The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed the winners of its 2015 National Awards. While last year was dominated by massive projects like the Shard and the Library of Birmingham, this year is marked by an increase in housing projects, which make up a quarter of the overall winners.
The structure of the awards has been tinkered with this year, and RIBA has dropped the European component to focus purely on UK-based projects. This results in 37 winners from around the UK (down from last year's total of 56 from the UK and EU), from which one winner will be chosen to receive the Stirling Prize on October 15. London fares best, with a full 14 winners located in the capital, but Scotland is well represented too, with five winners, and it's arguably a more geographically balanced selection than one might expect.
As already mentioned, housing projects had a particularly strong showing at this year's awards. Somerset's Dundon Passivhaus, by Prewett Bizley Architects, is a standout design, and was created by the architect for himself and his family.
The home is situated at – and part-built into – the lowest point of a wooded hill. As its name suggests, it meets the exacting Passivhaus energy standard, which means it is extremely well insulated and almost air-tight, and therefore very efficient to heat and cool. The house also boasts a large rainwater harvesting tank, log burners that provide hot water and heating, and a solar hot water heater on the roof. Dundon Passivhaus was completed in 2013 at a cost of £500,000 (US$792,918).
Niall McLaughlin Architects makes a deserving appearance on the winner's list with its Fishing Hut. Based on a Hampshire lake, the hut's understated use of wood brings to mind the same firm's beautiful Bishop Edward King Chapel (which made the 2013 Stirling Prize shortlist).
Architecture 00 has delighted critics with its transformation of a former shoe polish factory into a building for ethical organizations. The original brief called for a simple refurb, but Architecture 00 also added an extra concrete building, and the flexible and open interior layout sees concrete, wood and glass used to great effect. The building was completed last year and cost £5 million (roughly $7.9 million).
The Foundry has already snagged RIBA's London Building of the Year and London Regional award, and we wouldn't be at all surprised if it was the overall winner come October.
"The UK is blighted by poor-quality new housing and dilapidated school buildings, so I am delighted that the notable trends amongst this year’s RIBA National Award-winners are the volume of inspiring new housing and education projects," says RIBA President Stephen Hodder. "I am particularly pleased to award an unprecedented number of housing developments. The innovative spirit of these projects sets them apart from the ubiquitous, uninspiring housing developments being built all over the country. Our award winners show it is possible to build exceptional new housing developments that are profitable, sustainable and desirable places to live."
Check out the gallery for a selection of the winners, and we'll be back later this year to report on the overall Stirling Prize winner.