Effectiveness Award winner announced

Gillett Square courtesy of Hackney Co-Operative Developments

07/11/2012 Written by: Gill Sincock

Architects Hawkins\Brown have been voted the winner of this year’s BuroHappold sponsored WAN Effectiveness Award. Their stunning scheme for Gillett Square in Dalston, London which represents local cultures and has spearheaded improvement throughout the community was deemed a prime example of effective architecture by the expert judging panel lead by Gavin Thompson, Head of Strategic Development at BuroHappold.

The team at Hawkins\Brown has been involved with the project since the 1990s when they addressed the needs of Dalston by conceptualising a central square which would serve the needs of all community groups. In 1998 funds became available for masterplans to be drawn up and the vision started to become a reality.

Multicultural and buzzing with creative industries and community groups, a key aspiration was to retain the character of Dalston’s Gillett Square site, which involved retaining and renovating a number of buildings as well as bringing some derelict structures back to life.

A derelict car park was transformed into a new town square, supplying open-air space for public performances and teaching. Hawkins\Brown also constructed retail facilities for local businesses as well as arts and voluntary organisations, opening them up to the community by placing them around the lively central square.

On winning the award Morrag Morrison of Hawkins\Brown said “Gillett Square has been a catalyst for social, cultural and economic regeneration in the East End of London for nearly 20 years and Hawkins\Brown and their clients Adam Hart and HCD are delighted that it has recognised by the WAN Effectiveness Award.”

Binh Duong School in Binhduong, Vietnam designed by Vo Trong Nghia, Co. Ltd was also one of the shortlisted projects that really resonated with the judging panel. This private school sits on a 5,300 sq m site within a forest and looks to become a prototype for suburban schools in a tropical climate.

However while the project made quite an impact it was just piped by HawkinsBrown’s Gillett Square for the title as the judges felt that the latter made a stronger case for effective architecture.

Gavin Thompson concluded: "There is a dazzling array of awards that recognise achievement in the built environment. Many originate from the various bodies that represent the different design, consulting and construction communities that are involved in realising projects. But very few awards tackle the area of effectiveness - the post occupancy analysis of the area where inspirational design meets utility.

"Unlike say manufacturing, the built environment design community still operates largely on an open loop. The exploration of the success or otherwise of a design post occupancy, both to fine tune the finished product and to learn for future designs, still remains somewhat patchy. Which is why we at BuroHappold sought, through WAN, to devise and sponsor the Building Effectiveness Awards to explore the impact a design for a building or group of buildings has had on those who use them, from individual occupants to communities.

"It's taken a while for the concept of effectiveness to embed; we are not simply looking for aesthetic architectural design quality, we are looking for hard evidence that architecture is contributing positively to the activities within and around each building. But I am delighted to say that since its inception three years ago the standard and range of entries has grown year on year.

"I am delighted that this year's winner, Gillett Square by Hawkins\Brown, is proving that a radical intervention in the urban landscape of Dalston has delivered a positive effect for the entire community. The runners up also provided excellent examples of design effectiveness, some on incredibly tight budgets. A real inspiration for us all!"

The judges were Gavin Thompson, BuroHappold: Graham McClerments, BDP; Christina Seilern, Studio Seilern Architects: Mark Reddington, LMN Architects: Peter Gluck, Peter Gluck and Partners in New York.

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