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AJ Specification Awards winners revealed

Ajsa 2019 index v012

Announcing the winners of the AJ’s new awards, which celebrate outstanding working relationships between architects, manufacturers and suppliers

The first-ever AJ Specification Awards were held at The Principal hotel in Manchester on Friday 15 February, with winners taking home prizes in 12 categories ranging from Bathrooms to Technology.

The winners include John Robertson Architects’ use of faience cladding to transform a tired office building; a modular system for a prefabricated residential tower by Metropolitan Workshop; and the asphalt used for the landscaping at AECOM’s North West Cambridge development.

Our judging panels looked for entries that effectively demonstrated the design challenge and how a particular product or material was used to meet it, as well as evidence of how the architect worked with the supplier or manufacturer to achieve a successful outcome. Projects had to have been completed between March 2017 and September 2018.  

Across the board, the level and quality of design and innovation was excellent, proof, if any were needed, that the design, performance and quality of products and materials is at the core of great architecture. 

Ajsa 2019 bathrooms 1

Ajsa 2019 bathrooms 1

Bathrooms

Bathrooms

Nine Elms Point by Broadway Malyan with Impey Showers

The winning entry in this category, a bespoke wet-room drainage channel, offered what the judges said was ‘a very neat design solution’ and ‘a really good example of an iterative process of specification; of working together to overcome a tricky design challenge and find an appropriate solution for a specific project’. They were also impressed by how the collaborative process had resulted in the design and production of a new linear drainage product range for the market.

The challenge had been to find a solution for wet-room drainage across a large-scale residential development for which no proprietary product existed that would fit. Broadway Malyan and the specification team at Barratt Homes worked closely with Impey Showers’ R&D team to develop a new solution.  

The result was an extensive new range of high-specification polished stainless-steel wet-room drainage channels and tops, which have since been added to Impey’s main range in a variety of sizes. As the judges commented: ‘This collaboration will have a longer impact’ and ‘by modularising it, this solution has resulted in real long‑term added benefit’.

Project data
Location London
Completed September 2018 
Came into use September 2017 
Project cost £140,000

Judges
Duncan Blackmore, director, Arrant Land
Christian Bocci, partner, Weston Williamson + Partners
David Illingworth, design director, AKT II
Andy McConachie, associate partner, Heatherwick Studio
Clare Murray, head of sustainability, Levitt Bernstein

Shortlisted
Lympstone Manor by Rud Sawers Architects with Schlüter-Systems and Devon Stone
International Brand Standards Generation 3 by Yotel HQ with Roca

 

Ajsa 2019 brick and stone 1

Ajsa 2019 brick and stone 1

Brick

Brick

Hans Place by Squire & Partners with Lambs

A partnership of architect Squire & Partners and fine brick supplier Lambs achieved something exceptional at Hans Place, a development of 10 contemporary apartments inserted into the 19th-century streetscape of Knightsbridge. Responding to the urban grain of the adjacent Hans Place Garden as well as the area’s Dutch revival buildings, the project boasts intricately carved red rose brick featuring a geometric pattern based on the form of the cocoa bean. This seed has historical meaning in Hans Place as it was first introduced to the UK from Jamaica by Hans Sloane, the naturalist and collector who gave it its name. 

One of the challenges was using modern techniques to match the artistry and craftsmanship of the Victorian architecture. Following exhaustive testing of alternative approaches and iterations, the team eventually opted for CNC cutting of the brick to achieve the exact dimensions required. One judge said: ‘The level of detail is fantastic and the project has not been compromised when hurdles have been hit. This is a stand-out winner.’

Project data
Location London
Completed March 2017
Came into use November 2017
Project cost Confidential

Judges
Lyle Chrystie, director, Reiach and Hall
David Finlay, director, Acanthus Clews Architects
Ana Moldavsky, associate, Walters & Cohen
Carol Pyrah, associate director of planning, Historic England

Shortlisted
National Memorial Arboretum by Fira with Marshalls
16 Church Street by Keppie with Taylor Maxwell
Allum Lane by Square Feet Architects with Peterson Tegl
Holmewood House School by Studio Partington with Brickmongers 

 

Ajsa 2019 colour and finishes1

Ajsa 2019 colour and finishes1

Colour

Colour

Chapel by Craftworks with Mike Wye & Associates and Artisan Plastercraft

A detached family home carved from a derelict chapel, this project was conceived as an ‘interplay between narrative and geometry’ says the architect, and is also a response to a restrictive planning process. The house uses light as its key material. The interior spaces are carefully faceted to create both the domesticity of a modern family home and an ecclesiastical atmosphere to reflect the building’s former life. The judges said Craftworks’ collaboration with Mike Wye & Associates and Artisan Plastercraft had overcome significant technical challenges, leading to a beautiful and unique house.

