Design Awards: 2019

Royal Academy of Music, London

© Adam Scott

Architect
Ian Ritchie Architects

Structural Engineer
WSP

Main Contractor
Geoffrey Osborne Ltd

Client
Royal Academy of Music

This redevelopment of the world-renowned Royal Academy of Music (RAM) has totally transformed its existing theatre and back of-house facilities.

Structural interventions in the historic Grade II listed buildings included the demolition and replacement of the existing theatre superstructure, the addition of new cantilevered balcony seating, two substantial box frames through significant masonry walls, the introduction of a flytower (with main plant room above), an enlarged orchestra pit, insertion of new vertical circulation routes, and a box-in-box rooftop recital hall with its own glazed foyer.

All of this was achieved during a threeyear demolition and construction period without significant disruption to the life of the Academy which completely surrounds the site.

The ill-equipped and badly shaped existing auditorium theatre has been remodelled to provide a 40% increase in seating capacity in a contemporary, warm and inviting space optimised for musical and opera acoustics.

A slender cantilevered horseshoe 100- seat balcony has been introduced into the theatre, the structure of which mainly consists of an ingenious system of steel beams cantilevering off hidden two-storey steel columns which, in turn, sit on the existing stalls concrete bowl slab and are only laterally restrained at roof level to avoid overloading the slab below.

A striking feature ‘Mercator’ auditorium ceiling has been introduced to provide a visual focus and to maximise the acoustic volume of the theatre.

The Mercator roof and flytower are supported by a deep upstand plate girder to the rear of the balcony, and two novel hybrid storey-height combined steel trusses and plate girders. These give space at the edges of the spans at rooftop level for the circulation space and a plant room.

Above the redeveloped theatre, the opportunity was taken to add a new, partially exposed, steel-framed 100-seat flexible recital hall, entirely isolated acoustically from the surrounding structure. An attractive and unique system of exposed tension cables connected to steel moment frames are joined together at a torsionally stiff central round oculus, which transfers moment from one side of the centre of the roof to the other. The lateral thrusts of this semi-arching roof structure are resisted by 400mm SHS beams around the perimeter at eaves level.

The final piece of this complex structural jigsaw at roof level is the glazed-roof circulation space adjacent to the recital hall and flytower. Elegant tapered twin steel fins are supported by closely spaced stainless steel cables inspired by the aesthetics of string instruments.

Judges’ comment

A remarkably collaborative team of client, designers and contractors has delivered a spectacular new auditorium theatre in the heart of the listed campus building, and within the most constrained of live sites. A highly integrated design of the steel roof trusses has allowed the team to squeeze in a rooftop recital space without compromise to the auditorium below.

The Macallan Distillery


Architect
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Structural Engineer
Arup

Steelwork Contractor
S H Structures Ltd

Main Contractor
Robertson Construction

Client
The Macallan

Set into the landscape of the 18th Century Easter Elchies manor estate in Speyside Scotland, The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience is an advanced manufacturing facility which shares the same roof as a busy visitor centre. It is an exemplar of integrated design that remains sensitive to the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Steel is an integral part of the building. Steel ring beams and columns support the timber roof, curved steel process tables support the copper stills and discrete steel trusses bridge over the delivery road to provide fire egress and an incoming route for the primary materials used in production.

Judges’ comment

A portalised arrangement of steel ring beams and V-shaped columns supports the undulating roof, while the open mesh steel mezzanine floor wraps around the production plant, and is supported on a series of steel portals arranged on a circular grid. This demanded very close integration between steel erection and plant installation, yet was executed to a very high standard.

Greatham Creek Seal Hide, Middlesbrough

© Vicky Matthers

Architect
Abstract Machine (Leeds Beckett University)

Structural Engineer
BMMJV (BAM Nuttall/Mott MacDonald Joint Venture)

Steelwork Contractor
S H Structures Ltd

Main Contractor
BMMJV (BAM Nuttall/Mott MacDonald Joint Venture)

Client
Environment Agency

As part of a wider flood alleviation scheme in an area renowned for its wildlife, new seal and bird viewing structures enhance the project and encourage better and more frequent use of the area by the local community as well as other visitors.

