2015 Awards

The First Year of the Design Awards

“In this first year there were 62 entries submitted by community groups which, in itself, is a remarkable indicator of the importance that communities attach to good design. These schemes, ranging from major Heritage Lottery Funded projects to smaller community initiatives, show that communities are keen to celebrate high quality design when they see it. The shortlisted entries clearly demonstrate communities’ desire to say ‘yes’ to development, when they have had a chance to participate in a meaningful way. Due to the high quality of entrants, we decided to award a winner and give three highly commended schemes in each category".  Max Farrell (Chair of the Civic Voice Design Awards Judging Panel)

See all of the Civic Voice Design Awards 2015 winners here.



Design Awards 2015 Overall Winner and New Build Winner: Gloucester Services Northbound

Glenn Howells Architects

Matson residents and community partners came up with the unique idea of making the M5 motorway immediately adjacent to Matson a route to income, training and employment for local communities by developing Gloucester Services into an embassy for Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire Gateway Trust teamed up with Westmorland, who own and run the only independent motorway services in the country, to deliver this vision.

The judges were unanimous in recommending Gloucester Services Northbound as winner of the New Buildings category and also the clear overall winner of the Civic Voice Design Awards 2015.

The project has taken what is usually the most dismal of buildings and developed it into a resource and showcase for local people, products and produce, boosting the local economy. It sets an outstanding vision for the design of motorway service stations for the future.

The vision the community have relentlessly pursued is utterly commendable. Its use of the surrounding rural landscape and farming community to improve employment, training and skills in neighbouring deprived communities has been an outstanding achievement. This is an amazing project, totally original, community led, well designed and commercially successful too. Gloucester Services Northbound is a fantastic precedent for strong community cooperative led design, which we hope is replicated across the country.

Nominated by Matson and Robinswood Residents Group and Stroud Civic Society


New Build

Highly Commended: Arundel Museum

Graham Whitehouse (GWP Architects Limited)

Arundel’s new museum is a huge community achievement, praised for its considered response both to local and visitor need and to its setting in terms of townscape and history. The project has maximised the available space and worked within a limited budget to produce a high quality and efficient design which ‘reaches out’ to the community and impresses with its social and environmental sustainability.

Nominated by Arundel Museum Trust


Highly Commended: North Hertfordshire College, Hitchin Campus

Clark Barton (Scott Brownrigg)

A lesson in how to create opportunity from a problem when a government grant was withdrawn. The solution was to re-use rather than replace the existing facility, delivering a high quality landmark and inspirational building, designed in close consultation with key stakeholders and students at the college. The scheme is highly commended for the College’s resilience, commitment and resourcefulness in making things happen. The standard of architectural design is exceptional, making the best use of existing structures, meeting the College’s educational needs and achieving an outstanding modern building.

Nominated by The Hitchin Society


Highly Commended: Holme Terrace Independent Residential Accommodation, Norwich

Cowper Griffith Architects

A thoughtful independent living scheme for the elderly, located in the grounds of The Great Hospital founded in the 13th Century. The scheme blends wonderfully into its very visually sensitive surroundings and is of a high quality and contemporary design, rare in this typology. A prime example of the subtle fusion of old and new, the attention to detailing and materials, including use of flint, rustic red brickwork in Flemish and stack bond, oak and Welsh slate, is to be celebrated.

Nominated by The Norwich Society



Winner: All Souls, Bolton

OMI Architects

An inspirational, ambitious and innovative regeneration project from the Churches Conservation Trust, ten years in the making, Grade II* listed All Souls in inner city Bolton has been transformed from a run-down and empty church, into a leading example of a modern community space fit for the 21st century. The judges felt it has “a really lovely community story; the person who was responsible for cleaning off graffiti on the building started the whole project and the local Muslim community has been behind it all the way.”

Consistent with the project’s commitment to the church’s unique 19th century architecture, an innovative ‘ship in a bottle’ design brings modern architecture into a heritage setting without compromising the historic fabric of the church.

The judges praised the utterly unapologetic modern installations, which are fun and work within the heritage setting. The Trust hopes that the award-winning design with its multi-purpose and multi-faith community use will become a national model for the 200 other inner city churches at risk. The judges felt that this was an inspirational project, with every success of being replicated across the country, and therefore had no hesitation in making it the overall winner in this category. 

