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AJ Small Projects shortlist 2018

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We can now reveal all 20 schemes in the running for this year’s AJ Small Projects Awards

Now in its 23rd year, the annual AJ Small Projects Awards celebrate that scale of design that forms the core practice for many architects, as well as some more off-grid projects that allow practitioners to innovate and experiment, all with a budget of under £250,000.

What the schemes share is an intelligent use of budget and creative answering of a brief – above all, making big architecture on a small scale. 

The shortlisted designers will present their projects to a panel of judges, which this year includes Takero Shimazaki, director of Takero Shimazaki Architects; last year’s winner Kate Darby, principal of Kate Darby Architects; and managing director of Lendlease’s European property division Jonathan Emery.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 18 April during the launch event for an exhibition of all the shortlisted entries at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in London. Please join us there – it’s free to attend. Click here to get your ticket.

AJ Small Projects is run in association with Marley Eternit


20a Northburgh Street

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This laminated timber structure is an extension to an existing single-storey ancillary building, creating office space for the London HQ of CABU, a new company specialising in prefabricated modular buildings.The addition was conceived as a sculptural pavilion celebrating the qualities of the prefabricated timber structures the company will sell. Five portal frames and the mullions were prefabricated in Montlebon, France. The site’s sheltered nature demanded as much natural light as possible, and a simple glazing system was devised using economical fixed glazed units. Structurally insulated panels were used for the roof and the new intermediate floor.  Exterior cladding has been used for the interior, creating a warm space and also allowing the company to show off the materials it offers to visiting customers.              

Cost £220,000 • Location London • Completed December 2017 • Floor area 137m² • Client CABÜ • Photography Chris Twaddle

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Matheson Whiteley
Wrong House

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Wrong House is an extension to a semi-detached Victorian townhouse within the Victoria Park Conservation Area in east London. Its proportions, materials and detailing are developed to form an appropriate setting for the neighbouring Grade II*-listed Gothic revival church, St John of Jerusalem (1848). The project provides a workshop and en suite bedroom within a wedge-shaped volume derived from the site’s unusual geometry. The façade is set back from the street and follows the curve of Lauriston Road. This creates a subservient relationship with the original house, while establishing an independent identity within the wider context.The project adopts a London approach of monolithic construction, emphasising volume and material continuity in relation to the house. A thin black mineral wash unifies the brickwork.

Cost £93,000 • Location London • Completed March 2017 • Floor area 30m² • Client Private • Photography Maris Mezulis

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Matt + Fiona
Made in Oakfield

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Made in Oakfield was designed and built by teenagers from Oakfield School, Hull, a residential school for young people facing emotional and behavioural challenges. The council had given the school a long-term lease of an allotment to provide the students with a space of their own. Working with Matt + Fiona, the group identified what they wanted on the site: a den and social space as well as an outdoor classroom. They then developed the design through model-making workshops. A lightweight timber frame is supported on a suspended deck. The envelope is made of ply with a unique rubber-painted skin. Based on the students’ ideas, the southern wall has large, pivoting doors that lock-down securely at night and open up in good weather to provide an extended canopy with deck below. This is a project designed to empower young people to realise that they can be involved in transforming their local area. 

Cost £21,805 • Location Hull • Completed April 2017 • Floor area 17m² • Client Oakfield School/Hull City of Culture • Photography French + Tye

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Nicholas Szczepaniak Architects
Union Wharf

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Union Wharf is a mid-terrace, three-storey property built within the footprint of a converted factory building along the Regent’s Canal in Islington, London. The aim was to transform a dated dwelling into a modern, energy-efficient and spatially generous family home. The architect’s approach was to use moderately priced materials, adding value through thoughtful, crafted details and care during execution. Works included transforming an existing rooftop conservatory into a habitable space with an external terrace, and reconfiguring the ground-floor primary living space, resolving the disconnection of the kitchen, lounge and dining area by creating an open, free-flowing space. Inspired by the building’s former industrial use, the material palette incorporates raw and uncovered finishes such as the original concrete soffit.

Cost £227,000 • Location London • Completed October 2017 • Floor area 163m² • Clients Martin Ross and Sunyoung Um • Photography Nicholas Worley

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Office S&M
Salmen House

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This build-to-rent, three-bed house, with textured render and terrazzo details, contains generous vertical spaces on a constrained corner site. It bookends a mid-century terrace in Plaistow, east London, making effective use of a tight corner plot that was previously an end-of-terrace garden. Its millennial pink exterior breaks away from the low-key image of rented accommodation. The complementary external colours – salmon pink and lush green – visually push apart to create a feeling of greater volume; the pink moving forwards and the green stepping back. The stippled render and textured terrazzo have a material richness to them, catching changing shadows on the long flank wall throughout the afternoon. Surrounding the windows, polished terrazzo reveals bounce additional light inside, as well as mirroring the window details found along the mid-century terrace.