A design competition working collaboratively with Leeds Beckett University graduates resulted in an innovative design using weathering steel to provide long lasting and low maintenance structures that would complement the industrial surroundings of the creek and the newly created intertidal habitat area whilst withstanding the harsh coastal environment. Perforated panels create dappled shadows inspired by seal markings.

Judges’ comment

An enlightened client, and an innovative response from architecture students at Leeds Beckett University, has resulted in two truly unique hide structures. The existing conventional wood hides had to be removed as part of a flood alleviation scheme. Their replacements are formed from sculpted weathering steel and provide a legacy to be enjoyed by visitors to this vibrant wildlife area.

G W Annenberg Performing Arts Centre


Architect
Studio Seilern Architects

Structural Engineer
PBA now part of Stantec

Steelwork Contractor
Advanced Fabrications Poyle Ltd

Main Contractor
Beard Construction

Client
Wellington College

This new prestigious theatre at Wellington College, one of the UK’s leading independent schools, is a stand-out project; one which has delivered a building that has become part of its natural surroundings, whilst providing an education space with the design and acoustics of a top UK theatre.

Seating 900 and forming the heart of the new ‘cultural quarter’ of the college, this unique theatre is circular and built into the gently sloping site. Inside, the 33m diameter roof spans over the auditorium where the curved plan of the building complements the arrangement of seating and structure around the focus of the stage.

Judges’ comment

This quietly assured and successful project is a credit to all involved. Resolution of the circular building form with the functional and acoustic requirements of the auditorium was impressive. The engineer and steelwork contractor have rationalised the project into a very economic steel solution, enabling the architectural intent to be realised.

Telford Central Footbridges

© Stuart Brown

Architect
Nicoll Russell Studios

Structural Engineer
Jacobs

Steelwork Contractor
S H Structures Ltd

Main Contractor
Balfour Beatty

Client
Telford & Wrekin Council

Linking the railway station and town centre, a pair of new footbridges provide a unique ‘gateway’ to Telford.

The overhead structure of the tied arch/trusses allows the suspended deck to be extremely thin. Glazed sides and an internal GRP soffit complete the clean uncluttered feeling. A stretched tensile fabric roof covering tapers down to a fish tail detail at each end, giving the bridges their distinctive appearance.

A complex and challenging project built on a small and restricted site crossing an important rail link and two busy inner ring roads has delivered an outstanding piece of functional urban architecture.

Judges’ comment

These new footbridges provide a modern sleek welcome to visitors arriving from the railway station. Crossing busy roads and a railway line on a tight site presented major challenges, but disruption was kept to a minimum and the judges were impressed with the team’s efforts to engage and involve the public, resulting in a proud sense of ownership by the local community.

160 Old Street, London


Architect
Orms

Structural Engineer
Heyne Tillett Steel

Steelwork Contractor
Bourne Steel Ltd

Main Contractor
Wates Construction

Client
Great Portland Estates plc

160 Old Street is a project which does more with less in every respect. The conversion a 1970s-built office building into a modern commercial scheme fit for the 21st Century involved the addition of 3 floors, infilling lightwells and extending all elevations to significantly increase the lettable floor area.

Using a lightweight steel composite solution to form the new upper floors, and internal zone, minimised the load increase on the existing frame and foundations.

Exposed soffits throughout create an attractive modern industrial warehouse environment. The building has been widely applauded as a thoughtful, intelligent, sustainable and efficient re-modelling of an existing site.

Judges’ comment

Lightweight steel solutions have maximised the value of this mid-20th Century commercial building with additions of up to three new storeys. The team devised creative framing details for extension of the floorplates integrated with the new façade systems. The designers actively engaged with academic experts to develop details and ensure the vibration performance of new lightweight floors.

