Public building has come into its own over the past year and the winner of this category has set a standard for others to follow
The category was open to members of the project team for a public project that has been completed (or at least one major phase has been completed) between September 2007 and November 2008.
- Westminster Academy
In the middle of a gritty area of west London dominated by a flyover, tower blocks and a major road sits a haven for school children that our judges said “changes the way people see educational facilities” and “has transformed the area with its colours”. This is because Westminster academy, as designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, is remarkable. The first thing you notice is its appearance: large glazed sections, vibrantly coloured tiles and illuminated panels make it reflective during the day and make it glow at night. The second is the atmosphere: the moment students walk in they feel safe, say the staff. The front foyer is secure and welcoming and teachers have a view across the entire building from the central staircase. And it is more than just a school. Its superb acoustics mean local events are held in it, and this naturally cements the school's links with the community.
- Bexley Wing, St James'
Hospital, Leeds On this £220m scheme, Bovis Lend Lease faced several challenges, not least constructing a two-storey basement under an eight-storey building with a sloping site. It also had to relocate 26 departments in the building. The result is a hospital that is a world away from the traditional institutional environment; it is light and airy, and places the emphasis firmly on the comfort, well-being and relaxation of patients.
- Falmouth School design block
On this project, architect Urban Salon's client was a group of 11 pupils, who helped it to complete the scheme on time and to budget. The school also incorporated many innovative green features and demonstrated how effective bespoke prefabricated solutions can be. Finally, the children developed problem-solving, communication and leadership skills, which means you'll probably be seeing them in a boardroom near you before long.
- Project Zebra, Alnwick
Zebra is an ultra low-emissions office for Defra in Northumberland, built by Kier Northern. It was designed to achieve exemplary sustainability standards, and it certainly does that - in addition to natural ventilation and solar shading, there are three wind turbines, four photovoltaic arrays, a biomass boiler and a thermal array boiler. Its energy rating of A+ makes it the first zero-carbon public buildings.
- Runnymede civic offices, Surrey
Runnymede council is more than just an office, it is a new breed of government building that brings together four services under one roof: council HQ, police station, library and CCTV control. The aim is to regenerate Addlestone town centre and empower local government. The prominent position of this £16.4m structure on a main road and its clear-glazed front helps showcase all its functions. This project was entered by Buro Four.
- St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
The £36m renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square is one of the most complex projects of recent years. More than just a church, it has facilities for the homeless, a rich music programme and a popular cafe. Using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Eric Parry Architects surmounted the challenges of working with a listed building, reworking underground spaces and integrating new services - while the homeless continued to be aided.
- The Eltham Centre, south-east London
Before £17.6m Eltham Centre existed, there was no access point in the town for Greenwich council's services. This building has changed that by bringing a library, leisure, education and fitness facilities together with a crèche, cafe, meeting spaces and a citizen's advice bureau. Community consultation ensured the right mix of facilities was included, and the building is seen as a model for other councils. The project was entered by its architect, Dyer.
- Thomas Deacon Academy, Peterborough
This education facility is the largest of Foster + Partners' new schools. The challenge was to provide a large number of rooms, minimise travelling distances and eliminate bullying hotspots. These aims were achieved by creating two ribbons of classrooms around a central concourse. The glazed partition walls of the classrooms allow uninterrupted natural surveillance across the central area.