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Future Cities Forum Winter Awards 2023 judges comments

Image: Battersea Power Station public realm by LDA Design - winner in our public realm/gardens category

Future Cities Forum is releasing some highlights of the comments from our all-female panel of judges at our Winter Awards 2023. There were eight categories in total and our judges were:

Alexandra Anderson, Partner, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP (‘RPC’)

Amy Hockley, Head of Innovation Leasing, British Land PLC

Anna Shapiro, Partner, Sheppard Robson

Carey Robinson, Head of Learning and Participation, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Ellie Evans, Managing Partner, Volterra Partners

Fay Cannings, Senior Inward Investment Manager, London Borough of Waltham Forest

Jessie Turnbull, Senior Associate, MICA Architects

Leanna Boxhill, Senior Associate, RIBA Conservation Architect, Wright & Wright

Samantha Campbell, Director of Planning, Liverpool City Council

Tiffany Cheung, Architectural Assistant, Pilbrow & Partners

Yolande Barnes (Professor), The Bartlett Real Estate Institute - University College London

Above: harbour view of the International African American Museum, Charleston (Pei Cobb Freed)


Cultural cities – international

International African American Museum, Charleston - winner

Museum of Art and Photography, Bengalaru - runner up

Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon – repaired and re-opened after extensive bomb damage - runner up

The judging centred on whether museums were opening their doors to the community sufficiently, the use of materials in their construction and the context in which they were built. Highlights of comments were as follows:

Anna Shapiro of Sheppard Robson commented that she thought the International African Amercian Museum is exceptional in terms of architecture and mission, with the place-making around it very moving. She felt there is a great alignment of community and education institution, integrating culture into the community. Tiffany Cheung, Pilbrow & Partners commended the rich story telling in the materiality of the museum with the tile tribute, while Alex Anderson felt that the maintained frontage of where the slaves landed, sent a powerful message and a focal point for this part of American history.

Leanna Boxhill from Wright & Wright Architects highlighted the importance of the museum set above the hallowed ground where the slaves disembarked. Ellie Evans, Volterra, feels that museums are often expensive and difficult to access so enjoyed the museum's openess and accent on community. Carey Robinson, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, said she often feels that museums are grand edifices that prevent access and so the museum is particularly by contrast good at welcoming visitors in with its appealing vista.

Amy Hockley, British Land, feels that the re-use of buildings is important so admired the restoration of the Sursock Museum while Fay Cannings, London Borough of Waltham Forest, valued the social value angle of the Sursock and the connectedness of the place at the International African American Museum.

Above: CGI of Augustine Hill master-plan project, Galway City (BDP)


Master planning, regeneration & mixed-use

Galway masterplan (BDP) - winner

Waterloo Master-plan (Grimshaw for Network Rail and Lambeth Council) - runner up

Silvertown Quays masterplan (Pollard Thomas Edwards for Silvertown Partnership / Lendlease) - runner up

Alexandra was impressed with the level of new accomodation and approach to net zero at Silvertown and at Galway, the re-use of the railway arches, the way the masterplan draws in the community and the attention to biodiversity. Leanna felt the Galway masterplan was very comprehensive showing real intentions for positive regeneration and also liked the activation of the area at Silvertown. Tiffany said that when industrial buildings are re-used they are often successful, so has high hopes for the flour mill at Silvertown and was keen on the measures for cyclists and pedestrians at Galway.

Anna was supportive of the Waterloo masterplan explaining that from her own experience it can be a big challenge to stitch together the large and small as with the very large station and small historic streets around. As a place 'it does it for me' she said and went on to talk about the integrated strategy that is part of the masterplan, connecting up the different areas of culture and science.

Jessie felt that the most transformative of the three masterplans is Silvertown with a huge amount of affordable housing, while the Galway proposals hit a lot of place-based and childcare needs. Fay was also keen on the Silvertown masterplan from her experience of working in the eastern side of London, stating that Silvertown really does need to be unlocked and the marrying up of old and new was essential.

