The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the first shortlist for the newly-established reinvention award, featuring four projects from across the United Kingdom whose work has responded to the need for broad adaptation of reuse and retrofitting schemes in the industry that has become an increasingly popular mandate in recent years.
RIBA’s President Simon Allford said he hopes the award could serve as a “catalyst” for pragmatic future change in the profession, adding that its establishment will help practitioners “consider how we can reinvent existing buildings to work even better when they accommodate new uses.”
“Looking ahead to the low carbon future, it is vital we always consider how we can reinvent existing buildings to work even better when they accommodate new uses. The careful husbandry of existing resources - including buildings - has a long and noble, if recently forgotten, architectural history that we are relearning - and fast,” he added. “These remarkable projects all demonstrate that the architecture of reinvention requires immense talent, vision, and creativity.”
Eligible projects include the reuse of any existing building, demonstrating the structural improvements enacted, and outlining how the effort incorporated at least one of the outcomes in RIBA’s Sustainable Outcomes Guide. The timing of the announcement comes as many UK architects and planners begin to realize the benefits of such projects, and RIBA says finally that the Reinvention Award will "[shine] a light on 'retrofitting', increasing the longevity and energy efficiency of existing buildings, and reducing the need for demolition and new construction."
Further details on each project can be found below.
Museum of the Home by Wright & Wright Architects (London)
Project description/jury comments: "The museum’s Grade I-listed alms house buildings are set within a historic context of public gardens, creating an unexpected green oasis in Hackney. The architects have used the rich history of the site to inform the renovation of the early 18th century buildings, providing new extensions to create an 80% increase in exhibition space for the museum’s collections and 50% more public space. Visitors are beckoned towards the new entrance by bold welcoming signage opposite Hoxton rail station."
Houlton School by van Heyningen and Haward Architects (West Midlands)
Project description/jury comments: "Houlton School is a state secondary school that will form part of an emerging residential district on the site of the former Rugby Radio Station. The scheme sensitively reimagines the iconic Grade II-listed transmitter building, C Station, and creates three new state-of-the-art school blocks arranged around a central courtyard."
University of Wolverhampton School of Architecture and the Built Environment by Associated Architects with Rodney Melville and Partners (West Midlands)
Project description/jury comments: "The Mitchells & Butlers Brewery was once a major employer in the city of Wolverhampton. Following its closure in 1991 and two major fires, the brewery fell into disrepair, becoming a symbol of industrial decline on the edge of the Black Country. In 2015, the building was purchased by Wolverhampton University, who had the vision, courage and commitment to transform this historic relic into a civic building of exemplary architectural design. That vision was realised by Associated Architects, who have created a building that reflects the site's rich heritage whilst boldly pointing towards its future as a catalyst for further brownfield regeneration in the area."
Great Things Lie Ahead, 2020, Holborn House by 6a architects x Caragh Thuring (London)
Project description/jury comments: "Great Things Lie Ahead is the refurbishment and extension of a community gym in Holborn, London, to provide a new community building for the Holborn Community Association. 6a Architects have stripped the old basement back to its concrete structure and opened it to the sky, with a new roof with lantern rooflights over a multipurpose hall, and a two-storey street-facing extension providing the entrance and function spaces. The result is a more accessible and more visible building that has allowed the community association to expand the range of cultural, social, and sporting activities they can offer."
The inaugural winner of the 2023 Reinvention Award will be announced at the Stirling Prize ceremony Thursday, October 19th, at the historic Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
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