The winners have been announced for the South Downs National Park’s first Design Awards, recognising outstanding design projects in the first decade of the National Park.
Architects, local community representatives, designers, and planners gathered at the South Downs Centre today (12 Nov) for a special awards ceremony, which was also attended by Ian Tant, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
More than 60 nominations from across the National Park were received following the launch of the awards earlier this year. The awards celebrate innovative and inspirational projects that have made a standout contribution to the landscape, heritage, built environment and local communities of the National Park.
Today held special significance as it was exactly 10 years since the Secretary of State signed the National Park’s official designation.
The atmosphere in the Memorial Hall was one of anticipation, excitement, and joy as guests awaited the announcement of the winners.
The winner of the Non-Residential Category went to Ditchling Museum, in Ditchling, East Sussex. Judges said the scheme “showcases really thoughtful architectural design, respecting and connecting with its history and setting”.
In the Conservation Category, the winner went to King Edward VII Sanatorium, in Easebourne, West Sussex. Judges noted that there was “no finer example of conservation architecture” and “marveled at the consistency and attention to detail”.
The winner of the Residential Category was The Riverside House, in South Street, Lewes, East Sussex. Judges were impressed by the way the design team had “exploited this space to its full value, with a robust yet graceful building of high architectural merit”.
A special award for Innovation was given to Nithurst Farm, in Upperton, West Sussex. Judges remarked that the scheme “challenged perceptions” to the extent that it required its own award category. Judges said the scheme was “groundbreaking” and noted that it was a “bold and intellectual” building.
Meanwhile, more than 1,200 votes were cast for the People’s Choice Award, which included an online poll for the public’s favourite among 16 shortlisted schemes. The winning trophy went to Easebourne Community Space, in Easebourne, West Sussex. It was noted that the scheme was an “impressive mix of play area and habitat creation” and a fine example of the “power of using the National Park for health and well-being purposes”.
A number of schemes were also highly-commended or commended by the judges, which included members of the National Park’s Design Review Panel.
Commenting on the awards, Ian Tant said: “Design is a key theme for the Royal Town Planning Institute and our work this year.
“Put that alongside the fact that 2019 is also the 70th anniversary of the National Parks Act and the combination of National Parks and design are absolutely what the Royal Town Planning Institute is interested in. I’m absolutely delighted to be at the South Downs National Park’s first Design Awards and helping to take part in this ceremony.”
Tim Slaney, Director of Planning at the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “Given that this is our first go at Design Awards across the whole of the National Park, this has been a wonderful initiative and I’d like to congratulate all the winners at the event.
“The standard of the entries has been extremely high and I think it underlines the great appetite there is – whether you’re a planner, architect, or a resident of the National Park – for ‘excellent design’. Good design should pay homage to the stunning landscape we have in the South Downs and, crucially, enrich the local environment in which we live and work.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been part of these inaugural awards, including the many people who took the time to vote in the People’s Choice. We’re privileged to be able to accommodate these exemplary schemes into the landscape we all treasure.”
Margaret Paren, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “We believe that it is a privilege to build in a National Park. High-quality design matters to the National Park and to the local communities within it.
“These schemes demonstrate incredible innovation and creativity, using the diverse landscape as a compass for great design.
“With our Local Plan adopted earlier this year and setting the bar high for design excellence, it certainly bodes well for the future of the South Downs National Park.”
The full list of winners and those highly-commended and commended
Ditchling Museum, Ditchling – Award Winner
Depot, Lewes – Highly Commended
Brook House Studios, East Chiltington – Highly Commended
Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton – Highly Commended
King Edward VII Sanatorium, Easebourne – Award Winner
Gilbert White Museum, Selborne – Highly Commended
Buckmore Studios, Petersfield – Highly Commended
Hound Lodge, Goodwood – Highly Commended
South Street (The Riverside House), Lewes – Winner
Timberyard Lane, Lewes – Highly Commended
Black Cat Barn, Cocking – Commended
Nithurst Farm, Upperton – Winner
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
Easebourne Community Space, Easebourne – Winner
The Flint Barns, Rathfinny – Commended
Follers Manor Gardens, Alfriston – Commended
Alice Holt Visitor Centre, East Hampshire – Commended