From the ingenious transformation of some of London’s remaining gasholders into homes to the UK’s first proton beam facility; from an office that blurs the boundaries between work and home to the fastest school ever built, Ike Ijeh  surveys the shortlisted nominees for the coveted Building magazine Project of the Year Award

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GasholdersLR

Source: Peter Landers

Gasholders London

London

Architect Wilkinson Eyre

Client King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership

Contractor Carillion

Submitted by Wilkinson Eyre

Gasholders may be a diminishing presence on the British urban landscape, but this radical project puts some of those remaining to ingenious reuse. The triplet of grade II-listed but disused gasholders in the centre of the massive King’s

Cross Central regeneration site in the middle of London have been transformed into three conjoined cylindrical residential blocks containing 145 flats. The original cast-iron latticework drums are structurally independent of the new buildings, but are carefully interwoven through and around them to create a landmark contemporary luxury residential development that resonates powerfully with the raw industrial heritage of its host structures.

White-Collar-Factory_Tim-SoarLR

Source: Tim Soar

White Collar Factory

London

Architect AHMM

Client Derwent London

Contractor Multiplex

Submitted by AHMM

In recent years there has been much talk of the office of the future as a hybrid workspace that blurs boundaries between work and home by suppressing traditional corporate monoculture and prioritising informality, individuality and wellness. While such aspirations are now increasingly common, White Collar Factory was arguably the earliest and most influential large-scale representation of the trend. The office harks back to the simplicity, efficiency and longevity of 19th-century factory buildings and translates this into a pioneering 21st-century template chiefly centred on high ceilings, deep plans, simple passive facades, concrete structure and smart servicing. The result is one of the most ambitious office buildings in London and a landmark development that could well serve as a template for how future office design is both perceived and progressed. 

Royal-Birmingham-ConservatoireLR

Source: Hufton + Crow

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham

Architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Client Birmingham City University

Contractor Galliford Try

Submitted by Galliford Try

Renowned cellist and conductor Julian Lloyd Webber is the driving force behind the UK’s first purpose-built music teaching and performance academy in over 30 years. The £57m state-of-the-art venue contains a 500-seat concert hall, a 146-seat recital hall, a 100-seat organ studio, a 100-seat experimental studio, more than 70 teaching rooms and an 80-seat jazz club that claims to be the first permanent jazz performance space in any UK conservatoire. Facilities for 650 students are contained behind a restrained brick facade that eschews the flashy exhibitionism that much of Birmingham’s showpiece civic architecture has adopted in recent years. 

Bloomberg Building

The Bloomberg Building

London

Architect Foster + Partners

Client Bloomberg

Contractor Sir Robert McAlpine

Submitted by Sir Robert McAlpine

It’s not often that a big commercial project ends up constructing a shorter building than that permitted by planners, but that is exactly what happened at Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in the City of London. Not only did Bloomberg reject the high-rise typology encouraged by the planners, in its sensitive engagement with historic context, materials and public realm the American giant also gave its British audience a timely lesson in urban character and civic responsibility. Interspersed with its heritage sensitivities is a trailblazing environmental strategy that includes a “breathable” external envelope and a radical internal “petal” ceiling system that combines lighting, ventilation and acoustics. 

Read part two of the shortlist tomorrow

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