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The WaterSHED wins ‘School of the Year’ @ AJ Awards

The Architects’ Journal has revealed the winners of this year’s AJ Architecture Awards’ which celebrate the very best in architecture across the UK.

The expert judges, who visited every shortlisted scheme over the summer, included Kirsten Lees of Grimshaw, Biba Dow of Dow Jones and engineer Webb Yates co-founder Steve Webb. Also on the judging panel were Sumita Singha, Daisy Froud and former AJ architecture editor Laura Mark.

In addition to stand-out design, the judges considered how each project met or exceeded its brief, how it promoted client or community engagement and how it excelled in the use of space or sense of place. They also analysed what sustainability measures have been put in place.

An innovative approach to repurposing a dilapidated former school sports hall in Rochdale creates a test-bed for new forms of teaching and social learning. The new facility allows the Watergrove Trust to meet an urgent demand for school places and enables students to learn in more self-directed ways than are possible in the existing school.

In direct response to the client brief, the multidisciplinary team, which included executive architect K2 Architects, took a holistic, low-carbon approach to the refurbishment, minimising alteration of the existing building fabric and maximising offsite construction, standardising panel sizes to reduce waste and using natural materials wherever possible.

On a tight budget, the WaterSHED project creates a community space in the heart of the school, and it’s making such a difference. The completed project is a lean, sustainable and imaginative re-use of an existing asset.

AJ Judging Panel