IHBC Yearbook 2010

84 Y e a r b o o k 2 0 1 0 The RIBA and Historic Building Conservation Brendan O’Connor When most people think about organisations that reward designers for work carried out to listed or historic buildings and regeneration projects, the Royal Institute of British Architects is probably not near the top of their list. Alongside its national and regional awards, however, the RIBA has been awarding the Crown Estate Conservation Award for 12 years now. Since 2008 this has been joined by the RIBA CABE Public Space Award. Recent RIBA award winners include: The Royal Festival Hall in London by Allies and Morrison The judges noted ‘The Festival Hall has been restored to its original elegance and vitality. Rick Mather’s masterplan for the South Bank identified the potential for an office building between the hall and the railway line, which was the masterstroke at the root of the transformation. By moving all the administrative offices into this new office building, Allies and Morrison were able to liberate many of the internal spaces previously used as offices. They have restored the legibility and essence of the original architecture and re-established the Festival Hall as a major international venue. On the river facade, a dingy service road has been transformed into an elegant parade of restaurants and shops. With landscaping by Gross Max, the river terrace is proving to be a successful urban space’. Gateshead Heritage by Gateshead Council Design Service St Mary’s Church, which sits high above the River Tyne close to The Sage Gateshead, re-opened in December 2008 following a £1.2 million transformation, funded by Gateshead Council, the European Regional Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, into Tyneside’s newest visitor attraction. The interior of the Grade I listed church has been completely stripped out to return it as far as possible to its former state. It is now open to the public with a programme of exhibitions and activities. The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea by John McAslan and Partners For anyone who lamented the De La Warr Pavilion’s sad appearance for most of the last few decades, it was exhilarating in 2008 to rediscover the building in what appeared to be its pristine state. Externally, a huge amount of care was taken in the detail and specification of glazing, ironmongery and surface finishes to ensure that what one sees now is as close as possible to the intentions of the architects of the original building. Inside the building the dilemmas were still more testing and the judgements made were generally astute and intelligent. The re-opening of the eastern roof terrace and the conversion of the ground floor restaurant into a good quality gallery space are particularly welcome. The Crown Estate Conservation Award The Crown Estate Conservation Award is given to the best work of conservation which demonstrates successful restoration or adaptation of an architecturally significant building. The judges look to award a scheme which demonstrates one of the principal tenets of the Crown Estate and this award: that conservation is the practical art of making yesterday’s buildings work for today’s society. The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, John McAslan and Partners (Photo: Peter Cook)