The RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize, set up to reward the best examples of projects that have a construction budget of less than £1 million, is intended to encourage fresh talent working with smaller budgets.
The 2011 shortlist is as follows:
Brown's Dental Practice by David Sheppard Architects: This is a feast for the senses. From the overt tactility of the rough-hewn stone walling to the scent and smooth warmth of the birch plywood that lines the interior spaces. The quality of light in the treatment rooms is particularly poetic, with frameless glass rooflights capturing dappled light as it falls through the trees. The architect has worked hard to balance the patients' requirement for privacy with the practitioners' need for an airy light-filled workspace. The narrow slots between the planks of cedar cladding are glazed, giving patients glimpses of the outdoor world. The delight in material and texture is a welcome contrast to the functionality and lack of care so often associated with healthcare buildings.
Hoxton House by David Mikhail Architects: Referencing the traditional Welsh long house form, the building cantilevers out over the site, cleverly avoiding the planning constraint on building within seven meters of the nearby river. The name of the house means 'hovering house'. The design uses a tall, striking and expressive nine metre tall dry-stone wall as the knuckle between the rectangular form of the main house and the bedroom wing, which is buried into the hillside under a green sedum roof. The best views are from the cantilevered living room where you feel that you are amongst the trees. The buried wing of the house has generous full-height glazing and three rooflights permitting daylight to permeate into the deeper parts. These are intriguingly detailed as if they were wooden cattle toughs in a field.
Ty Hedfan by Featherston Young: Britain has an enormous stock of traditional terraced houses, which increasingly struggle to meet the needs of contemporary living - clearly a significant challenge. This typical four-storey London terraced house is a case in point, characterised by multiple levels and cramped dark rooms set around a winding staircase. The clue to realising the full potential of this house came in the small rear yard. The lower-ground and ground floors have been unified by the addition of a double-height extension, just one-metre deep. This has allowed the ground floor to be pulled away from the existing rear wall, uniting the living spaces on both floors with a modest double-height volume. This project achieves a delightful sense of space and light that is hard to believe possible in a house of this type.
The White House by WT Architecture. The architects and client sought to create a contemporary family home incorporating the listed shell of a small eighteenth century ruined house on site. The partial re-use of this existing house delineates this new development which is composed of two accommodation blocks connected by a glazed living-dining space. While the ruin has been consolidated and parts are incorporated within the new building, the separation between historic and contemporary is overt. A new timber structure perches itself on a substantial dry stone wall, built on old enclosure lines and re-using stone from the site, allowing a light weight break with the local vernacular while being grounded in its robust landscape and tradition. The house thus sits comfortably within this extraordinarily beautiful landscape.
Marshland Discovery by Peter Beard_Landroom. Three rusty old sea containers dumped on a marsh would not normally be perceived as having any aesthetic or practical value. Still less might they be thought capable of forming a place for exploration and delight. But the inherent rawness of these corten containers allows them to retain their industrial identity even as they are re-invented as places for observation and learning. Minor modifications have been cleverly inserted to maintain an ambiguity of meaning that is entirely appropriate to the activity and setting. This project is not concerned with the traditional architectural skills of managing form and materials, rather it is about revaluing things that on the surface no longer seem to have any use. And encouraging others to do likewise.
St Patrick's School Music and Library room by Coffey Architects. 'Less is More' would seem to sum up this tiny yet delightful and ingenious school extension providing a library, music room and store room. The building has a simplicity that comes from a straightforward plan and the prevailing expression of just two self-finish materials. The space is lined on three sides by bookshelves at ground level and the storage display of musical instruments on the first floor mezzanine. The central volume created by this arrangement is open and flexible to allow for both musical practise/performance and also as a group reading area - in fact whatever the school requires. However, this simple arrangement is literally given a third dimension by the openable glass wall which, with a freestanding external canopy, creates an informal proscenium for play. The Stephen Lawrence Prize is judged by architect Marco Goldschmied and Doreen Lawrence OBE, mother of the teenager who was setting out on the road to becoming an architect when he was murdered in 1993.
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