Aga Khan Centre, London


Architects
Maki & Associates, Allies and Morrison

Structural Engineer
Expedition Engineering

Steelwork Contractor
Severfield

Main Contractor
BAM Construct UK Ltd

Clients
AKDN, Argent

The Aga Khan Centre is a place for education, knowledge and insight into Muslim civilisations. The structure therefore houses an unusual blend of education and office spaces, research, administrative and representational spaces, with six Islamic inspired gardens interwoven over the height of the building.

The architectural vision was for the monolithic stone-clad body of the building containing the main educational and office spaces to cantilever out over the glazed ground floor spaces that interface with the public realm. Steel was instrumental is realising this vision.

The Aga Khan Centre is a special building in use, appearance, and construction.

Judges’ comment

This self-effacing ten-storey building in the King’s Cross redevelopment is constructed to the highest quality with the greatest attention paid to fine detailing and materials. Passersby will be forgiven for remaining unaware of this store of treasures of Islamic art and literature, and the variety of internal and external spaces contained within this London centre for the Aga Khan Foundation.

Ely Southern Bypass


Architect
Knight Architects

Structural Engineer
Tony Gee & Partners

Steelwork Contractor
Severfield

Main Contractor
VolkerFitzpatrick Ltd

Client
Cambridgeshire County Council

The new bypass removes a significant amount of traffic from the station area, allowing better access to Ely’s historic city centre, business areas and the railway station itself.

The project includes a 100m-long twospan half-through bridge over a railway and a 300m-long geometrically complex, curved twin trapezoidal box girder viaduct over the River Great Ouse. Weathering steel was used for both structures to minimize future maintenance and to blend into the rural setting.

A cantilever walkway with viewing platform on the north side of the viaduct links two footpaths providing visitors and residents of Ely with a circular route and improved social connectivity.

Judges’ comment

The low-profile design of the two bridges sits comfortably within the fenland landscape. The palette of weathering steel and fair-faced concrete integrates the scheme well into its rural context. The inclusion of a public footway with the river crossing provides welcomed connectivity between the foot and cycle path network either side of the river.

Project Mint at The O2


Architect
CallisonRTKL

Structural Engineer
BuroHappold Engineering

Steelwork Contractor
Bourne Steel Ltd

Main Contractor
ISG

Clients
AEG, Crosstree

Project Mint, so-called because of the scheme’s likeness in shape to a Polo Mint, was the construction of a premium-focused outlet village around The O2 Arena, comprising 80-plus retail units arranged either side of a central street.

Requiring over 1,800 tonnes of steel in total, a two-storey element and a single storey element are separated by a movement joint with a row of double columns. The two steel-framed retail elements are stand-alone structures deriving no stability from the original steelwork malls, roof or arena, but instead relying on new concrete lift and stair cores. Both are nominally based around 7.5m column spacings.

Judges’ comment

Project Mint completes the ring of tenant units surrounding The O2 Arena and was designed and installed around the steel masts and tie wires that support the tented dome structure. The project utilises a steel structure originally constructed in 2006 for a super casino, demonstrating the versatility of steelwork and minimising waste.

Kettner’s Townhouse & Soho House Greek Street

 

Architect
Studio of Design & Architecture (SODA)

Structural Engineer

EngineersHRW

Main Contractor

In House Design & Build Ltd

Client

Soho Estates Ltd

A mixture of refurbishment and new-build construction, the original Soho House on Greek Street has been expanded and remodelled, while simultaneously revitalising the iconic Kettner’s Restaurant with the addition of a new 33-bedroom boutique hotel above.

The scheme began with renovating an entire block of existing Georgian townhouses. The central courtyard area was cleared, and a two-storey basement created prior to the construction of a new-build, steelframed pavilion.

Access into the courtyard for steel erection was challenging, with only a single ground floor opening of 2.5m x 2.8m and road closures for crane use severely limited due to the central Soho location.

Judges’ comment

The project remodels an entire block within the Soho Conservation area, including no less than 11 listed buildings. At the centre of the development is a bronze clad steel pavilion that creates visual and physical links, whilst providing extensive opening to maximise natural light. Construction sequencing was vital due to the confined nature of the site.