Above: School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool (Sheppard Robson)


Science Cities – healthcare and science campuses

Paterson Cancer Research Centre Manchester (BDP for the Christie, Manchester) - runner up

Cancer research powerhouse ‘rebuilt after a devastating fire.’

Cambridge Technology Park (Scott Brownrigg for BioMed Realty) - runner up

Featuring ‘outdoor collaborative workspace’

Merlin Lab Cambridge (HOK) - runner up

‘New front door for the Cambridge Science Park area’

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool (Sheppard Robson) – two 1900 buildings re-purposed - winner

Nearly all our judges found the planning of outside space at the Scott Brownrigg-designed Cambridge project worthwhile and 'seductive' but there was also much discussion about the re-purposing of existing buildings.

Amy liked the external spaces at Scott Brownrigg's Cambridge International Technology Park and the concept that when 'there is nothing above your head, great ideas can happen', but also thought in the Merlin Lab project great care had been taken with what is a challenging site and to provide excellent spaces internally.

Alex thought the re-use of buildings and outside space in Liverpool would provide a real energy to learn but felt the overall concept at Scott Brownrigg's Cambridge project was better, delivering some remarkable learning space with sustainability.

Yolande felt the winning project should be the University of Liverpool because 're-purposing is what it should be about'. She felt the future for life science is in the city and the Liverpool project delivered a more intense use of land.

Fay said she felt the nature of collaboration and humanity in the Paterson Christie Manchester project was very positive, while Carey commented on the need to draw life sciences into the centre of cities.

Above: aerial view of Carpenters Estate, Newham (courtesy Populo Living / Newham Council)


Housing schemes

Hind Street, Liverpool (Ion / Wirral Council / BDP) - runner up

Carpenter’s Estate, Newham (Populo Living / Newham Council) - winner

Ebury Bridge housing (Westminster City Council) - runner up

Tiffany felt the Hind Street development was really commendable in how it re-connects communities, perhaps leading the way for other community developments to follow. She very much liked the idea of historic communities remaining intact with 'all those stories' to tell. Tiffany also liked the re-furbishment of existing towers on the Carpenters Estate.

Leanna thought it was important to keep as many residents living on the Carpenters Estate for the same reasons as Tiffany, but also liked how the greening at Ebury connects the buildings together.

Fay agreed and commented that the green spaces and connection to the high street at Ebury was very impressive but liked the passion of the community at Carpenters Estate to retain the heritage of key buildings, with the introduction of new jobs and apprenticeships. She felt that this was an important step forward for a forgotten part of east London and the craft college in her experience was a very good thing.

Ellie felt that all three projects had really good aspects to them. She admired the re-use of an industrial building at Liverpool with nearby family homes and school. She commended both at Ebury and Carpenters the policy of maintaining homes on sites for residents, rather than losing their housing and having to move elsewhere.

Yolande would like to see buildings more squeezed together and is less interested in space around them. She feels that anything that demolishes 1960s infrastructure is probably a good thing. Her preference was for the Liverpool / Wirral project of an urban village, built in a more challenging environment than London, that has such high land values.

Above: CGI of Euston Tower re-modelling by 3XN for British Land on screen behind opening panel discussion at Future Cities Forum's 'Innovation Cities' at Here East in September


Tall buildings – modern workspace

Euston Tower – refurbishment of a landmark tower (British Land and 3XN) - winner

EDGE London Bridge (EDGE / Pilbrow & Partners) - runner up

One Undershaft, City of London (Eric Parry Architects / Stanhope for Aroland Holdings) - runner up

Amy commented that developer EDGE is very good at delivering sustainable buildings and the greening around it is wonderful. She said she also enjoyed Pilbrow & Partners' design giving the sense of movement through the building and the visible staircases.

Alex felt that the promised green space around the EDGE building was something that London Bridge really needs but also wanted to commend the re-use of the Euston Tower building.

Carey agreed with Alex that the re-use of the Euston Tower building for life science is very interesting but also was intrigued by the wooden stepped amphitheatre inside the EDGE building and hoped it would be well used by children in the area who will be permitted to perform plays there.

