bathrooms tucked into the interstices between the tubes.Higher up the building the central tube has been removed, making it possible to create larger, two bedroom apartments. In total there are 226 units on 18 levels.Construction involved casting more than 1,500 reinforced concrete floors and cutting about 1,000 window openings in the external walls.Rooms are more spacious than the standard student accommodation and there is specially designed built-in furniture that sits against the curved walls.Colour-coding of different floors should help residents remember which level they are on in what is, inescapably, a highly repetitive building.

Hopkins takes the prize Michael Hopkins and Partners was the overall winner in the Concrete Society's 2003 Awards, with its Manchester Art Gallery (above left) which joins two existing buildings together into a seamless whole.The judges said: 'The new galleries exhibit exposed precast column and roof soffits with an outstanding quality of finish.The vaulted roofs are exquisite in shape and detail and the colour of the concrete chosen to achieve the necessary light level has worked very successfully. The quality and finish of all the concrete is exceptionally good.'

The SAS Institute in Upper Wittington, Bucks (centre), designed by Brocklehurst Architects, won the buildings category. Judges praised the concrete finish of the atrium and the exposed ceiling.

The mature structures category was won by the Carlsberg-Tetley Brewery in Northampton (right), designed by Danish architect Knud Munk and opened in 1971. The building, which has already exceeded its design life of 30 years, won praise for its quality and finish.'The walls appear as fresh as when constructed, ' the judges said, noting that 'minimal maintenance has been required and regular cleaning, using low-pressure water, has preserved the appearance of the structure'.

Student design A new international concrete design competition for students of architecture and design in eight European countries has been launched by The Concrete Centre in association with the British Cement Association.

Under the theme of 'Robustness', the competition is open to all registered students of schools of art, design, architecture and landscape.Participating countries are Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Spain, France and the UK. Students are invited to make project proposals that investigate the innovative use of concrete in architecture and design embracing the theme of robustness.

The competition is in two stages, a national and then an international competition open to the national winners.All national winners will be invited to a five-day international design workshop to be held in the Netherlands, with all costs met by The Concrete Centre.

For further details call Rosemary Tobutt on 0 700 4 822 822, email rtobutt@concretecentre. com or visit the competition website at www. concretedesigncompetition. com All about Holl Steven Holl's Simmons Hall (see page 4 of this Concrete Quarterly), appears on the cover of a new collection of his work, published by Thames & Hudson.Apparently the only book available to show Holl's work from the very start of his career to the present day, it is a handsome and affordable collection of his projects, both built and unbuilt.Concrete enthusiasts can admire work such as the Fukuoka Housing in Japan and the chapel of Saint Ignatius at Seattle University.

The description of the latter includes some interesting information on how the concrete panels were assembled.Unfortunately, this is the exception.Too much of the text seems to have come directly from Holl's website, without the intervention of anyone concerned with such basic skills as grammar and good English.But with good photography and drawings, the book is still worth having.

Steven Holl, edited and with an introduction by Francesco Garofalo.

Thames & Hudson. £15.95

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