Building Beauty Awards has unveiled the 2023 finalists of Britain’s most beautiful new buildings, engineering structures and urban landscaping schemes.
The finalists have been selected by a prestigious judging panel chaired by ‘design guru’ Stephen Bayley. Panellists include architectural commentator Paul Finch OBE; founding principal of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands Architects Alex Lifschutz; BAFTA award-winning artist, photographer and filmmaker Alison Jackson; co-founder of the interdisciplinary engineering practice AKT II Professor Hanif Kara OBE; and acclaimed postmodern architect Piers Gough CBE.
The awards are sponsored by property developer Ballymore and were founded in 2022 by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust in a bid to celebrate beauty in the built environment. This year’s awards will be held in the Sea Containers House amphitheatre on Friday 10 November, and presented by Sir Ben Okri, the Booker Prize-winning author.
There will be a winner for each of the four categories, in addition to an overarching winner who will receive a £12,000 prize. The overall winner will also become the UK entry for the International Building Beauty Prize at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore at the end of November.
The finalists are:
One Silk Street, Manchester (Mecanoo Architecten for Northern Group). A mixed-use development in the Ancoats area of Manchester, encompassing a variety of housing and commercial facilities and breathing new life into an historic quarter of the city.
Barking Riverside Station, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (WW+P for TFL/Barking Roverside Ltd). A railway station that serves variously as gateway, anchor and beacon, setting the tone for a huge development site on the Thames that will eventually contain 11,000 homes but which at the moment sits almost empty apart from this building.
Bayside, Worthing, Sussex (Allies & Morrison for Roffey Homes). A beachside property at the eastern end of Regency Worthing and forming an exclamation mark that harmonises well with the white stucco of the seafront terraces. It’s been noted as "a worthy replacement for the depressing 1960s swimming pool that previously occupied the site and which, ironically, turned its back on the sea".
The Engineering Award shortlist includes Cody Dock Rolling Bridge, London E16 (Price & Myers Structural Engineers with Thomas Randall-Page for Gasworks Dock Partnership and Woolbeding Glasshouse, Midhurst, Sussex (Heatherwick Studio for the Woolbeding Charity – 2022). The rolling bridge is a pedestrian bridge, made from weathering steel and oak, is manually rolled to allow boats to pass. It is as much a piece of sculpture and a diverting spectacle as a functional bridge.
The Woolbeding Glasshouse is a unique kinetic glasshouse set on the edge of the National Trust’s Woolbeding Gardens.The movement of the sepals, opening slowly as the petals of a plant might in response to light, makes it an object of delight.
The Public Space Award will be won either by Battersea Power Station Public Realm, London SW11 (LDA Design for Battersea Power Station Development Company) or Elephant Park, Elephant & Castle, London SE17 (Gillespies for Lendlease. Battersea Power Station was rescued from the throes of dereliction to start a new life as a leisure and retail destination. Elephant Park is a project that brings genuine, lasting improvements to the public realm in a neighbourhood that has come close in the recent past to being an urban dystopia, blighted by gargantuan, oppressive post-war developments.
Contesting for the The Little Gem Award is Angel Yard, Edmonton, London N18 (Jan Kattein Architects for Enfield Council) and Pavilion, Oriel Plas Arts Centre, Llanbedrog, North Wales (Sanderson Sculpture / Mark Wray Architects / Fold for Plas Glyn-y-Weddw).
Angel Yard is a temporary ensemble, creating small affordable workspaces on a microscopic budget, that manages to create beauty in a deprived locality on the cusp of redevelopment. The two-storey work units with their barrel-vaulted ceilings have replaced derelict garages.
The Pavilion is a creative addition to a small country house that now serves an arts centre. This petite café replaces a pedestrian conservatory.