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Fledgling practice wins £20,000 social housing design prize

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Emerging practice Jas Bhalla Architects has won Clarion Housing Group’s £20,000 annual affordable housing design prize

The two-year-old London studio, founded by former KPF and Adjaye Associates employee Jas Bhalla in November 2017, was chosen from a six-strong shortlist which included Sarah Wigglesworth Architects to win the William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design.

The practice’s winning proposal is for a planning policy grounded in ‘place-based design’ guidance, encouraging the transformation of nine main roads in outer London into dense, urban streets.

It will use the £20,000 prize to identify underused brownfield land for affordable housing and to work with key city planning stakeholders to deliver a shift in policy and approach.

Bhalla said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the William Sutton Prize and it’s really special to see that such a big organisation is making space and time to talk about alternative ideas and look at ways of improving people’s lives.

‘Winning will not only give us access to a lot of insight and support from Clarion, but the profile and recognition of the prize will also help open doors to conversations with councils and the GLA.’

An entry by Jericho Road Solutions was, meanwhile, highly commended. This proposed creating a new ‘urban commons’ on Hastings Common, featuring spaces, organisations and people with shared values to inspire others. The team will receive £5,000 to help develop the concept further.

The competition, now in its second year, asked for ‘groundbreaking’ proposals that could make a positive social impact on an existing community.

The ideas contest is one of two £20,000 awards run by the group, the other being the William Sutton Prize for Social Innovation, for which seven teams are shortlisted. Both are named after Victorian entrepreneur William Sutton, who bequeathed his fortune to providing public housing.

Clarion’s chief executive Clare Miller said: ‘The need for good quality social housing is as urgent today as it was in the time of William Sutton, so I’m delighted that we’ll be working with Jas Bhalla Architects and Jericho Road Solutions to explore two innovative approaches to the design and delivery of affordable homes.

‘With more than 100 applications received for the William Sutton Prize over the summer, it was hard to choose our winners, but I’m sure they will go on to make a huge difference within their local communities and beyond.’

Clarion Housing Group formed three years ago following a merger of Circle Housing Group and Affinity Sutton, and is the UK’s largest housing association, managing 125,000 homes across 170 local authorities.

Last year’s inaugural award was won by the all-women VeloCity team, which included Annalie Riches of Stirling Prize-winning practice Mikhail Riches.

This year’s judges included Miller, Academy of Urbanism director Biljana Savic, Social Enterprise UK chief executive Peter Holbrook, and Peter Fortune, Clarion Housing Association Board member and deputy leader of the London Borough of Bromley. 

Shortlist: The William Sutton Prize for Placemaking and Affordable Housing Design

Intergenerational Living in Ebbsfleet
Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

Developing the housing element of Sarah Wigglesworth Architect’s vision for intergenerational living into a tangible design proposal and advocating for its importance to those who shape our social care system and built environment.

eBrik: The Resident’s Hub

An innovative monitoring and communications system, providing transparency and facilitating effective communication between residents and stakeholders involved in the construction process.

Many More Parts than M! Re-thinking disability, access and inclusion beyond the building regulations
The DisOrdinary Architecture Project

Prototyping an alternative to the current (Part M) technical and legal guidance on access and inclusion, supporting developers, designers and managers to create truly accessible and beautiful spaces.

Developing the Hastings Common
Jericho Road Solutions

Creating a genuine urban commons through an ecosystem of buildings and spaces, organisations and people held together with shared values to inspire others throughout the country.

Forest Community Land Trust Community Hub: The Depot
Forest CLT

A vision for a new community hub to be developed as part of the Forest Community Land Trust scheme providing facilities for a proposed community-led housing development.

Radial Routes: transforming thoroughfares into boulevards [WINNER]
Jas Bhalla Architects

A proposal for a city-wide planning policy that encourages the transformation of nine underutilised main roads in Outer London into dense, urban streets through place-based design guidance. 

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