Cost £205,000 • Location London • Completed December 2017 • Floor area 87m² • Client My Property & Home • Photography French + Tye

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Studio Bark
Holloway Lightbox

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Situated at the bottom of the clients’ back garden, Holloway Lightbox is a photography studio, screenwriter’s retreat and flexible family space. In a nod to the couple’s respective professions – photography and film – a series of hand-made coloured tiles creates a playful ‘pixelated’ façade. This skin presents an emphatic juxtaposition between new and old, incorporating chalky surface tones, helping to complement the rigid Victorian masonry that defines the adjacent streetscape. The roof maximises south-westerly light through a full-width glazed opening, before respectfully sloping back down towards the neighbour’s garden.The construction of the main shell took roughly four weeks and was assisted by two teams of architecture students from the University of East London. 

Cost £30,000 • Location London • Completed November 2017 • Floor area 15m² • Client Holloway Family • Photography Jon Holloway

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library



Studio Weave
Belvue School Woodland Classrooms

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Belvue School, for students with learning difficulties and other needs, has been given custody over some adjacent woodland, and wanted a building that would act as a gatehouse to this area. Studio Weave worked with the school to design a timber-framed structure supporting a standing seam roof, creating 150m2 of spaces with a domestic quality and intimate scale. The approach was to develop a collective narrative with students that would open up imaginative ways of engaging with this natural asset. Three linked spaces provide different environments: ‘Cosy Lounge’ is for workshops and engaging with the woodland, as well as being a calm private sensory space; ‘Sociable Kitchen’ is for food preparation and group dining; while linking them, ‘Messy Barn’ allows outdoor learning, whatever the weather. 

Cost £234,000 • Location London • Completed October 2017 • Floor area 93m² • Client Belvue School • Photographer Studio Weave

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Teatum + Teatum
Garden House

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This is the complete reorganisation of a terraced mews house, adding a roof level and a connected garden room. Garden House is designed specifically for renting, organised to adapt to a number of users, from a couple to a group of sharers.  The client wanted external space that could interact with the living spaces and connect with local views. This informed the inversion of the traditional relationship between living and sleeping. Bedrooms are located at ground level, while living spaces are on the first and second floors. A second-floor study space provides a daylit room connected to a roof garden to make working from home a pleasure. Flexibility is integrated into the spatial organisation.Living spaces are double-aspect and double-height, structured to overlap and interconnect, allowing a visual continuity across space.

Cost £220,000 • Location London • Completed November 2017 • Floor area 99m² • Client Noiascape • Photography Luke Hayes

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Trevor Horne Architects
PEER gallery + pocket park

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This project saw the transformation of the area in front of a post office, flats and the PEER gallery on Hoxton Street from a drab, neglected area into a welcoming public space, together with the building of a new façade and ‘art’ shopfront for the gallery. A new public plaza with trees, seating, bike stands and art installation has been created, together with a planted vertical wall and community garden, named Khadija’s Garden in memory of PEER’s intern, the artist Khadija Saye, who was heavily involved in the fundraising for these improvements and was one of the 71 who died in the Grenfell Tower fire. The improvements provide PEER gallery with a new public presence to the street, showcasing its art and community exhibitions, while animating and engaging with the surrounding public realm. 

Cost £182,000 • Location London • Completed May 2016 • Floor area 85m2 (internal), 164m2 (external) • Client PEER • Photography Ollie Hammick

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


West Architecture
Rooftop Suite

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A pair of unadorned, utilitarian zinc boxes on top of two late-20th century homes in Hackney have been designed as low-cost and low-impact house extensions, providing each property with a new bedroom, shower and WC. The bedrooms are clad on all vertical and floor surfaces with Douglas fir plywood stained with a white lye oil, while the shower room is made up of terrazzo sheets. A simple grey-painted hallway connects the two main rooms and the three varying environments become one united space when sliding partitions are left open. The rooftop enclosure is constructed of a timber frame with a plywood stressed skin structure, minimising its build-up and weight. The extension is set back from the front of the main house, rendering it virtually invisible from ground level. 

Cost £125,000 • Location London • Completed December 2017• Floor area 25m• Clients Hana Ichikawa and Graham West • Photography Ben Blossom

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


In-betweeny House

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This micro-extension serves to renovate and extend but also reimagine the use of the existing house. The property had an unused upper ground floor and a dark, constrained living space on the lower ground floor. By extending just 2m to the side of the property, alma-nac was able to address both issues. On the lower ground floor, a new front door and entry lobby alter the primary access to the house, feeding directly into the heart of the home: the lower ground living space. The first floor, separated from the vertical circulation, can now act as a completely distinct studio apartment, complete with its own front door – perfect for a temporary lodger or resident teenager unable to afford London housing. 

