We are extremely happy to have been longlisted for Dezeen Awards 2020, Architect of the Year. In its third year, the Dezeen Awards honours the best of architecture and design from across the world, and we are honoured to have been considered for this year’s awards.
Despite Covid 19 restrictions, it has been a great year for ABA. We have won major new housing projects by design competition in Stratford, Hackney and Moscow, and have gained city permits for our largest project to date for a mixed use city block in Vancouver. The first phase of our work in Eddington reached completion, and we continue to develop detailed design proposals for a second project for this innovative new sustainable town extension in Cambridge. Meanwhile detailed design for Cadence in King’s Cross has continued after ABA were novated to Laing O’Rourke, and 1 Ashley Road has started construction. Work continues on York Castle Museum, a project that we won at competition last year, and we recently made the longlist to design the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
We wish all the other fantastic studios on this year’s longlist the best of luck with the award.
Athena Phase 1, part of the University of Cambridge’ ambitious new Eddington city quarter, a benchmark in urban sustainability, has been nominated for the Best Sustainable Development at the British Homes Awards. We have designed this project with Pollard Thomas Edwards and Aecom for Hill Group.
Unique measures are integrated into every aspect of our developments at Athena to encourage residents and visitors to lead more sustainable lives. This means using resources in a safe and efficient way, minimising carbon emissions and pollution to help the environment now and in the future. In addition, the design process ensures wildlife and biodiversity are encouraged across the development, as well as extensive travel planning and advice to minimise the use of personal motor vehicles. We have engaged thirteen sustainable design principles, based on the internationally recognised “One Planet Living” criteria, which have been used to guide the design and development of the scheme, which prioritises passive energy, as well as the social and cultural implications of collective sustainable living.
This week, the fourth International Workshop of the MCH 2020 in Madrid is led by Alison Brooks, assisted by Architect Alejandro de Miguel. Students have a week to deliver a proposal for The Post-Pandemic Tower: Re-useable Urban Ecosystem
This project is about re-imagining Madrid’s most iconic tower, the Torres de Colon, as a radically sustainable, inclusive and uplifting place to live in the context of two current global crises: the Climate Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. These two crises have forced us to re-think the nature of how we live, how we consume, how we relate and how we work. Homes have become not only our personal sanctuaries associated with leisure and ‘domesticity’, but in many cases, have revived the pre-industrial revolution norm of the home as workplace. Lockdowns and limits on our mobility have brought the neighbourhoods immediately around our homes into renewed focus. We see our neighbours more often, we are more dependent on our local services. We consume less and as a result we produce less waste. Our reduced mobility has allowed us to discover surprising new places locally; their details and qualities speak to us of the layered social, political and architectural history of cities. We’ve also seen with fresh eyes the ‘nature’ that is a fundamental part of our localities – plants, animals, insects, weather. All these discoveries are life-enhancing. They point toward our collective potential to formulate a new and better urban reality. They are also a catalyst for architects to reinvent the organisational, spatial and material conventions of urban housing.
ABA continue to develop a very strong portfolio of housing projects, which has been recognised in the shortlist for AYA2020 in the Housing category. Featured here is Athena in Eddington, a highly sustainable new town extension in Cambridge. We have also been nominated in the Individual House category. We completed two houses in the past year for private clients, Mesh House, and Windward House, and currently have another house in North London in for planning. More on this project soon.
ABA has a long track record of producing award-winning architecture for housing, and this past year has seen a variety of projects, of different typologies and tenure, reach key stages of development and completion. Our housing projects are variations of classic typologies: the palazzo, the mansion block, the skyscraper, the courtyard block, but we also strive to present them in contemporary and inventive ways.
Cadence is a pivotal building in the final stages of the development of the King’s Cross Masterplan for which we are currently developing detailed designs after being novated last year. Gloucester & Durham continues our work for the estate regeneration of South Kilburn. ABA has also seen the first stage of its work at Eddington in North West Cambridge reach completion at Athena, which represents a continuation of the very high-quality housing that this significant town extension for the University of Cambridge is becoming known for. The Passages, our largest housing project to date and our first in Canada, gained City permits in December. In addition, we have also seen the first phases of Mosaics, a mixed tenure green-field development on the outskirts of Oxford reach completion, and we have developed detailed designs for S3, another key site in the Eddington masterplan. 1 Ashley Road East, the first element of Argent Related’s regeneration project for Tottenham Hale is now on site, and we were successful at winning new work through international design competition, including a major high-rise landmark building at the International Quarter Stratford, and another estate regeneration project for Hackney at Lincoln Court.
A house project is like an essay – in a very succinct way, you can test ideas. At the scale of a house, a thesis or concept can be realised in a way that large more complex projects have difficulties achieving. The two projects that we have presented for this year’s award are the culmination of a long process of design development, conversation, and innovative construction. We have been lucky enough to have worked with two sets of private clients who’s interest and passion for architecture has metamorphosed into a close, supportive working relationship, resulting in two new houses of individual character; one in the Wye Value, and one in Belsize Park.
Alison Brooks is a Trustee of Open City, a charity dedicated to the idea that architecture and urban design must make our built environment more accessible and inclusive to everyone. In this article, she discusses the post-covid 19 period with optimism.
The reset button being pushed by the pandemic is a chance for human culture to change for the better. “Times of crisis can bring out the best in people. Inevitably, they make us see the world through a new lens. This coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the first time humanity is seeing the world through a common lens. Suddenly we’re all on the same side, acutely conscious of our interdependence.”
In an interview with Dezeen published last month, Alison Brooks also states that coronavirus is forcing architects to reconsider the importance of amenities like balconies and terraces, as well as space in general. “Whether or not there’s a pandemic, it’s really important to have those outdoor spaces,” she told Dezeen’s Marcus Fairs. “I think there’s going to be a value shift.”
Alison speaks to Dezeen in this live discussion with Marcus Fairs, as part of their Screentime interview series sponsored by Enscape, for the 2020 Viritual Design Festival.
In her discussion with Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, discusses the history of her practice, and the studio’s past and current projects. She answers questions relating to work and life during the coronavirus lockdown, housing in London and the politics of good design, and timber construction and embodied carbon.