Winner Jeremy Gardner Associates - Chapelfield Regeneration Project

The Chapelfield Shopping Centre in Norwich is the largest single project to be undertaken in Norfolk in the past 12 years. According to Richard Gawthorpe, head of business support at the CNC building control consultancy, the innovative design of the centre meant that an equally innovative approach to the approval of the scheme would be necessary. To choose one example, if the worst should happen, the three-storey atrium risked becoming a smoke trap and then a death trap, particularly for those on the first floor level. After a series of design workshops were held, a set of smoke vents were installed that would leave a clear smoke layer 4m above the first floor.

The finalists

Berkeley Homes - Chelsea Bridge Wharf

Fire is the greatest danger faced by the designers of apartment blocks, but it was a particular threat at the Chelsea Bridge Wharf development because of the underground car park, which acts as a funnel bringing oxygen to a fire, and allows flame and smoke to spread very quickly. The solution was to install smoke curtains, positioned at regular intervals on the ceiling. In the apartment itself, architect Scott Brownrigg and International Fire Consultants installed smoke shafts to ventilate corridors and the fire detection and sprinkler systems are of a higher standard than called for in the regulations. If a fire should break out, flashing beacons direct firemen to the correct entrance. All in all, a meticulously thought-through strategy.

Bolsover council - Barlborough hospital

This scheme was something of a feather in the cap of Bolsover council in Derbyshire, particularly since the clients, Care UK and Life Healthcare, had previously worked with approved inspectors. Part of the reason that Bolsover won this job was that it offered a qualified fire engineer as part of the building control team. The payoff for the designer, Quorum Partnership, was that a sophisticated fire engineering approach allowed the centre to be more open and patient friendly than would otherwise have been the case. A lot of work was undertaken to determine how active precautions could minimise the need for fire doors, and a daily visit by the building control surveyors meant that the workmanship, cavity barriers and firestopping could be closely supervised.

St George - Battersea Reach

This multi-phased mega development by the banks of the Thames in south-west London has already figured in numerous awards shortlists, and it is easy to see why, such were the demands raised and met by the developer and its friends in the council. To take one small illustration, consider the underground car park. This is an obvious risk, and building control helped consultant engineer White Young Green to work out a system of impulse fans to ensure that the space could be effectively cleared of smoke in the event of a fire. This was checked with computer models, which showed that they would work well enough to avoid having to install a sprinkler system.