‘You think of lime plaster as a traditional material but it’s done here in such a contemporary way – the result is incredible and beautiful,’ one said. Another remarked: ‘They’ve tried to achieve something monolithic and have succeeded. The ceiling is critical to the whole design and you would not have got this outcome without serious testing and incredible collaboration.’

Project data
Location London
Completed June 2018
Came into use June 2018
Project cost£725,000 main build, £125,000 landscape

Judges
Lyle Chrystie, director, Reiach and Hall
David Finlay, director, Acanthus Clews Architects
Ana Moldavsky, associate, Walters & Cohen
Carol Pyrah, associate director of planning, Historic England

Shortlisted
Temperate House, Kew Gardens by Donald Insall Associates with AkzoNobel
Greenwich Millennium Village by Jestico + Whiles with StoVentec
Private residence, Kent by Waind Gohil & Potter Architects with Pipsqueak Developments

 

Ajsa 2019 doors and windows 1

Ajsa 2019 doors and windows 1

Doors

Doors

Source: Alan Williams

The David Attenborough Building, University of Cambridge, by Nicholas Hare Architects with Schueco UK

The David Attenborough Building is an iconic Brutalist building in the centre of Cambridge, designed by Arup Associates in the 1960s and recently refurbished to create a low-energy, adaptable and efficient building which preserves its architectural integrity. 

One of the building’s unique features was its ribbon curtain walling, and the new installation had to respect both the sectional size of the original curtain walling windows and the unusual castellated alternate frameless sill detail. By reversing the original fenestration pattern, the rhythm of the original has been respected but provides much greater free area to promote natural ventilation. 

Nicholas Hare Architects worked with Schueco’s technical department and subcontractor Prism Architectural to develop and refine the design and installation, which was carried out over a series of regular workshops. Initial post-occupancy assessment shows a 35 per cent reduction in operational CO2 emissions with gas and electricity use reduced by 38 and 34 per cent respectively. Air tightness has been improved by 65 per cent. 

The judges said: ‘A difficult project to achieve, which is really well done and nicely detailed. It’s an innovative solution with the integration of a non-standard glazing system in a non-standard heritage building. Maintaining the elegance of the original building is a real achievement, improved by the formalised manner of collaboration through workshops.’

Project data
Location Cambridge
Completed June 2018
Came into use June 2018 
Project cost£38 million

Judges
Neil Eaton, director, Berman Guedes Stretton Architects
Geoff Morrow, director, StructureMode
Teri Okoro, director, TOCA
Richard Partington, director, Studio Partington 

Shortlisted
Private Residence, north London, by Chris Dyson Architects with Glazing Vision
Tropical Ravine by Hall Black Douglas Architects with Topglass Contracts
Machrie Links by Hudson Architects with Glazing Vision
Hilton Garden Inn, Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, by ICA Glasgow with Senior Architectural Systems
Rehearsal Rooms by Newground Architects with Selo
The Department Store by Squire & Partners with Crittall Windows

 

Ajsa 2019 facades and cladding 1

Ajsa 2019 facades and cladding 1

Facades

Facades

Academy House by John Robertson Architects with Darwen Terracotta and Faience

‘A beautiful result,’ said one judge of the development of the tailored product solution on this project, a blue faience cladding panel. ‘This for me was about true collaboration – a real engagement with people making a product and really good specifying which should be celebrated.’

The challenge was to distinctively reclad and transform a tired 80s building, to give it new prominence as a headquarters and flagship fashion store, while drawing on and echoing the area’s rich but eclectic architectural heritage. 

In an inspired contemporary reworking of a classic technique, Darwen Terracotta and Faience, along with faience specialist Szerelmey, worked with the architects to develop the blue terracotta faience panels. These were crafted to fit the required specification and detailing through experimentation and after more than 30 different glazing mock-ups.  

The result is a façade that the judges said helped revive knowledge and skills of traditional techniques to produce terracotta cladding, showcasing a natural and distinctive product that was commended for being appropriate to London, weathering really well. ‘It takes a lot of collaboration to achieve something like this,’ said one judge.

