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Ryder wins accessible hotels ideas contest

Allgo room render
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Ryder Architecture has won the £20,000 top prize in a contest seeking ideas to improve the quality of hotel experience for disabled people

Working with accessible bathroom manufacturer Motionspot, the Newcastle-based practice was named the winner of the Bespoke Access Awards competition earlier this month.

The duo’s triumphant ‘AllGo’ scheme, featuring a universal approach to hotel room design ensuring all spaces are functional, flexible, accessible and well-designed, received the inaugural Celia Thomas Prize, worth £20,000, at a ceremony in the Palace of Westminster.

Backed by the RIBA and Bespoke Hotels, the Bespoke Access Awards sought ‘imaginative, innovative and potentially realisable’ proposals to improve hotel access for disabled people, including those with learning difficulties.

Concepts which challenge existing ‘joyless, poorly-designed and over-medicalised’ preconceptions of disability-friendly hotel facilities were encouraged.

The overall winner received the £20,000 Celia Thomas Prize. Named after peer and disability rights campaigner Celia Thomas, who has limb girdle muscular dystrophy, the prize is thought to be the UK’s largest for a design concept.

Judges included Thomas, Paralympic wheelchair champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Bespoke Hotels chairman Robin Sheppard – who previously suffered from Guillain Barre Syndrome – and wheelchair user Alan Stanton of 2012 Stirling Prize-winner Stanton Williams.

Commenting on the winning scheme, Thomas said: ‘The AllGo system immediately caught our collective eye as a unique approach to disabled facilities in hotels. The whole design was exactly the type of fresh perspective we were hoping to inspire when we launched the competition, and we were not disappointed.’

RIBA president Jane Duncan added: ‘We always hoped the competition would encourage designers to move away from the overly medicalised, heavy-handed approach many businesses have taken when addressing accessibility in the past.

‘Throughout the process, we were hugely impressed with both the attitude and creativity of the entrants, who brought precisely the kind of positivity and fresh outlook we were hoping for.’

Sheppard said: ‘We were delighted both with the quality of entries and diversity of their origin. Our aim was always to ignite the creativity of designers and architects around the world, and we were hugely impressed by both the diversity of submissions and the gusto with which they embraced the challenges set.’

An additional £10,000 prize fund will also be shared between the winners of other categories, including PH Partnership Architects, Rawstudio, Paul Cahillane Studio and Pentan Architects of Cardiff.

RIBA accessible design award 2016 Motionspot & Ryder Architecture

Bespoke Access Awards winners

  • Motionspot & Ryder Architecture, London (Winners of the Celia Thomas Prize)
  • PH Partnership Architects, Co. Durham (Winner of the Product Design Category)
  • Rawstudio, London (Commended in the Product Design Category)
  • Paul Cahillane Studio, London (Winner of the Service Design Category)
  • Pentan Architects, Cardiff (Commended in the Service Design Category)
  • Sepia Design Consultants, Hong Kong (Commended)


  • Robin Sheppard, chairman, Bespoke Hotels Group
  • Celia, Baroness Thomas of Winchester, House of Lords
  • Alan Stanton OBE, Stanton Williams
  • Tanni, Baroness Grey-Thompson, Paralympic Gold Medalist, House of Lords
  • Rory Coonan, RIBA honorary fellow, director of architecture at the Arts Council of Great Britain (1992-97)
  • David Day, senior designer, Seymour Powell
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