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Köbberling & Kaltwasser wins AJ Small Projects award

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German practice Köbberling & Kaltwasser has won this year’s AJ Small Projects prize for its Jellyfish Theatre project in London

Built for just £17,000, the 120-seat temporary venue was described by competition judges as the ‘most inventive’ and ‘very well received and exciting.’

Commissioned by The Red Room in partnership with the Architecture Foundation, the wooden structure featured in the 2010 London Festival of Architecture and was built by a team of 80 volunteers using only found materials. The project was also awarded the AJ Small Projects sustainability prize.

Competition Judge Will Alsop said: ‘It’s the most inventive project and was done with a certain spirit and enthusiasm.

‘The decision not to cut up the found materials was a simple choice but was well received, worked well and was quite exciting.’

Martin Kaltwasser of the studio accepted the £1,500 prize - sponsored by Marley Eternit - at an awards ceremony in the Building Centre last night (9 February).

He dedicated the accolade to the volunteer army which helped realise the design, promising that the prize money would go to offering the workers a free trip to visit Köbberling & Kaltwasser’s Berlin studio.

‘Two thirds of the team were actually unemployed architects,’ said Kaltwasser. ‘This is really a product of the high-volunteerism you have in the UK, which you would never have in Europe.’

The second place prize was awarded to Lincoln Miles Architecture for its House in the Trees project on the Isle of Wight.

The £219,080 private home and workspace project was singled out for its ‘brilliant use of materials’ and artist-designed corner-piece.

John Boxall of Jackson Coles, who this year judged the competition for his fourth time, said: ‘The project was a labour of love between an architectural technician and an artist and it seems to show.’

Lincoln Miles of the studio accepted a £750 prize and said: ‘I didn’t expect to win but I’m really happy, and was very happy just to be shortlisted.’

Artist Lisa Traxler added: ‘The whole project was a collaboration and to have that noted was lovely.’

A highly commended award was also given to Moving Architecture for its Greyfriars Surgery project in Hereford.

The £175,000 extension to a Grade II-listed GP’s surgery was described by judges as an excellent example of carrying the spirit of architecture-school into a real-world project.

Competition judge Paul Reed - sales and marketing director at Marley Eternit - said: ‘We liked the ancient city wall setting and back-story to the project with the same practice delivering a number of extensions over time.

‘Obviously the story [Moving Architecture] has created here is quite energetic.’

Ed Frith, project architect, said: ‘I really liked the judges’ comments about the project’s energy and vitality because the project was completed on a very old building with a history of military conflict but now it is being used for healing.’

Roughly 200 practices submitted entries to the competition which recognises exceptional projects with a contract value of £250,000 or less.

Images of all 24 shortlisted projects are available to view online.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I attended last night's presentation and met & conversed with quite a number of young, energetic, articulate architects representing what I firmly believe are the next generation of cutting-edge practices.
    It was, therefore, both alarming & disappointing to see such a ill-considered, temporary structure gaining this financially miniscule but noteworthy prize. Particularly as this project was completely surrounded by thoughtful, engaging well-executed work.

    Royston Kent MSc

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