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Celebrating the winners of the AJ Architecture Awards

Emily Booth
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A thorough round of jury visits underpins our awards, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, writes Emily Booth 

Shortlisted projects: 120. Judges: 59. Building visits: 259. When we were planning the new AJ Architecture Awards, which celebrate and reward design excellence in UK architecture, we knew the jury visits would be important. We knew we had to experience at first hand the most innovative UK architecture. We knew it would be a big organisational task – getting clients, architects and judges together at the same time and in the same place was never going to be easy.

But perhaps we didn’t know how hugely rewarding the process would be. Our enthusiastic, dedicated and skilled judges have travelled the length and breadth of the UK to see these exciting projects in person. They have met with talented architects and inspiring clients, and have seen for themselves the real impact and intrinsic value of the submitted designs.

The building visits were detailed tours, providing an opportunity to meet the occupants, ask questions, look at materials and get a feel for environment and atmosphere. Each of our judges came back with stories of a project that had really delighted. Some buildings didn’t quite live up to their promise. But all the shortlisted entries have something that makes them stand out.

Here was a building that unashamedly prioritised air, light and space over the building envelope. On that cold, dark day, the place sang

For me, a journey to Carlisle to visit the Harraby Community Centre made a real impression. As the Lake District landscape loomed through the train window, and the sky glowered, I wondered what the building would have in store. I was met by a head teacher and architect who had worked tirelessly to wring every drop of value out of a squeezed budget. Their ambition for the community – from the children through to the elderly users – was immense. Here was a building that unashamedly prioritised air, light and space over the building envelope. The plan was strong and the spaces were positive, calming and filled with light. The children were learning, growing and flourishing. On that cold, dark day, the place sang.

This is what strong architecture can do: inspire, encourage and effect real change. So we are delighted to celebrate the 23 winners of the inaugural AJ Architecture Awards. We are proud to highlight excellence in UK design. Thank you to our wonderful judges. Thank you to our supportive sponsors. And thank you – the UK architectural community – for sharing with us your creativity, commitment and vision.

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