Project data
Location London
Completed June 2018
Came into use July 2018
Project cost£16 million

Judges
Duncan Blackmore, director, Arrant Land
Christian Bocci, partner, Weston Williamson + Partners
David Illingworth, design director, AKT II
Andy McConachie, associate partner, Heatherwick Studio
Clare Murray, head of sustainability, Levitt Bernstein

Shortlisted
Elizabeth Line fit-out by Bryden Wood with Crossrail
Menai Science Park by FaulknerBrowns Architects with CDUKV&A Dundee by Kengo Kuma & Associates, PiM.studio Architects and James F Stephen Architects with Façade & Glazing Solutions UK
The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School, by Sheppard Robson with Octatube
NGS Macmillan Unit, Chesterfield Hospital by The Manser Practice with CDUK
Queen Mary, University of London: Graduate Centre by WilkinsonEyre with FastClad

 

Ajsa 2019 fitout and interiors 1

Ajsa 2019 fitout and interiors 1

Interirors

Interirors

Source: Adam Scott

Royal Academy of Music – Theatre and New Recital Hall by Ian Ritchie Architects with James Johnson & Co

The judges were united in their decision for this category, describing the project as an ‘immaculate piece of work’, thoroughly designed and comprehensively put together in every aspect. They complimented the way that the project meets the client’s brief while producing a stunning piece of architecture. ‘Design aside, it’s evident that the architect could not have done it without the timber supplier, consultants and acoustic input,’ they said.

This project has created two new performance spaces and revamped circulation for Britain’s oldest conservatoire. The project was made unusually complex by the very constrained site and the wish to keep the building in operation throughout. The challenge was to successfully integrate architectural and theatrical requirements with structural, acoustic, safety, mechanical and electrical systems. Taking inspiration from string instruments, the architect worked closely with Arup and James Johnson & Co to develop specific acoustic treatments for the walls, ceiling, balconies and soffits, building and testing large-scale prototypes. One of the project’s most stunning elements, a ‘deconstructed’ chandelier, has created an impressive light display.

Project data
Location London
Completed January 2018
Came into use January 2018
Project cost£19.9 million

Judges
Harbinder Birdi, senior partner, Hawkins\Brown
Catherine Hennessy, associate director, ACME
Will Mawson, director, MawsonKerr Architects
Chris Rankin, director, rankinfraser landscape architecture
Jennifer Sale, senior design partner, Plan A Consultants
Murray Smith, partner, Untitled Practice

Shortlisted
The Schrödinger Building by Bogle Architects with BCL Timber Projects
Maggie’s, Oldham, by dRMM Architects with Uncommon Projects
Bloomberg’s European Headquarters, London, by Foster + Partners with Acoustic Products and Topakustik NH Akustik + Design
Kyle House by GRAS (part of Groves-Raines Architects) with Dinesen
3 Finsbury Avenue by Hût with Clippings
Knauf Clerkenwell by Mailen Design with Knauf UK
Condé Nast International by MCM Architecture with Optima Contracting
White Cube Memory Palace by vPPR Architects with Creative Metalwork

 

Ajsa 2019 flooring 1

Ajsa 2019 flooring 1

Floor

Floor

Clothworkers’ Building South by Farrell & Clark with Amtico

Judges admired this well-judged and economical flooring scheme, part of a wider 2018 refurbishment of the Clothworkers’ Building South, home of Leeds University’s School of Design for more than 60 years. Working closely with Farrell & Clark, luxury flooring specialist Amtico worked to minimise wastage of tiles on site while helping the architect to incorporate its idea of using colour coding on different levels to aid wayfinding. The combination of bold hues and colours is intended to reinforce the school’s creative purpose and has reportedly delighted the client.

‘The project could have gone disastrously wrong or been very safe given that the teaching is about design, colour and textiles,’ one judge remarked. ‘But this team has taken it way beyond what you might expect and delivered a creative and innovative solution on a budget that wasn’t huge. The result is practical and hard-wearing and successfully reflects the ethos of the place.’ 

Project data
Location Leeds
Completed June 2018
Came into use June 2018
Project cost£2.53 million

Judges
Lyle Chrystie, director, Reiach and Hall
David Finlay, director, Acanthus Clews Architects
Ana Moldavsky, associate, Walters & Cohen
Carol Pyrah, associate director of planning, Historic England

Shortlisted
Hydraulic Swimming Pool by Lucas Bespoke with Cosentino and NeoGranite
Adare Manor by ReardonSmith Architects with Schlüter-Systems
The Department Store by Squire & Partners with Eley Kishimoto

 

Ajsa 2019 landscaping 1

Ajsa 2019 landscaping 1

Landscape

Landscape

North West Cambridge Development by AECOM Landscape with Aggregate Industries

The judges thought this project was a good example of specifying a decent asphalt that both works and looks good. They were impressed with the extent of testing and collaboration it took to get the material specification right for such a large scheme.