Cost £121,000 • Location London • Completed July 2017 • Floor area 82m² • Client Undisclosed • Photography Jack Hobhouse

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library



Baxendale Studio
Riverside Solidarity

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This project was intended as a tool to analyse and document the post-industrial condition of the Govan and Gdansk shipyards. The first installation was built on the derelict Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow, using 9cm-thick rope found on the site. The finished piece provided two unique places to sit and engage with the landscape: one seat facing symbols of Govan’s past, the other its future. After its completion, the local young people who had helped build the structure revealed that, having exhausted their interest in it, they would set fire to it. This seemed to be an appropriate way to terminate this stage of the project. The opportunity to make a parallel project in Gdansk allowed Baxendale to test this mode of architecture as a tool for registering a place and researching its condition. Over four days, it recreated the form and method of the intervention delivered in Govan, then worked collaboratively to create a place of shelter and enclosure. This work uses very simple methodologies of construction: timber frames constructed in-situ and then wrapped with found rope secured with cable ties. 

Cost £1,800 • Location Govan and Gdansk • Completed August 2017 • Floor area 12m² • Client Fablevision Studios • Photography Ben Parry (Govan) and Lee Ivett (Gdansk)

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Carl Trenfield Architects

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Carl Trenfield Architects was commissioned to design and produce the notional heart of this home in rural Kent: a family room including the kitchen and an adjacent space for music. The practice’s response to this commission stemmed from investigations into the origins of the rural kitchen and its ability to convey both the beautiful and the tough and utilitarian – how a material might shape itself through continued use. Every joint, element and mark made was first modelled, tested and then further drawn for fabrication via CNC cutting, enabling absolute control, expression and accuracy. The practice conceived both the positive forms and the negative formwork, drawing close to 20 individual casts (thresholds, surfaces, wall panels, sinks) and also pouring and striking the concrete. 

Cost £45,000 • Location Kent • Completed June 2017 • Floor area 45m² • Client Undisclosed • Photography Daniel Hewitt 

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Naweni Kindergarten

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The Naweni Kindergarten – designed, built and funded by Caukin Studio and the Naqaqa Giving Foundation – serves a number of settlements on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji. Previously, there was no dedicated space for the kindergarten children to learn; instead, a dimly lit canteen room was being used – a space too small for the number of children. The new building consists of a series of portal timber frames, prefabricated on the ground, then lifted into place by hand. Within the portal frames, the space is split into a large classroom, an adjacent toilet and an entrance veranda. The repeated truss structure provides a distinct aesthetic with a high ceiling.  The timber frame allows for flexibility against strong cyclone winds, with all connecting junctions carefully considered to ensure there are no weak points. 

Cost £15,000 • Location Fiji • Completed September 2017 • Floor area 60m² • Clients Naweni Village and Naqaqa Giving Foundation • Photography Joshua Peasley

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Fämily Architects
37 Deramore Gardens

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This new-build project in Belfast by local practice Fämily Architects aimed to create a two-bedroom house with maximum flexibility using minimum space. The result is a mini-dwelling of 56m2 internal area, including a lofty live/work/play space. The house transforms a brownfield site that was subject to anti-social behaviour into a place that has attracted an almost constant flow of visitors, who come to look, talk about and photograph the building. It is clad in black larch with black and yellow windows and features south-facing passive thermal and photovoltaic solar panels. The aesthetics merge the practice co-founders’ heritage from Northern Ireland and Sweden, embracing Belfast’s maker culture. They have created their own tile range, wallpaper and furniture for the house, including Belfast Bluebell ceramic tiles, Yellow Box wallpaper and a CNC-cut notch table for the interior. 

Cost £100,000 • Location Belfast  • Completed July 2017 • Floor area 56m² • Client Alasdair Cumming • Photography Grainne Cumming

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Adolphus Road
Gpad London

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Charles Bettes from Clerkenwell practice Gpad London took a tiny 6x7m former garage site and turned it into a compact two-bedroom home in just 10 months. The small site enabled Bettes to break into the fiercely competitive and expensive inner-city London housing market while still allowing him to live comfortably. The architecture had to be sympathetic to its location while maintaining its own identity. The choice and use of materials – from brick to brass cladding – complement the house’s miniature scale and simultaneously blend in with the neighbouring Victorian terraces. The overall design carefully considers spatial planning, the impact of materials and the building’s proportions to create a thoughtful layout. It layers rooms to make the house feel larger, uses doors and windows to create dual aspects, and floods the rooms with light. 

