This coveted award, sponsored by Reynaers, celebrates the imaginative flair and entrepreneurial success of the industry's designers. And who better to take it home than a Stirling Prize-nominated practice?
"Their work combines, unusually, flair and imaginative creativity with sound practicality." This is not the usual client's-eye view of an architect, but then, Bennetts Associates is not your usual architect. Unusually, it favours design-and-build schemes on most of its major projects, integrating the main contractor into the design process for the entire duration of the project. The scope of the practice's work over the past year illustrates its commitment to design excellence in all sectors of the market. From its environmentally innovative Jubilee Library in Brighton to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to Land Securities' £200m New Street Square project, the practice has proven itself first choice for both elite cultural establishments and leading corporations.
Last year's architectural practice of the year, BPTW has now firmly established itself as a leading player in sustainable architecture. At its Pepys Estate redevelopment in Deptford, the practice identified sustainability as the key factor in determining the project layout and innovative use of timber frame construction in the design. By integrating green space to increase natural surveillance at the former crime hub, BPTW helped minimise maintenance and running costs for the scheme's future.
Broadway Malyan has earned perhaps the highest praise a client can offer an architect. "We can always build what they get planning for," says one grateful client. "It's a much underrated skill among architects." Over the past year, the practice has extended its work beyond Europe into Russia and China, where its Sixin Lake City project in Wuhan stands out as an exemplar of masterplanning and sustainable urban design. Natural filter beds throughout the scheme's canal systems improve water quality, and a network of canals and green corridors provides ambient cooling for the hot summer months.
John McAslan + Partners
Any architect chosen to design the headquarters of leading Italian fashion house Max Mara has to be doing something right. John McAslan + Partners completed the low-energy building just south of Milan this year, and is now engaged on £1bn worth of projects across the commercial, education, transport, arts and residential sectors. Its design excellence has been sought across the globe, from the British Embassy project in Algiers to King's Cross Station in London.
Pollard Thomas Edwards
Pollard Thomas Edwards has more than 30 years' experience in both private and public sector work, and many of its clients have retained their links with the practice for the full length of that period. It's easy to see why: PTE is a diverse practice equally successful on large office developments as smaller, quirkier projects. It can currently be found working on a rejuvenation of Brockwell Park Lido, fondly referred to by locals as "Brixton Beach".
Founded 40 years ago in the midst of Britain's post-war rebuilding programme, PRP Architects knows a thing or two about government housing strategy. Employing 330 staff over five offices, it is actively involved in more than 100 partnering deals with RSLs and contractors. The practice's Wembley W-01 residential project is a prime example of its adoption of the sustainable communities agenda: it will be the first UK residential development to adopt the ENVAC system for waste disposal, eliminating the need for rubbish chutes.
Building Awards 2006
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Architectural practice of the year