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Hawkins\Brown’s Here East named AJ100 Building of the Year

Head judge Rob Wilson explains why the ‘bold, brave and transformational’ Here East scooped top prize at the 2018 AJ100 Awards

This huge building, industrial in scale, is the complete repurposing by Hawkins\Brown of the 51,000m2 International Broadcast Centre (IBC), originally designed by Allies and Morrison for the London 2012 Olympics. It has been reworked as a centre of innovation for multiple occupiers, focused on digital technologies and making, as well as for business, media, data and education.

Despite being a retrofit project, Here East was the one building on the shortlist to elicit the comment ‘this is the future of architecture’ during judging. It was commended for the way it embodies and combines deep retrofit and offers high flexibility while contributing to wider urban regeneration.  

Here East was the one building on the shortlist to elicit the comment ‘this is the future of architecture’ during judging

The original Allies and Morrison-designed structural core, picked out in orange, cleverly lifts and punctuates the whole building with its cheeky echo of High-Tech, transforming it from being just a giant shed, and lending accent to the complete recladding by Hawkins\Brown. This reworks what had previously been a necessarily relatively windowless building into a welcoming permeable shell – ‘turning an introverted box into an extrovert structure’ as one judge described it – which also has shared public space outside. 

Internally, Hawkins\Brown’s robust fit-out of a portion of the building for University College London (UCL) is just the first of many to come at Here East, including a Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed collections centre for the Victoria and Albert Museum. The whole feels like it could nicely develop into a literal architectural palimpsest of different practices’ work, underlining how this is refreshingly far removed from signature architecture or gratuitous form-making.

The range of planned occupiers, spaces and uses from studio maker-spaces to national archives underlines how flexibility here isn’t just an aesthetic; for once bearing comparison with Cedric Price’s legendary Fun Palace. This is long-life, loose fit in action.

Sited in Stratford, it provides a model for the regeneration of a post-industrial landscape that’s increasingly common. It’s not just relevant to the future of architecture but to the city and society as a whole, offering a very powerful exemplar of positive adaption and urban future-proofing. Calling it ‘fresh and visionary’, one judge said: ‘This is a really innovative, absolutely regenerative project’; while another called it ‘a highly intelligent reuse and reinvention of an existing building, sending out a powerful message about doing more with less.’

To see more pictures and drawings, read the AJ building study of Here East

Shortlisted

  • White Collar Factory, London Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
  • Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
  • Bloomberg European Headquarters, London Foster + Partners
  • The Hawkhead Centre, Paisley Page\Park Architects
  • Nucleus, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Caithness Archive, Wick Reiach and Hall Architects
  • London Business School, The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Sheppard Robson
  • Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerp, Belgium SimpsonHaugh and Partners
  • KAPSARC, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Zaha Hadid Architects

Judges

  • Hiro Aso, head of transport and infrastructure, Gensler
  • Marion Baeli, partner, PDP London
  • Jude Barber, director, Collective Architecture
  • Stephen Bates, senior partner, Sergison Bates Architects
  • Suzanne Ewing, architect and senior lecturer, University of Edinburgh
  • Joseph Giovannini, architecture critic and head of Giovannini Associates
  • Katharine Heron, professor of architecture, University of Westminster
  • Anna Liu, director, Tonkin Liu
  • Tim Makower, principal, Makower Architects
  • Jay Merrick, architecture critic
  • Lucy Mori, consultant, KL Mori
  • Jon Astbury, assistant architecture editor, The Architects’ Journal
  • Rob Wilson, architecture editor, The Architects’ Journal

 

AJ100 Building of the Year sponsored by

Graphisoft

 

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