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Summer Awards 2024 - Judges' comments on winners and runners-up

Above: Winner in the 'Cultural Buildings' category, Richard Gilder Center, New York (courtesy Studio Gang)

Future Cities Forum is releasing the highlights of comments made by our all-female panel of judges, following the announcements of our winners and runners up. The judging of Future Cities Summer Awards took place last week in London. The judging panel participants were:

Chloe Brand, Director of Development, The Design Museum

Nyasa Beale, Director, Scott Brownrigg

Becky Gardiner, Head of Storey, British Land PLC

Anna Shapiro, Partner, Sheppard Robson


Carolyn Ploszynski, Head of Regeneration & Economy, Oxford City Council

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England

Kar Paik Soon, Design and Project Lead, HOK

Gergana Draganova, Urban Design Director, BDP


Below are samples of comments from each category: cultural buildings, university buildings, place-making, science buildings, housing and heritage.



Cultural buildings




Richard Gilder Centre for Science, Innovation and Education, American Museum of Natural History, New York City


Istanbul Modern

Perth Museum Scotland


'It's very significant that Istanbul Modern is the first modern art gallery for Istanbul. That feels like a moment. The location on the waterfront is important and the design makes use of light from the Bosphoros.

'The Richard Gilder Centre has been done in a spectacular way with 'theatrical sculpture' and great attention to materials. It will appeal to children as much as adults. The use of 'soft' forms in architecture really appeals to me. They have used Shotcrete which was created by a museum naturalist.

'The Perth Museum project was an audacious way to transform the former city hall, which had lost its role, into a museum with a very effective way of showing off the exhibits. I liked the details.'


'I liked the way, at the creation of the Richard Gilder Centre, that a taxidermist had been involved in the material 'Shotcrete' used in the making of the building. The space becomes a destination in itself, and visitors and families will be blown away by it.'

'With Perth anything that re-purposes beautiful old buildings is fantastic and to give the city its own cultural centre is important.'


'I looked at which of these three is the most innovative and challenges the idea of what a cultural building should be. I think Istanbul Modern is doing an amazing job. How do we curate collections in a very complex city with a heritage that is very charged? There was something really precise in the approach with a very polished language. Where it is most innovative is how the building forms an interface with the waterfront where the ground is open and light with expansive public realm.'




Above: winner in the University Buildings category, London College of Fashion at Stratford's East Bank development.




University buildings




London College of Fashion / UAL at Stratford


ARC building at the University of Glasgow

St John’s College Oxford master-plan including new library and study centre


'Although St John's is an outstanding building that has impressive carbon credentials and is nestled very well within the wider setting of the college I was really taken with the Arc Building in Glasgow. What I thought was really strong here, was how special attention had been given to public access and trying to show what goes in inside for those not part of the University community. This is so important when thinking about city development and regeneration.' 


'The London College of Fashion is an amazing achievement bringing all the departments together and it has a Louis Kahn flexible feel. St John's College kept my attention because it has developed over years and the attention to detail is so fine, with attention to layers of history.'


'I was out at Stratford the other week, and I think the London College of Fashion building is doing such an amazing thing for that area and for London. It's home to 5,000 students and it will be the largest fashion school in the world, creating an amazing community on our doorstep. The ARC building is doing a similar thing in Glasgow bringing together 500 researchers from different departments.'

Kar Paik:

'The London College of Fashion's project documentation from Allies and Morrison shows it is a like a campus on plan, that is then translated vertically. You have different departments working with each other but you can't spread the building out because of the site constraints. The College of Fashion has a simple structure but it is in-built with a lot of detail, and uses a simple set of rules for the materials.'

'I worked on the Olympic Park for four years from 2012, so I think they (the LCF/UAL project team) have done it really well. They have managed to create regeneration while minimising gentrification.'


'When you are in a university setting you want to open it up for collaboration so the London College of Fashion has that quality in being really open. It also feels safe which is important for students working late in to the evening. It is austere but it works in the Stratford context.'


'The London College of Fashion needs to be a signature building, because it has to stand out as a brand in the University of the Arts portfolio which includes Central Saint Martins at King's Cross and Chelsea College of Art on Millbank by Tate Britain. It also has a large international body of students. It has brought six sites together which is very good.'



