International design award for academic architecture duo behind innovative Leeds community centre
26 January 2017 - Julia Williams
Two Leeds Beckett University Architecture lecturers have scooped an international design award for spearheading the development of an innovative multi-purpose building, which is enhancing the lives of the community who use it.
Academics, Simon Warren and Craig Stott, have led the New Wortley Community Centre (NWCC) project every step of the way since plans began in 2009, before taking it on as their first major commission after founding the University’s Project Office back in 2013. Guided by Project Office, Leeds Beckett University's School of Art, Architecture and Design (AAD) students were also instrumental. The community-run centre opened its doors last Autumn on Leeds’s Tong Road and houses services including a café, meeting rooms and a shop.
The duo will now reap the rewards of their vision and hard work following the announcement that Project Office has been named as one of two winners in the ‘Live Projects Network’ category of the prestigious 2017 Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Awards. They will travel to Portland State University in Oregon, USA, in April to present at the 17th annual Structures for Inclusion conference, where they will receive their award.
Simon commented: “We are astounded. Receiving this award from the live project community means that architecture live project work at Leeds Beckett is now becoming recognised internationally. Leeds Beckett University’s Project Office and students have been working with the New Wortley community for more than seven years to help realise this project. I think that the judges have understood and rewarded the collective commitment of all participants: it’s an award for all!”
Craig said: “Project Office’s main role was one of choreography, to ensure the work of many hands became a singular architectural statement. We had great fun, and support, working with our colleagues and students in Landscape Architecture, Graphics, Cultural Studies, Product Design and Architectural Technology who each designed discrete elements. The project would not have been possible without the hard work of all these people, and so this award is really testament to what can be achieved through collaborative design and team work.”
Project Office, which is run by Simon and Craig, was formed as an architectural consultancy and sits under the umbrella of Leeds Beckett University's School of AAD, giving students at the University a chance to work with real clients, producing built and strategic design solutions with a particular emphasis on ethical, social and resilient architecture.
A total of 196 people participated in the project. From New Wortley locals to multi-disciplinary undergraduates, postgraduates and staff from Leeds Beckett, plus professional consultants and contractors - all working together to bring the building to life, while being coordinated and led by Project Office.
The New Wortley community were highly engaged in design activities and brought local knowledge, practical assistance and support, entrepreneurial spirit and coordination to the project, while the contractors embraced the social endeavour of the project involving local people and students in collaborative design workshops, site visits and coordination of elements designed and built by the students into the fabric.
In a statement, the Awards Jury said: “The New Wortley Community Centre project has empowered all actors involved, realising their shared vision in a meaningful and sustainable way. The Project Office was key to this success, coordinating the energy and potential of both the community and Leeds Beckett University. We commend their evolution and implementation of such a coherent design strategy in a complex and fluid context.”
Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, said: “Everyone here at Leeds Beckett University is proud of the pioneering work of our University’s Project Office. Simon Warren and Craig Stott have led a talented team of students and staff in groundbreaking work. The New Wortley Community Centre is everything a building should be – functional, sustainable and beautiful. Their international award demonstrates very clearly the world class nature of the work undertaken at Leeds Beckett University.”