In a remarkably strong field, Bennetts Associates won the judges’ admiration with stellar designs for projects as Stratford-upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Architectural Practice of the Year, sponsored by Comar

Winner: Bennetts Associates

This was a hotly contested category, and the judges had a difficult time picking a winner - but in the end it was Bennetts Associates that stood out. The practice isn’t as big as some of its rivals, but the judges found evidence of “consistently good  projects with an excellent firm behind them”. The firm’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre, in particular, captured their imagination. This immensely complicated cultural project has transformed the home of the theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and was brought in on time and on budget. Time and again,  Bennetts has combined architectural  excellence with laudable sustainability credentials and fantastic delivery. And with a run of major project wins leading the  practice to start recruiting extra staff, the future is looking bright indeed.

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

AHMM’s projects are providing a beacon of light in the troubled education sector, with projects such as Kirk Ball school in Barnsley, which offers educational inspiration to a deprived area of Yorkshire.

David Morley Architects

Winning its largest ever project - the £115m St Bernard’s Mental Health hospital in West London - as well as work on the 2012 Games water polo venue, 2010 has been a year to remember for David Morley Architects.

Feilden Clegg Bradley studios

The Woodland Trust headquarters, which used timber to provide a saving of 20 years of carbon dioxide generation, was one of the most memorable projects in a year of standout schemes for Feilden Clegg Bradley studios.

Pollard Thomas Edwards architects

PTEa could win a popularity contest this year, with 82% of its work repeat business. Its sensitive designs in the housing, regeneration and education sectors have had a hugely beneficial impact on local communities as well.

Woods Bagot

With exceptional projects in Australia, China and in the UK, it’s hard to pick a highlight for Woods Bagot, but a zero-carbon, zero-emissions scheme on the River Yangtze may be one option.