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AJ Architecture Awards 2019 winner: Mixed-Use

168 Upper Street by Groupwork has been named best mixed-use project at the 2019 AJ Architecture Awards 

This residential and retail project rebuilds the ‘missing piece’ of an Islington terrace lost due to Blitz bomb damage. The architecture avoids trying to recreate the past but contains echoes of it along with distortions intended as a reference to the nature of memory. 

The practice built a virtual model of the ‘existing’ building based on the study of historical site photographs and a laser survey of the lost block’s mirror at the other end of the parade of buildings. The digital model was then used to create a cast from 300 expanded-polystyrene panels, which were used to pour terracotta-coloured concrete. This formed the building’s 0.5m-thick pigmented concrete shell, including its external and internal finishes and features. The frame of the building, meanwhile, is formed from cross-laminated timber.

The judges said the way in which architect, client and contractor had worked together to create something so thought-provoking and original was exemplary. They noted that the contractor was so proud of the building that  it literally put its name on it.

‘This project invents new ways to build and is full of invention and delight,’ said one judge, while another remarked: ‘So much has been squeezed into this design. It’s unusual and amazing and the inside really works.’ 


  • Notting Dale Village Phase 3 by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
  • Lambeth Civic Quarter by Cartwright Pickard
  • Buckingham Green by Fletcher Priest Architects
  • Floral Court by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates 
  • 73-89 Oxford Street and 1 Dean Street by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands
  • Hand Axe Yard by Material Architects Energy Hub by Morris+Company
  • The Kantor Centre of Excellence by Penoyre & Prasad 


  • Chris Brandon, managing principal, Perkins and Will
  • Sam Jacob, principal, Sam Jacob Studio
  • Eva Jiricna, principal, Eva Jiricna Architects