Posted Tuesday 31 August 2021
Kingston University's commitment to design excellence has been recognised in the annual Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) London Region Awards, which have seen it scoop the regional Client of the Year accolade along with individual awards for two of its buildings.
The flagship Town House project and the regeneration of Kingston School of Art's Mill Street Building were among 46 projects to receive RIBA London awards after the chairs of five expert juries were hosted at socially distanced visits of all 77 shortlisted schemes across the capital.
The University was also named Client of the Year in recognition of the architectural achievements of its Town House and Mill Street Building. The accolade is one of six special awards handed out by RIBA London which specially recognise projects for their ‘excellence in sustainability, exemplary approach to conservation, inspirational project architect or design quality'.
Town House, which opened at the University's Penrhyn Road campus in January last year, 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. The design incorporates an open staircase, covered internal courtyard and cafes as well as a variety of external spaces including balconies, an outdoor reading room and two rooftop gardens. RIBA's judging panel said Town House "framed a bold aspiration to design the beating heart for Kingston University within a building worthy of the international stage".
The Mill Street Building was first constructed as an extension to the original buildings 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 greatly enhanced the building's environmental performance. RIBA praised the "joyful reinvention" of 20th century building as a "vibrant and imaginative exemplar of conservation in its truest sense".
Both projects boast BREEAM certification - a leading sustainability quality mark for masterplanning projects and infrastructure – with Town House rated BREEAM Excellent and the Mill Street Building BREEAM Outstanding. The Mill Street Building's sustainability credentials were acknowledged in March when it won the 2021 BREEAM award for best public sector project post-construction.
Welcoming the RIBA London accolades, Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said the two schemes exemplified the University's commitment to delivering stunning buildings that all who study and work at the institution could be proud of.
"With both of these projects we set out to provide our students with the world-class buildings and spaces in which to study and learn that they truly deserve and can benefit from," he said. "Great architecture has the power to transform people's experiences, to uplift and inspire. Seeing both projects receive RIBA London awards is fantastic, but to also have our commitment to delivering architecture of this quality recognised with the Client of the Year award is immensely satisfying.
"Providing welcoming and inviting environments for our students as well as our staff and visitors is a key part of our commitment as an institution to the future of campus-based education."
The University's Director of Estates and Sustainability Sean Woulfe said the awards recognised the University's approach to sustainably delivering excellent design across its campuses.
"The latest honours for Town House and the Mill Street Building are a testament to the huge amount of work from everyone involved, from our design partners to the construction firms who built them," he said. "It's particularly heart-warming for us to be recognised for a new build as well as the highly sustainable refurbishment of an existing building, which reflects our commitment to sustainability. Town House was conceived as a statement of confidence for the University and a major contribution to the civic landscape of the Town. The Mill Street Building refurbishment delivers facilities that reflect the ambition and quality of our internationally renowned art and design portfolio."
Both projects will now go forward 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 in the UK is drawn from the RIBA National Award-winning buildings.