Planners were keen to avoid the use of traditional blacktop asphalt for road surfacing, preferring materials that would be in keeping with surrounding countryside. The challenge was to choose an appropriate product since many decorative asphalts currently on the market are not robust enough to meet the technical performance required. 

Aggregate Industries, Skanska, AECOM Landscape and Toppesfield recommended the use of SuperColour Exposed asphalt, which gains its colour by mechanically exposing natural tones of its mix. Prior to installation, the team carried out extensive durability testing to ensure it met safety requirements. More than a year on, it is still performing well.

Project data
Location Cambridge
Completed June 2018
Came into use September 2018
Landscaping project cost£73 million

Judges
Harbinder Birdi, senior partner, Hawkins\Brown
Catherine Hennessy, associate director, ACME
Will Mawson, director, MawsonKerr Architects
Chris Rankin, director, rankinfraser landscape architecture
Jennifer Sale, senior design partner, Plan A Consultants
Murray Smith, partner, Untitled Practice

Shortlisted
Cambridge University Botanical Gardens by Chadwick Dryer Clarke with Accsys Group and Gripsure
Culzean Castle entrance by Purcell with Lothian Steel and Scott Associates

 

Ajsa 2019 offsite fabrication 1

Ajsa 2019 offsite fabrication 1

Offsite

Offsite

Mapleton Crescent by Metropolitan Workshop with Donban Contracting UK

‘Normally you can spot a volumetric building. Not here,’ said our judges about Mapleton Crescent in Wandsworth town centre, south-west London – the tallest private sale offsite volumetric modular residential tower in Europe. 

The tower was designed for Pocket Living, and developed by Donban Contracting and Vision Modular Systems, with a brief to provide 63 affordable one-bedroom/one-person homes, as well as two and three-bedroom private sale homes and high-quality shared internal communal spaces and external roof gardens. 

The tight triangular site was heavily constrained and the design team pursued offsite construction as a possible solution to higher-than-anticipated tender returns. Because the building was designed and tendered as a traditional concrete frame, the subsequent redesign to suit offsite steel frame modules required a clever concrete core design, by Donban’s consultant Barrett Mahony, to add mass to the top of the building and additional thickness to the stair core area. 

Examples of the project’s excellent collaboration included regular factory visits by client and architect, prototyping of complicated areas such as utility cupboards to improve upon design aspects, and workshops to ensure the position of structural steel posts in modules and heights of ceiling ladder trusses. 

The outcome was a well-executed building completed on time and on budget with very little waste of materials. ‘The change in tack before they went on site was pivotal,’ our judges said. ‘Credit to the volumetric supplier that their system was flexible, and credit to the architecture that the building was not just designed as a stack of boxes. It has efficiency and sense.’

Project data
Location London 
Completed July 2018
Came into use July 2018
Project cost£23.2 million

Judges
Neil Eaton, director, Berman Guedes Stretton Architects
Geoff Morrow, director, StructureMode
Teri Okoro, director, TOCA
Richard Partington, director, Studio Partington

Shortlisted
Maggie’s Oldham by dRMM Architects with ZÜBLIN Timber
Heritage Railing, Marple Aqueduct by Knight Architects with Bisca
R7 by Morris+Company (formerly Duggan Morris Architects) with Kier Construction
Three Rivers Academy, Surrey, by Scott Brownrigg with Innovare Systems

 

Ajsa 2019 roofing and drainage 1

Ajsa 2019 roofing and drainage 1

Roofing

Roofing

Fitzwilliam College Central Building Lantern Refurbishment by Cullinan Studio with Sika Sarnafil and Roofing Contractors Cambridge

In a time where there is a real interest in Brutalism, the judges felt there was something quite special about the way this unique building was being celebrated and protected beautifully here. They recognised the difficulties in conserving concrete – and felt this was a great example of it being successfully done.

The highlight of Lasdun’s original 1963 building is the stunning precast concrete scalloped lantern. The challenge here was to complete a light touch refurbishment – including a new roof build-up with additional insulation, replacement ventilators, lightning conductor system and the concrete shells being stripped back and retreated, with an overall waterproofing applied – without visually altering the original design. Cullinan Studio, the college, Roofing Contractors Cambridge (RCC) and Sika Sarnafil worked closely together before reaching the approach to waterproof the structure without adding an extra architectural element. The success of this project was developing a unique approach to refresh an existing structure, completing the project early and on budget, while the college remained operational throughout.

