Urban regeneration was the watchword at the 7th Georgian Group Architectural Awards at Christie’s last week. Many nominations, including all four for the restoration of a Georgian building in an urban setting won by Somerset House, Halifax and the winner of the reuse category, the Navigation Warehouse in Wakefield, were in rundown inner-city areas and had been restored with the backing of local authorities.
‘The urban setting category was particularly fiercely fought and the shortlist is largely from those inner urban areas that would fall by the wayside in a recession,’ says group secretary Robert Bargery. ‘In many of these instances, you have a real sense of the salvation of this building uplifting the whole neighborhood. The restoration is often the beginning of a virtuous cycle.’
As usual, there were spectacular survival stories and inspiring new-builds. The winning restoration of a country house was Cairness House, Aberdeen, which was riddled with dry rot when the current owners took it on. It’s now been fully restored, which included remaking or restoring 51 cast-iron chimneypots and re-creating the Etruscan library.
The Giles Worsley Award for a new building in a Georgian context went to Hartforth Home Farm, Yorkshire, a new Classical and Gothick house by Francis Johnson & Partners that’s ‘a direct and highly considered response to the Georgian buildings that form its immediate context’.
Crispin Holborow, of award sponsor Savills, says: ‘Despite the recession, we had a record 70 entries and there were a lot of worthwhile ones that didn’t make the shortlist. It’s good to see the Georgian angle is as popular as ever.
The new-builds are interesting architecturally, and it was particularly good to see some regional twists in the style.’ The Duke of Gloucester, who presented the awards, said: ‘Although the awards seek to reward past endeavour, they also provoke new projects, and we’re unashamedly positive about the future.’
The winning restored church was St Lawrence, Mereworth, Kent, by Thomas Ford & Partners; the winning landscape Hardwick Park, Sedgefield; and the new building in the Classical tradition was 264-267, Tottenham Court Road by Quinlan and Francis Terry.
For full details of the winners and nominations, visit www.georgiangroup.org.uk