Above: CGI of public realm at Elephant Park (courtesy Gillespies)








Elephant Park, Southwark, London


Holborn as a live-able district

Sheffield’s Castle Market



'The Holborn Liveable district was a real stand out for me in this one. It cuts to the heart of some of the largest challenges facing cities and urban regeneration. Trying to reprioritise existing spaces to improve the environment involves a real challenge and patient approach that has been demonstrated here. This is challenging in many ways. It involves behaviour change and adjustment to existing spaces that are well used and so not without controversy and it can be really challenging as it has very little new development to leverage against for funding.  I thought their approach in terms of engagement and building up ideas proactively to then seek and develop projects is really strong.' 


'Elephant Park is incredible because it is pushing the boundaries on place-making and what we want our cities to look like. It has all the trees, play areas and Passivhaus homes and a good story around sustainability, so it is really changing that part of London.'


'Elephant (in Southwark) is becoming a really amazing place. Bringing nature to the centre of London, when it has been so grey and dusty there.


'I wanted to speak in favour of Holborn as this project is working with three big institutions - the British Museum, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Inns of Court. These are big beasts with their own interests and challenges, so what it is doing is making the space around these much more legible - car-free with room for bikes and pedestrians. I like the details on biodiversity and space for long tables for eating outside.'

Above: Bluebird housing for the homeless (Courtesy Harp Southend)







Bluebird – housing for the homeless (Southend-on-Sea) for Harp


Beechwood Village, Basildon


Affordable homes in Newport, South Wales



'All these projects were really interesting in their own ways. For me the Zed Pods in Hill Street House in Newport stood out to me as an innovative way to address an urgent crisis in terms of people in temporary accommodation which is facing most cities in the UK. Utilising an underused car park in this way with affordable to rent but also to run homes that can be built quickly is a really interesting project'. 


'Beechwood is lovely as an idea, as it democratises the sense of design and what your home could be. The social purpose of the other two pull at your heart strings. The ability to re-envision a car park is very impressive (Zed Pods).'


'I agree with the social value of Blue Bird and Zed Pods but Beechwood steps ahead .If you are talking about architecture and design then creating a community is very important. People on low incomes can customise their homes and that creates real community with everyone having an individual home which makes for a sense of place. The other projects - Bluebird and Zed Pods - are brilliant for solving a problem but for creating a place it's Beechwood for me.'

Above: interior of Forskaren life sciences hub, Stockholm (courtesy 3XN Architects for Vectura Fastigheter AB)



Science buildings




Forskaren Life Sciences Hub, Stockholm



Hancock Hall, UC Berkeley, California


MIX Manchester , UK



'Forskaren in Stockholm is a really impressive building in many ways. It has taken the many challenges of life science buildings in terms of the floor to ceiling heights and large plant requirements and delivered a really high quality building that is of interest in the cityscape and well as being thoughtful in terms of its approach to encourage sharing of ideas and innovation internally.'


'MIX Manchester stands out for me. It provides for a mix of different sized tenancies, small to large, and this allows companies to grow within the same place and this is a particular challenge for science developments.

It's a new take on the science park.'


'This category had resonance for me regarding the work British Land is doing on our property in Triton Square, which is undergoing a conversion to life sciences. I loved the central staircase of Forskaren in Stockholm, creating the ability to meet and collaborate. For what it brings to the outside environment I liked MIX Manchester as it talked about the range of uses on the ground floor. The criticism of many science parks in the past has been that you go there to find only a sad sandwich van, a Costa and very small pond as the amenities. This one at MIX is bringing much more, which will help to attract talent and businesses.'




Above: Crusader Mill and Phoenix Building, Manchester (Courtesy shedkm for Capital & Centric)




Crusader Works Manchester



Bank Buildings, Belfast


Shrewsbury Flax Mill



'The Manchester project, Crusader Mill, is honest and real. So often when working on heritage assets one has to be careful not to turn a building into a theme park, but this is stitched into its wider context. It is part of the broader strategy for this part of Manchester. Also I do think Belfast should be congratulated but that project will not change the way we think about the future.'


'These are all really impressive projects in their own ways. One of the hardest categories for me to pick one. However, Shrewsbury Flax Mill was a real stand out in terms of what it has achieved including some impressive carbon reduction initiatives. However, what set it apart in the end because of the elements that went beyond the heritage in the building but the approach to heritage skills. For example, the heritage skills programme that was delivered during the construction works, using the site itself as a tool for learning'.

Kar Paik:

'I try and look closely at both the architecture and the social impact side of these projects. On Crusader Mill what came out was that some of the building was not (reserved) for investors, as too much focus on the investor market can lead to empty properties, which is bad for communities.'

Thank you to all our judges who took part in Future Cities Forum's Summer Awards 2024.


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