Project data
Location Cambridge
Completed October 2017
Came into use October 2017
Project cost Confidential

Judges
Harbinder Birdi, senior partner, Hawkins\Brown
Catherine Hennessy, associate director, ACME
Will Mawson, director, MawsonKerr Architects
Chris Rankin, director, rankinfraser landscape architecture
Jennifer Sale, senior design partner, Plan A Consultants
Murray Smith, partner, Untitled Practice

Shortlisted
Arts & Crafts House, Grevel Lane, by Design Storey with Wienerberger
A private residence, Pentraeth, by Dobson Owen with Aqualevel by Lateral Design Studio
King’s College Music School by Hopkins Architects with Tudor Roof Tile Co

 

Ajsa 2019 stairs and lifts 1

Ajsa 2019 stairs and lifts 1

Stairs

Stairs

A Restorative Rural Retreat for Sartfell by Foster Lomas with West Country Blacksmiths and John Hesp

Our judges were fulsome in their praise of this project. ‘It’s fantastic – a seamless collaborative effort between architect, engineer and craftspeople,’ they said.

Sartfell Retreat on the Isle of Man plays a key role in the local outreach educational policy with the Manx Wildlife Trust. Inside, the triple-height staircase and library provide a knowledge centre which sees the stair binding the building together. 

The bespoke stair and library were designed as a kit and fabricated off site in west Somerset. The architects worked with John Hesp, an experienced boat-builder and engineer, who assisted in balancing the weight and in achieving the staircase’s strength and aesthetics. The assembly was fabricated, finished and installed by West Country Blacksmiths with whom Foster Lomas developed and detailed the design. 

A full-size mock-up of part of the staircase included treads, risers, strings, handrails and balustrading. Regular meetings, held to co-ordinate and complete the design process, concluded with a full pre-assembly test. 

Our judges continued: ‘They clearly showed where the collaboration had taken it, and it just got cleverer and cleverer. You could see that refinement going on, and that story continues to inspire others. They’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to perfect it, without an extraordinary budget. Everything is explicit; you can see how it works. It makes you smile.’

Project data
Location Kirk Michael, Isle of Man
Completed August 2018
Came into use August 2018
Project cost£68,000

Judges
Neil Eaton, director, Berman Guedes Stretton Architects
Geoff Morrow, director, StructureMode
Teri Okoro, director, TOCA
Richard Partington, director, Studio Partington

Shortlisted
De Beauvoir House by Cousins & Cousins Architects with Creighton & Son
Bloomberg European Headquarters, London by Foster + Partners with KONE
St John’s Orchard by John Smart Architects with WD Joinery
Aynhoe House by Paul Archer Design with Cake Industries
Askham Road by Waind Gohil + Potter Architects with TinTab

 

Ajsa 2019 technology 1

Ajsa 2019 technology 1

Tech

Tech

Welham Hall by Stone + Associates  with Pure Renewables

This winning entry is for the design of a water-source heat pump that ensures long-term environmental sustainability in a refurb. One judge praised it as ‘a really successful solution which isn’t disruptive and comes out with a great result’. Another commented that ‘for the scale of its effect, I’m amazed at the compactness of the product’.

The challenge was to effectively and sensitively integrate heat pump technology into the refurbishment and extension of a historic house. The aim was to create a sustainable long-term heating and hot water system with low to zero maintenance so as not to rely on fossil fuels or oil for heating.

Architect Stone + Associates worked closely with Pure Renewables, which conducted a feasibility study that resulted in the design of an appropriate Stiebel Eltron ground source heat pump. The result is a near-invisible system developed using water from an existing lake and so avoiding the disruption of 2.2km of trenches dug for a ground loop system. This has proved highly efficient, with no need for the emergency oil boiler to come on once last winter. As one judge commented: ‘That the Environment Agency saw no major problems was innovation enough!’

Project data
Location Welham Hall, Welham, Malton
Completed May 2018
Came into use November 2017
Project cost £100,000

Judges
Duncan Blackmore, director, Arrant Land
Christian Bocci, partner, Weston Williamson + Partners
David Illingworth, design director, AKT II
Andy McConachie, associate partner, Heatherwick Studio
Clare Murray, head of sustainability, Levitt Bernstein

Shortlisted
Shell Southbank Centre by Bryden Wood with McMullen Façades and ExpLORe Manufacturing
University of Kent, Templeman Library Extension and Refurbishment by Penoyre & Prasad with Graphisoft UK
Primark Guru by Prosper with Elecosoft IconSystem