ALLFORD HALL MONAGHAN MORRIS From the serendipitous cubic elegance of Latitude House, in London's Primrose Hill, to the innovative quirkiness of Crown Street Buildings, Leeds, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM)'s collection more than fulfils the AJ's criteria of breadth and versatility of design, making it a worthy winner of the AJ special award for the best portfolio of entries.
Latitude House is a striking example of modern luxury and taste, adding to the gritty urban grain of Camden. It ascends from a dauntingly tight triangular brownfield site, which was formerly a Jet petrol station, and is anked by offices and Edwardian townhouses on a prominent junction between Regents Park and Camden Town. The adventurousness of this project is matched by the audacious response to Crown Street Buildings, again an awkward site complicated by Victorian vernacular, which today stands as a model of contextual architecture.
Both concepts are approached from angles out of the ordinary that, when taken as a whole, said AJ editor Isabel Allen, balance risk with a clear appreciation of conservation. Latitude House pays homage to the scale and footprint of neighbouring warehouse architecture with its lower level set back from the street and a spectacular firstfloor cantilever on the south elevation, which continues to step outwards and upwards on every level. Limestone cladding - by far the most striking feature - is punctured with large glass apertures that create a formal street elevation; the rear, by contrast, comprises an informal palette of white render and glazing softened by landscaping. 'A beautifully bold treatment without subordinating the majesty of adjacent landmarks, ' commented Allen.
The signature style of Latitude House is continued in the chameleon-like elevations of Crown Street Buildings (see best mixed-use development category on page 34) where a brick facade is punctuated by both deep aluminium windows and glazed faience panels that transmute through yellow, green and blue. This robust approach to the challenge of stitching inventive modern design onto existing quality architecture - the triangular development incorporates a refurbished terrace of Victorian houses - is followed through with aplomb.
'It's a modern reworking of strapping warehouse buildings, juxtaposed confidently among the muscular vernacular of Leeds, ' concluded Allen.