Davis Duncan’s distinctive design transformed a bleak urban triangle and won it this award
The brief for this scheme was simple: to create a landmark design and site it on a bleak triangle of ground bounded by busy roads. Davis Duncan responded with three apartment blocks running along each side of the site. One is inspired by Le Corbusier and uses colour, texture and architectural layering to create an arresting elevation – so arresting, in fact, that the architect describes it as “art to live in”. At the centre of the triangle is a tranquil courtyard containing a garden where the team strived for animation, serenity and delight. The judges think they succeeded. They commented: “This is a scheme in an inhospitable setting that has a distinctive design and provides tranquility with its courtyard. We liked the use of colour. We would also praise the use of landscaping. We would like to emphasise the importance of landscaping in urban schemes.”
Adastral Village South, London, entered by Bellway
In the 1960s the Adastral Village area of Colindale in north-west London was a desert of low-quality housing estates. Now Bellway has built a model mixed-tenure development of 170 new homes designed by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects. These are arranged around six courtyards that are at once secure, space-efficient, homely and stylish.
Vicus Apartments, Manchester, entered by Broadway Malyan
Vicus is an apartment block in the heart of the Castlefield regeneration area in Manchester, and as such had to have a commanding civic presence. This has been achieved by means of good architecture. As the judges said: "It’s a sophisticated city scheme with a light and appealing interior. It has an extremely rational plan and good circulation in the atrium, and it is well detailed."
Pimlico Village, London, entered by Levitt Bernstein
This former London Transport bus garage has been transformed into a £55m mixed-use development arranged around a supermarket. Apart from the block’s obvious architectural quality, it has succeeded in including 50% affordable housing. And, as per the brief, Levitt Bernstein has made the affordable and the private homes indistinguishable, at least from the outside.
Battersea Reach, London, entered by St George South London and Broadway Malyan
Hard to miss these three massive cliff faces overlooking the Thames: not in the day, when they dominate the river frontage, and even less so at night, when they become a wall of lit windows. All of which is quite an achievement when you consider that what is now 290,000 ft2 of stylish modern living was a derelict oil depot three years before. The judges were impressed with the expertise that went into remediating the site, and with the commercial thrust that brought the project into being.
One SE8, London, entered by St James
This was unlucky not to take the top prize. St James has transformed a former water extraction and treatment works into an inspiring development. The use of colour and texture, the striking hard landscaping features, the provision of free bicycles, 24-hour concierge, gym, pool and bar-restaurant add up to a scheme that combines strong buyer appeal with sensitivity to the sustainability agenda.
The Building Communties awards 2005
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Urban Housing Development of the Year: Winner The Matrix, entered by Davis Duncan Architects