RIBA Project Architect of the Year
RIBA Judges comments:
Much of our contemporary architectural debate is often focused on the objectification and the projected ‘iconic’ value of the formal architectural object. Whilst the idea of the ‘icon’ is a very seductive and powerful construct, Derwenthorpe development brings together the complex ideas of identity, community, material sensibilities, public spaces and landscape into a singular harmonious place for the residents, where community is the focus and inspiration, creating a beautiful sense of place and identity for those living there.
The generosity of the public space is equally extended to the spatial standard of the individual houses, with a shared approach to sustainability, and where the house becomes a home.
The design team described the project’s aims as:
“to provide both a socially and environmentally sustainable community and includes energy efficient homes, incentives for lifestyle change, the promotion of community participation and long-term custodianship”
These aims have been met with great success. This project demonstrates a real and analytical commitment to sustainability. Its approach encompasses community and social wellbeing, passive design and active technologies using cutting edge techniques. Its reach goes beyond the buildings into the consideration of the local environment, both in terms of water usage/ attenuation/ biodiversity, as well as the types of spaces and amenities it provides for inhabitants.
All of this is underpinned by research and evaluation leading to thorough post-occupancy evaluation and sharing lessons learnt with its sister project. This is a true sustainable approach from inception to completion and can only be described as exemplary and what all housing developments should aspire to.
In addition to the sustainability agenda, and the complex challenges these types of projects present, the commitment and passion demonstrated by the architect over a sustained long term period was identified as a testament to the success of the quality and design consistency which has permeated the project at all levels and continues into the next phases, adopting and evolving the lessons from the past. The Jury felt this was an exceptional project in its endeavours - a certain winner of the RIBA Regional Sustainability Award and the Regional Project Architect of the Year - and a testament to the long-term commitment and dedication towards betterment of community life which can easily dissipate!
Photographer: Tim Crocker