Fay thought that the innovative re-use of the Euston Tower added an extra element of authenticity, but liked the air flow system round the EDGE building and other sustainable credentials.

Image: Ashford International Film Studios, courtesy of Ashford Borough Council


Future film studio districts

Marlow Film Studios - runner up

Ashford International Studios - winner

Bedfordshire / Home of Production - runner up

Ellie talked about the Marlow film studios project which has had objections from the local community but felt that other schemes suggested for the site would promote fewer jobs. Also that there were few sites that could attract the level of investment offered and that the project has connections with the local university and the BFI.

Yolande felt she would champion anything that uses old buildings so was keen on the Ashford Film Studios, saying it was an extraordinarily bold project for the town. Campuses can struggle to become vibrant places she said and we do really need real places, so urban environments are more favoured and for that reason she thinks Ashford as a project has more merit.

Alex thought the massive scale of the Ashford project meant that voting for it was commending it as a place with more to it than just film production but she also liked the level of skills training that the Marlow project could offer.

Anna felt that the Ashford project could also attract other industries to it as well, attract other creatives to invest and to live there if they could not afford London. It is a project she says that could create a large urban district at some point in the future.

Image (above): the re-purposed Debenhams on King's Square, Gloucester -courtesy of the University of Gloucestershire


Universities and colleges

Jesus College Oxford / Northgate project on Cornmarket and Market Street - runner up

Queen Mary University of London / Department W on Mile End Road - runner up

University of Gloucestershire / Debenhams store conversion and re-purposing on King’s Square - winner

Anna thought that Jesus College Oxford's Nothgate project had been designed as an exceptional building, but the re-use of the Debenhams department store in Gloucester is what we should be exploring today. Converting stores into civic buildings is very important for our towns and cities today she said.

Tiffany also admired the new designs for Jesus College Oxford but felt that the Gloucester store conversion was very inviting with beautiful public space in front of it.

Amy commented that today department stores are such a problem because of a waning interest in shopping and this one converted for the University of Gloucestershire would increase footfall and be a huge benefit to the town. She described how complex it is to change stores into other uses and commended the architects for managing to make it look so beautiful.

Leanna agreed that the Jesus building is very beautiful, but the conversion of stores is so relevant to today and this one could be a catalyst for other projects and an example to be used elsewhere.

Fay felt that the old store in east London converted for QMUL was very relevant to the local area and a fabulous building sympathetically restored. She thought it would be used both by many local people and students.

Image: Battersea Power Station place-making and landscape design, courtesy of LDA Design


Public realm / gardens

Battersea Power Station (LDA Design for Battersea Power Station Development Company) - winner

London Wall West / City of London Corporation - runner up

Grosvenor Square, London (Tonkin Liu / Grosvenor) - runner up

Ellie described how LDA Design had done an amazing job in creating a beautiful riverside walk and gardens at Battersea. The playground she felt is stunning and as a piece of regeneration transforming what was derelict land, quite outstanding. This is a place that is now bustling and housing people as well as generating an economy.

Anna felt that the London Wall West project was an important one in bringing everyday life and jobs into an area that is not designed for residential. It does this, she says, by introducing civic architecture, although these are offices, and by greening. It will be interesting to see she stated, what it will evolve into but as a society we have to look more deeply into how to bring about residential neighbourhoods in areas like this - in the City.

Alex commented that the City is dead of green space and if you can change that through the London Wall West plan, it could be truly transformative.

Yolande liked the Battersea place-making and felt with the proximity to the river, you can't go far wrong. She commented that the eye lines in the Grosvenor Square Garden project could be better despite the imaginative designs. The London Wall West project she described as intimate and low key and exactly what London needs. It is an example she said of how to create better local areas and make them usuable and is a good case for providing little and often in our cities.

Jessie commended the Battersea project which was once a derelict shell and now a huge hub with activity and life and felt it was most transformative.

Future Cities Forum would like to thank all the judges for their time and considered opinions in making our Winter Awards 2023 session such a success.

Image:CGI London Wall West, courtesy of the Corporation of London - a runner up in the place-making and gardens category


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