The Schueco Gold Award
The Schueco Gold Award is presented annually to the practice that BD’s editor deems to have made the most significant contribution to British architecture over the past year. The practice is selected from the list of winners in the other AYA categories; it is our award for the best of the best. The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 3rd December at The Brewery, London. By entering for any of the Architect of the Year Award categories, other than YAYA or the IE School of Architecture and Design Scholarship, you will automatically have a chance of winning the Gold Award.
The 2012 Gold Award Winner – Alison Brooks Architects
The Schueco Gold Award was presented to Alison Brooks Architects in 2012, in recognition of the practice’s contribution to the volume housing sector. The practice has already been widely recognised for the apartment buildings and villas that it contributed to the Stirling Prize-winning Accordia scheme in Cambridge. In its Newhall development in Harlow, Essex, the practice has turned its attention to the much-neglected problem of the affordable family house, developing highly inventive variations on the stand-alone dwelling and terraced house types.
In a period when the delivery of new houses has reached its lowest level since the 1920s, the judges felt it was particularly important to recognise the work of an architect making an inspiring contribution to the sector.
The decision over which practice should be named Architect of the Year, and winner of the Schueco Gold Award, came down to a vote between three practices. Ultimately, however, Alison Brooks Architects emerged as a clear winner, her contribution to the field of volume housing being deemed particularly worthy of celebration.
“Housing often gets forgotten and it’s so important” came the plea from one juror when the moment arrived to honour one standout practice. “It’s the building type around which an architect stands or falls.”
Doing anything interesting with mass housing was a big challenge, agreed the judges, but Alison Brooks Architects’ work was “most inventive”. The practice’s Newhall housing in Harlow, Essex, completed in 2012, following its acclaimed Accordia Brass apartment building in Cambridge in 2010. Proposed developments include schemes at Bath Riverside and London’s South Kilburn. “Her submission really stood apart from other submissions,” said one, singling out the practice’s 84 units at the Newhall development for particular praise.
“With what could be quite a mundane brief, she managed to lift the environment for the occupants,” said another. “She has interesting ideas about space and puts a lot of thought into how people use it.”