Nominated by the Churches Conservation Trust


Highly Commended: Orangebox, Halifax

Philip Bintliff (Studio Baad)

A commitment to create ‘world class facilities for disengaged youth’ and an imaginative reworking of run down 19th century warehouses has produced Orangebox young people’s centre, a triumph of imagination, well-directed function and conservation on a constricted site. Planned collaboratively with the community, the architects have successfully given new life to utilitarian warehouses in a way that considerably improves and unifies them and harmonises with Halifax’s Grade I listed Piece Hall in the town centre conservation area.

Nominated by Halifax Civic Trust


Highly Commended: Portico, Chester

Donald Insall Associates

The EU funded Portico Project to repair and restore Chester’s medieval city walls is an excellent example of how brave modern additions of very high design quality can be successfully added to precious historic structures, significantly enhancing the heritage experience for visitors. The cumulative impact has been immense, bringing the city walls’ principal features back to life through structural restoration and improved access. A new Friends of Chester Walls group, which recruits volunteer guides, shows that good design can also lead to greater civic engagement.

Nominated by Chester Civic Trust


Highly Commended: Westgate Hall, Canterbury

Tim Ellis Conservation Architect

Built in 1913 by public subscription as a drill hall for the Territorial Army, Westgate Hall lies in the heart of Canterbury, a focal point of community memories. Facing demolition a century later, the Westgate Community Trust went into battle to save the Hall for its history, its role in Canterbury’s community life and the part it could play adapted to the needs of the 21st century. The Trust’s tenacity and success in creating clever partnerships with a commercial cinema group has seen an unremarkable building brought back to life and transformed into something quite special – a fantastic community amenity and art house cinema.

Nominated by the Canterbury Society


Public Realm

Winner: The Harbour Steps, Margate

East Kent Engineering Partnership and Mike Humber (Project Manager, Thanet District Council) Stepping up to the challenge of visitor decline and a resultant downgrade in environmental quality – Margate’s Harbour Steps sea defence scheme proves that you can turn functional into a feature by creating a stunning landmark which has helped transform the sea front, protects the town from sea flooding, and provides a meeting place for locals and visitors from which to savour Turner’s seascapes.

The judges had no hesitation in recognising The Harbour Steps for its exceptional design quality calling it “an outstanding example of successful integration of civil engineering and place making, which has made a real difference to the regeneration of Margate and has raised the standard of public realm within the town.” The sea front scheme is an exemplar for the rest of the country and is a well-deserved winner of the Public Realm category.

Nominated by Margate Civic Society

Judges Special Prize: ‘Slowing the Flow’, Pickering

Anthea Peters (Lead Designer, Arup)

Following a series of devastating floods, two Pickering & District Civic Society members waded in with Oxford, Durham and Newcastle Universities and hit on a winning solution to flood prevention by working with nature to ‘slow the flow’, storing water upstream to prevent it flooding the town. More a civic engineering project than public realm scheme, nonetheless, the judges felt it worthy of a special prize, calling it “an outstanding achievement for the society, who should be incredibly proud”. The judges felt that the scheme sets a precedent in presenting an innovative way of looking at the landscape as infrastructure and has huge potential to be replicated across the country in other flood threatened areas.

Nominated by Pickering & District Civic Society


Highly Commended: Cricket Green Landmarks, Mitcham

An imaginative community led scheme to restore three historic local landmarks; a milestone, a memorial stone and a horse trough which have all played a part in the story of Mitcham. Local heritage is preserved, celebrated and brought meaningfully to life by and for local people, inspiring a new generation to learn about and appreciate how the present is firmly rooted in the past. A model of how to involve volunteers in heritage and how small interventions can cumulatively make a huge difference.

Nominated by Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage


Highly Commended: Walpole Park, Ealing

J&L Gibbons

Funded by Heritage Lottery Parks for People Fund and Ealing Council, a neglected London park was the catalyst for the community to grow a flourishing new network, Walpole Friends, who planted and nurtured the seeds for the new found life of the park. With an educational facility, wild flower meadows, a kitchen garden and a bee keeping group, the park buzzes with life. It is now a contemporary community green space, which respects with real civic pride, the Park’s heritage and its roots in the past.

Nominated by Walpole Friends 


Resources from Civic Voice Design Awards 2015

You can find our blog post on the awards here

See the Design Awards 2015 brochure here