Nottingham architecture student wins national building conservation award

The winner of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings’ Philip Webb Award 2020 is a beautifully-executed proposal to reinvigorate a block of buildings in the centre of Nottingham.

First place was awarded to University of Nottingham 2020 graduate Jess Tyson. Spurred on by the climate emergency, Jess’s project challenges why so many buildings sit vacant or are earmarked for demolition when redevelopment through imaginative new design could give them a new lease of life.

Jess, 24, chose three sites in Nottingham city centre – all with distinct characters and in various conditions – and reimagined them as a community arts centre. The scheme looked at the Grade-II listed 1888-built Nottingham Guildhall; the Art-Deco inspired fire station; and the 1954 ‘island’ building that extends the Guildhall. Jess visualised them as a cultural hub for local communities to enjoy while celebrating the existing architecture and history of the site.

Judges commended Jess for her focus on sustainability and her exciting elements of new design.

Founded by William Morris in 1877, the SPAB is Britain’s oldest building conservation charity. It was established in response to the work of Victorian architects whose enthusiasm for harmful restoration caused irreparable damage. Today the SPAB encourages excellence in new design to enrich and complement the built historic environment.’*

The SPAB’s Philip Webb Award is open to all Part 2 architecture students in the UK. The Award recognised the importance of retaining existing buildings over demolition and the inventive reuse of old buildings can have on sustainability in the construction industry and for community cohesion. Jess beat six other finalists in the competition.

Tim Collett, who oversees the University of Nottingham MArch Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) course, helped Jess over the summer (via Teams) to hone her design thesis ready for submission to the Phillip Webb Award.

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