Cost £240,000 • Location London • Completed May 2017 • Floor area 77m² • Client Charles Bettes • Photography Tim Crocker

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Graeme Massie Architects
Respite Pavilion

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Access to outdoor environments and the encouragement of an active lifestyle play an important role in relation to mental illness and wellbeing.  The Respite Pavilion was commissioned as part of the arts strategy for the new Acute Mental Health and North Ayrshire Community Hospital campus at Irvine. It provides an important place of outdoor relaxation, encouraging patients, staff and relatives to escape the wards and waiting rooms of the hospital for the open landscape of the wider campus. Three rectangular planes, each with a circular aperture, intersect to form a pavilion arranged around a stand of birch trees. The pavilion frames views, and creates a more hospitable outdoor microclimate. Seating is loosely dispersed, happily accommodating groups and individuals. The construction explores how the area’s earth and geology can help create a meaningful sense of place, rooting it in a wider landscape context.  

Cost £36,000 • Location Irvine • Completed September 2016 • Floor area 69m² • Client NHS Ayrshire & Arran • Photography Russell Beard

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library



Hayatsu Architects with
Central Saint Martins
The Road

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The Road is a community engagement and interpretation project based in and around the town of Coniston in the Lake District, conceived by the non-profit arts organisation Grizedale Arts. It is a reworking of John Ruskin’s 1874 road-building project, which aimed to impart the notion of working for a greater good.  Hayatsu Architects, Central Saint Martins students and Spatial Practices staff Gregory Ross and Carlotta Novella collaborated on the design and fabrication of two timber structures: an information kiosk and a community bread oven. Fabrication took place last summer at a workshop at Central Saint Martins. In October, the two structures were transported and installed in the Lake District; the kiosk at the John Ruskin Museum and the oven at the Coniston Institute. 

Cost £15,000 • Location Cumbria • Completed October 2017 • Floor area 10m² • Client Grizedale Arts • Photography Motoko Fujita and Gregory Ross

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


How About Studio
Miner’s Legend

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Miner’s Legend is a small cabin inspired by the lost experiences and redundant structures of the recently closed coal mining industry. Elements of the design were developed in conversation with former miners at the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, whose resident blacksmith created some traditional mining metalwork for the project. The materials used balance the cabin’s industrial references against the creation of a modern cabin experience for guests. The interior references the coal face and shuttering used in the mines, with angular black tunnels concealing habitable pockets clad with rough-sawn Douglas fir. The exterior is a collage of  Welsh mining structures, colours and materials,  softened by stained timber cladding. Its skin is punctuated with large openings to give views of the surrounding Welsh landscape. 

Cost £12,500 • Location Tywyn • Completed May 2017 • Floor area 17m² • Client Epic Retreats • Photography Nick Wood

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


Invisible Studio

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This self-built prototype £20,000 house has been constructed from materials sourced from construction waste and locally grown unseasoned timber. It is designed to be legally transported on a public highway and used as permanent or temporary accommodation. A removable wheeled bogie slides out from under the steel chassis when it is not being moved.  The trailer is clad in corrugated fibreglass and steel and internally lined in used shuttering ply. All of the joinery is from plywood off-cuts, including the two staircases. Natural light is provided by both gable ends, which are ‘glazed’ with high-performance interlocking polycarbonate. The building uses scavenged insulation, the doors were sourced from a skip, and the rooflights were trade seconds. While conceived as a low-cost domestic space, its versatility means it could easily function as a workspace or something else. 

Cost £20,000 • Location Bath • Completed September 2017 • Floor area 40m² • Client Invisible Studio • Photography Invisible Studio

See more photos and drawings of this project at the AJ Buildings Library


From Marley Eternit

As sponsor of the AJ Small Projects awards, not only do we gain a glimpse into future design trends but we also get to meet the architects and gain insight into the challenges they face, particularly when it comes to choice of materials. Building relationships with architects and supporting them with the right technical information and product innovation is critical to us, and the AJ Small Projects sponsorship is an important part of this process.

Being a manufacturer, one of our key roles in the construction process is to ensure that we are one step ahead of design trends. Having close alignment with architects helps to make sure we continue to produce roofing products with the versatility, performance and environmental qualities needed to help them push the boundaries of design and meet sustainability requirements.

Marley Eternit is proud to have been able to support the AJ Small Projects awards for the past eight years because it gives smaller architectural practices a platform to demonstrate their innovative and inspirational buildings.  

Sarah Harding, marketing director 

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