There were fewer nominations this year - a reflection of more
straitened times in Britain. But it was one of the most enjoyable
Awards evenings of recent years. Perhaps holding the event in St
Peter's Church was one reason for the bigger attendance (120). It
is often said that parking is a problem on the Waterfront, but there
are probably more opportunities to park quite close to the church
than there are near the Town Hall where we were last year.
Bob Allen, ex-Chairman of the Society and now one of our Vice-
Presidents, did us proud. For an hour or so and speaking without
notes, he described and commented on the fifteen nominated
schemes. Not being one of the judges, he could adopt a neutral
attitude in most cases, presenting the pros and cons and thus
encouraging listeners to think for themselves and allowing the final
decisions to contain some element of surprise. What follows here
is a selection in jottings of some of his comments. I hope I've not
James Hehir Building, Orwell Quay i.e. the second main building
for University Campus Suffolk. "A striking and definite" addition
to the Waterfront and already a welcome part of the university's
facilities. Worthy of its site. Yet, "could it be a Lego building or a
computer-drawn abstract or 3D modem art?"
Aspire, new flats in St George's Street/ Bedford Street. Better
than the garage that existed here but is it good enough? Gables and
what appear to be sash windows could be appealing. But a bland
flank wall in St George's Street and clumsily matched roofline in
Foxhall Road, six new houses on site of Blooming Fuchsia
PH. A pastiche Victorian terrace. "Has architecture lost its way?"
or is it what customers want? Good quality brickwork. Seems
as if there is "more window frame than glass." Proportions of
fenestration odd and curious Doric porch at end.
120 Spring Road, new pair of semi-detached houses. In scale
with neighbouring houses. Standardised windows look jammed in.
Tydeman Close, Woodbridge Road, new flats next to the large
Vista development. Some "bravery" in design which differentiates it
from the "architectural frenzy" of Vista. Good to see garden sheds
in little gardens.
New detached house in garden of 65 Christchurch Street. Bay
window and .Suffolk White' bricks to echo the old house next door.
Is it good enough for a fine Victorian street?
14 Dalton Road, new detached house. Makes a positive impact
on the street scene. Windows appropriately recessed, but door case
Handford House, Cumberland Street, new care home,
Featureless approach from the street. A large development which
could be "a place of comfort." A curious little porch.
Fore Street/Duke Street, new paving scheme. Looks better
than the original roundabout. Pleasing simplicity and curving steps.
Unfinished? - a vacant plinth (waiting for the next addition like
Trafalgar Square's?) and two trees still to come.
Coe's, Norwich Road, redevelopment of shop front. Plain,
simple self-announcement. Not pretending to be a Victorian shop.
Relates well to the higher new southern end.
Railway station, new passenger footbridge and lifts. Valuable
function. Echoes the Victorian station in its brick towers (blue
engineering bricks, 'Suffolk Whites' and reds). But why such weak
angled roofs on towers and awkward lintels?
Grimwade Street, 'Goals' football centre. Again, a valuable
function, but "a missed opportunity to construct a real showcase"
on this prominent site. Awkward projecting air conditioning and
poor cladding on balcony.
Thomas Wolsey Statue, St Peter's Street. Good to
commemorate Wolsey at last. A face of "wisdom and experience".
Some find it inspiring - the extended hand of a man keen on
education. Others unsure about the long garment and his seated
posture. But good to have some disagreement because it's
not "bland or featureless." [Dr Blatchly points out Wolsey is wearing
the 'cappamagna' which was 16 feet long, the weight carried by 2-4
East Anglian Children's Hospice, St Augustine's Gardens,
a new building called The Treehouse. Landscape has been
incorporated into the design. Wood cladding is "not just a fad."
Windows related to children's presence. "Architecture is important
in creating a sense of joy and welcome."
277 Cavendish Street, wooden insulation of gable
end. "Intrigued" by this addition. An alternative to internal cladding
which reduces space.
So, we awaited the results of the Judges' deliberations. Such
a variety of schemes in size and purpose! The decisions were
announced as follows:
AN AWARD OF DISTINCTION for The Treehouse Children's
Hospice. "Uses the site brilliantly."
Client: East Anglian Children's Hospices (EACH) Design: Barefoot
and Gilles, Architects Contractor: Barnes Group Ltd, Barnes
A HIGH COMMENDATION for the Wolsey Statue. "Welcome and
Client: Dr John Blatchly, Chair of Patrons of Wolsey Statue. Design:
David Annand, Sculptor Contractor: Ipswich Borough Council
A COMMENDATION for Coe's new shop front - "A well designed
building of 21st century architecture."
Client: Coe's Design: Poole and Pattle, Architects Contractor: D C
A COMMENDATION for the James Hehir Building, DCS. "A striking
Client: DCS Design: RMJM Architects Contractor: Wilmott Dixon
The Mayor, Councillor John Le Grys, presented the awards. Jack
Chapman, the Society's Chairman, thanked the Committee, Bob
Allen and the panel of judges. Most members, I suspect, were
happy with these decisions. But in any case, they proceeded to
enjoy some excellent food and wine! Let's hope there'll be some
interesting nominations next year despite the recession, so keep
your eyes open.