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The MacEwen Award 2016

31st January 2017

We were chuffed to be shortlisted for the RIBAJ MacEwen Award. A prize that sets out to recognise ‘architecture for the common good’.  That means places (and this includes open space as well as buildings, and refurbishments as well as new build) that are demonstrably of maximum benefit across society.  The RIBAJ seek out the good and the effective, rather than style statements. Places that improve people’s lives.

Our entry, was of course, for Collective Temperance Hospital…

‘A rough and ready, cheap and cheerful but valuable workspace has been created in a long-empty hospital planning blighted by the route of the HS2 railway.’


The wide range of entries prove that there are many different ways to serve the common good.  Not everything is community-based, for instance, though it is all community-minded.

The award is named after Malcolm and Anni MacEwen – he a campaigning former editor of RIBAJ, she a leading post-war town planner who took a conservation-based approach, both of them involved in rural as well as urban issues.  Malcolm changed the way the profession viewed itself, acted, and presented itself to the outside world – not least through his 1974 book “Crisis in Architecture”, admirably published by the RIBA itself and championed by this magazine.  Malcolm’s ‘J’Accuse’ was that the profession was in grave danger of becoming entirely self-serving, forgetting the people that places are actually for. Not any more.

One of the great things about the MacEwen Award – the RIBAJ’s annual search for the best examples of architecture for the common good – is that it brings forth localist projects from around the British Isles which do good things in a quiet way, often on rock-bottom budgets, that would very often not make the pages or websites of architecture magazines at all.

Descried as ‘more ethics, less aesthetics’ by the RIBAJ, which suits us perfectly…

Anyway, you can read more about the project, and Collective Temperance Hospital here.

And congratulations to the other 12 shortlisted projects, the two highly commended projects; Sheffield Foodhall and Rochester Roundhouse, and of course, the overall winner, The Point, by Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt Architects.

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