The 2015 Stephen Lawrence Prize shortlist features:
The Acoustic Shells were a community led project, and extra care was taken to ensure its accessibility and that all of the community could benefit from the new facilities. These measures include: simple level access to both stage and shelter from both the beach side promenade and the coach drop off; enhanced acoustics for the bandstand; 100% auditoria access for wheel chairs via ramped access from the coach and car park; and that the new facility is a clear visual landmark on the promenade, a meeting point, and social hub.
Ancient Party Barn; Kent / Liddicoat & Goldhill LLP
Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the 18th Century threshing barn, dairy and stables are a prominent feature from the North Downs Way. To maintain the barn’s brooding presence - and to provide security and a sense of protection from rolling Channel mists - the barn is usually kept in a closed state. However, industrial-scale kinetic mechanisms create openings that address key views into the countryside.
Brighton Waste House; East Sussex / BBM Sustainable Design Ltd
From a distance this looks like an ordinary contemporary town house. However when one gets nearer and sees carpet tiles used as wall cladding, it becomes clear this is a project with an interesting agenda. More than a space to live, work and play in, the house is a collective of experiments in which students learn by application the ways whereby recycled materials can be used in construction.
Although not immediately obvious, the design process and personal stories behind each wall, piece of furniture and light fitting are simply fascinating. It is a project that will never be fully resolved, will have a continually evolving brief and will always be full of activity, thanks to a dedicated team of supporters. Some of the experiments are extraordinary: from old toothbrushes used as insulation to old carpet tiles used as rain-screen cladding. This project cleverly breathes new life into objects and materials that would normally be discarded.
The Brighton Waste House has sufficient scientific integrity to be taken seriously by the construction industry and just enough political clout to influence recycling policy. It is clear this interesting project will continue to question important issues of recycling that affect everyone.
Dundon Passivhaus; Somerset / Prewett Bizley Architects
Dundon Passivhaus is an extraordinarily understated and unpretentious building set in a beautiful rural landscape.
It is a substantially self-build project by the architect for his family’s occupation, designed and built to Passivhaus standards but with the scope to open windows as you would in any conventional building.
Entering the house you are greeted with a forest of internal timber cladding. Large sliding folding windows ensure that every ounce of the view penetrates the space. An introverted living room has large log burners providing heating and hot water to supplement the solar thermal on the roof and a MVHR system.
The garden houses a 4,500 litre rainwater harvesting tank. The walls are super-insulated using recycled paper. The internal carpentry, joinery and other features all beautifully detailed and crafted.
The Fishing Hut; Hampshire / Niall McLaughlin Architects
The primitive hut has a long anthropological pedigree as well as an architectural one. This is a sophisticated primitive hut, worthy of Murcutt or Leplastrier but set not on the edge of the Bush but on a Hampshire lake, close by chalk-filtered streams providing watercress beds and fishing.
The timber-framed and clad construction on galvanised supports hovers over the lake, intended as a retreat for fishermen and a place for the owner’s family to unwind.
But it as much about time passing as it is about fishing: crafted slatted timber panels which allow the building to ‘hunker-down’ in the winter, open up in the spring to become delicate brises soleils. Timber framed glass screens slide away. Within a few moments in time a solid building is transparent.
This small discreet building serves as a space to work, sew, play guitar and sleep in.
It is built into the side of a steep hill below an accessible, flat, sedum roof perforated with flat roof-lights. Whilst modest in scale, it possesses a clear and positive presence.
Beautifully and impeccably detailed and crafted inside and out, it is clad entirely in patinated copper sheet externally and lined in vertical oak boarding internally, with limited areas of polished copper. Rough sawn timber panels with crafted recessed handles open up to reveal storage.
Further investigation unearths a compact copper-clad bathroom lit by a carefully located roof light. To the rear a top-lit seating area provides an atmospheric moment in which to pause from the daily grind.
A planning requirement for a single dwelling on this large back land site has effectively tamed the developer instinct to maximise the value of the site with a multi-unit scheme and freed the architect/client/developer to build this extraordinary family home. The accommodation wraps around an old pear tree that was literally excavated from the rubbish strewn site and has formed the primary generator for the plan.
The sequence of living spaces on the ground floor is experienced as a gently stepping promenade through a garden, the plan and section have been resolved to give an interesting spatial layering, and glimpses up through first floor roof lights increase the sense of space. It feels that the building is the result of sculpting out a sequence of internal spaces perhaps heightened by the in-situ concrete ground floor construction. First floor rooms are sky-lit timber boxes with controlled views out, externally simple black cladding panels with aluminium mullions break up the upper volumes and organise windows.
It is hard to believe this is a self-build project developed in on site with friends helping to build. The construction is immaculate and details careful considered and executed. Materials that in other hands could feel opulent are balanced with everyday finishes to achieve an unprecious interior: a deeply innovative and well-crafted composition that is spatially and materially rich, and yet feels wholly comfortable and domestic in nature.
The winner will be announced on October 15 at the RIBA in central London.
News and project descriptions via the Royal Institute of British Architects.