Posted Tuesday 7 July 2020
Two Kingston University buildings that have transformed the learning experience for students have been named among the finalists of the Royal Institute of British Architects' annual awards for the London region.
The flagship Town House project and the regeneration of Kingston School of Art's Mill Street Building are among 18 schemes shortlisted by RIBA in the West London category of its London regional awards, which celebrate the best new architecture across the capital.
Town House, which opened at the University's Penrhyn Road campus in January, was designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning Grafton Architects and built by three-time Education Constructor of the Year winner Willmott Dixon.
As part of a bold vision to create an inspirational new learning space that acts as a gateway to the University for borough residents and businesses, the six-storey building houses a three-floor academic library, archive, dance studios and a studio theatre. With an open staircase creating connections between the different spaces and levels, Town House also incorporates a covered internal courtyard and cafes as well as a variety of external spaces including balconies, an outdoor reading room and a rooftop garden.
The Mill Street Building was first constructed as an extension to the original building at Knights Park campus in the 1970s. Formerly known as the New Extension Building, the structure was extensively re-designed by award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins, with construction carried out by Overbury. Designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and deliver excellent workshop and studio space, the major upgrade has also enhanced the building's environmental performance.
Welcoming the RIBA announcement, Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said the two new University buildings demonstrated the power of architecture to provide uplifting, inviting, adaptable spaces for students, staff and the community.
"We strongly believe students benefit from great architecture," Professor Spier said. "Town House exemplifies the values of campus-based education, offering a welcoming and inspirational environment for our whole community in which to study, learn from each other and just be. Similarly, the Mill Street Building provides students with an enhanced creative space that reflects the thinking through making ethos of Kingston School of Art and gives them the best possible environment in which to prepare them for the professional world."
Both projects boast BREEAM Excellent ratings - a leading sustainability quality mark for masterplanning projects and infrastructure. Buildings shortlisted for the London regional awards were announced in a special edition of the RIBA Journal published on June 5. All those shortlisted will be assessed by a jury of leading architects and experts in the built environment, with site visits taking place once restrictions lift following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Regional winners will go on to be considered for a highly-coveted RIBA National Award in recognition of their architectural excellence. The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the best building of the year is drawn from the RIBA National Award-winning buildings.
The latest recognition for Town House comes after it was unveiled as one of the finalists in the prestigious Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards in May. It is also vying for top honours in the Buildings that Inspire category in this year's Guardian University Awards.