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AJ Architecture Awards judges hold the line for great design

Emily Booth
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The judges for this year’s AJ Architecture Awards have an understanding of and passion for good architecture, writes Emily Booth

Belvue jimstephenson

Belvue jimstephenson

Woodland Classrooms, Belvue School, by Studio Weave

There’s something special about chairing a judging panel. The lively (often robust) discussion that takes place about the merits of each shortlisted project crystallises thinking and serves as an opportunity to look comprehensively at recently completed buildings. In a judging discussion, there is time and space for rich, frank debate, which can be difficult to find in the usual noise of a working day.

Most importantly, our judges have experienced the buildings for themselves

This is the second year of the AJ Architecture Awards, which celebrate design excellence in UK architecture, and our expert judges threw themselves into the substantial task of visiting the shortlisted buildings with enthusiasm and commitment. They’ve talked with architects, met with clients, studied plans, summaries and performance data – and, most importantly, they have experienced the buildings for themselves. Interestingly, they often describe the atmosphere of spaces and places in the judging room: they enthuse about ‘happy schools’, and they imagine themselves working and living in the wonderful range of buildings we celebrate in this special issue of the AJ.

Our judges’ understanding of and passion for good architecture means they can sometimes, quite rightly, be tough. They expect excellence, and for any stated ambition to match the reality of the built project. But they also understand the pressures of tight budgets and timescales – and what it is realistic to expect, given those budgets. They appreciate the pressures of day-to-day architectural life. They ‘get’ it.

The AJ Architecture Awards judges hold the line for great design. Our wholehearted thanks to them, to our sponsors and supporters, and to you, the UK architectural community, for sharing your exceptional work with us.

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