In a series celebrating BD’s Architect of the Year finalists, we look at the public building shortlist

Last month BD announced all the architects who made it on to the shortlists for our prestigious annual Architect of the Year Awards.

Now we are shining the spotlight on each category in turn and publishing a selection of the images that impressed the judges.

Today’s shortlist is Public Building Architect of the Year Award


SimpsonHaugh chose three projects to demonstrate its breadth of public building work. Completed last year, Queen Elisabeth Hall is a 2,000-seat auditorium, foyers and conference centre on an important cultural site in Antwerp, Belgium. In Manchester, the practice transformed the grade II* Town Hall Extension and created a new Library Walk entranc. While in Lithuania, it is a finalist in a competition to design the Kaunas Science and Innovation Centre.


AL_A’s entry features two of its recently completed museum projects that have incorporated major new public spaces: the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Exhibition Road Quarter and Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, where the roof forms a new public square for the city. Central Embassy in Bangkok demonstrates how the practice introduces spaces for the public into otherwise commercial developments.

Carl Turner Architects

The practice has entered two major developments in Peckham, south-east London. Due to complete this year, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts is its biggest public project to date and will include public spaces such as a restaurant, café and rooftop bar. At former car park Peckham Levels, seven of the empty levels have been converted into a mixed-use creative campus with both working and social spaces. 

Bennetts Associates

The practice describes the buildings in its entry as strongly rooted in their towns and cities, and carrying the collective memory of their surrounding communities. All transform elements of existing buildings. In Chester, the 1936 Odeon has become part of a new Storyhouse cultural centre while, in Glasgow, the practice is refurbishing the historic Citizens Theatre. In Woolwich, former arsenal buildings are being transformed into the Woolwich Creative District.

Hawkins Brown

Hawkins Brown has been working with Hackney council for more than 10 years to transform its town hall, while in Waltham Forest it has redesigned Epping Forest District Museum. As well as these local authority projects, the practice is creating public space within private projects, including its revamp of the Royal College of Surgeons in Westminster, which will incorporate a reinvented, more accessible Hunterian Museum.

Haworth Tompkins

Haworth Tompkins’ entry features three theatres and a church. Bridge Theatre near Tower Bridge is London’s first new commercial theatre of scale to be built for 80 years. The practice has completed a £4.3m refurbishment of the Bush Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush and is working on a transformation of Bristol Old Vic. In north London, it has planning permission for a radical redevelopment of Holy Trinity church on Finchley Road.

Cartwright Pickard

Cartwright Pickard has recently completed the £25m refurbishment of Lambeth Town Hall, a grade II landmark Edwardian building in Brixton. The project increased public access and community use in addition to providing a modern, energy-efficient and sustainable council workspace. It has also completed the Boilerhouse, a new café pavilion and event space for Royal Holloway, University of London, within the curtilage of the grade I Founders Building.


dRMM has entered Maggie’s Oldham and Hastings Pier, two public projects which, it says, put the needs of the many first in innovative, beautiful and sustainable ways. Built in the grounds of the Royal Oldham hospital, Maggie’s Oldham is the first tulipwood CLT building in the world. The Stirling Prize-winning Hastings Pier aimed to redefine the pier for the 21st century and act as a catalyst for regeneration.

 The awards will be held at Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster Bridge in central London on April 18. Book your place here