Biennial awards

The Westminster Society Awards are bestowed for good architecture of social, cultural or civic importance, for restorations that enhance attractiveness and public usefulness, for significant contributions to urban vitality and congeniality, and for imaginative creations that make urban life and work more pleasurable.

In announcing our awards for works typically completed in Westminster in the preceding two years, we do so believing that they have splendidly met our elevated criteria, and are worth the admiring contemplation of anyone who values what makes cities wonderful.

Because the pandemic made visiting nominated awards candidates difficult, no awards were made in 2021. The awards programme will resume in 2022.  


Winners and their citations in 2019

For Architecture ex aequo:
Westminster Abbey for 
Access Tower to the Triforium, Westminster Abbey SW1 – The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, Clients. Ptolemy Dean, Surveyor of the Fabric, Architect 

A Basilica’s Triforium is essentially structural, providing horizontal bracing for a lofty nave. Westminster Abbey’s Triforium was virtually inaccessible until funds were raised to make it a public space. The dazzling design that now gets us to it is the Weston tower—a seven-storey sparkler that is beyond contextual: a rich polymorphic design for the ages. Lying in an external niche of the abbey, it confutes its bashful semi-concealment.

For Architecture ex aequo:
Riverwalk, Millbank SW1. Ronson Capital Partners, Clients. Stanton Williams, Architects

Ranged in two residential buildings on a podium, Riverwalk is expressed as curve-ended forms, with tangent curved balconies that provide graceful exterior spaces. Its individual site on the embankment just downstream from Vauxhall Bridge is skilfully used to include a small  public park, as Riverwalk presents itself in restrained but organic splendour.

For Renovated Architecture ex aequo:
The “Open Up” Improvements, Royal Opera House, Bow Street WC2. The Royal Opera House, Clients. Stanton Williams, Architects

Of the many recent design and functional improvements at The Royal Opera house, top billing belongs to the new entrance loggia that provides better access while intimating the “opening up” of Paul Hamlyn hall; and the brilliantly comfortable  auditorium redesign for the miles-deep Linbury theatre, with a well-devised cascade of linked audience spaces on the way down. A superlative reconception.

For Renovated Architecture ex aequo:
New and Transformed Performance Spaces, Practice Studios and Control Rooms at the Royal Academy of Music, NW1. The Royal Academy of Music of the University of London, Clients. Ian Ritchie, Architects

A rebuilding project embodying multiple advanced technical skills, the infill difficulties alone in accommodating the new music theatre, recital hall, practice studios and circulation routes must have required ein zauberschuhlöffel [a magic shoehorn] to fit them into the grade ii listed institution. Renovated architecture of very high distinction is the laudable, audible result.

For Urban Design:
Leadership in Principled Opposition to the Siting of the UK Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens. Barbara Weiss, activist architect; Nina Grunfeld, community leader, Rowan Moore, architectural critic

Building a U.K. Holocaust memorial that evokes the tragic past and warns about the future would be a superb achievement, if on an appropriate and adequately spacious site. When the site chosen was the small, protected and cherished Victoria Tower Gardens, and the selected design envisaged a theme park rather than a profound memorial, the three recipients of this award were leaders in concerned and cogent opposition to it. Sometimes the highest cultural obligation is a duty to oppose, and theirs merits acclamation.

For Contribution To Urban Vitality:
Lumière London, a Festival of Lights. The Mayor of London’s Deputy for Culture and the Creative Industries, Sponsor, and Artichoke, Producers

The Artichoke company began their shifting-site Lumière festivals in 2009 in Durham, inviting artists to publicly display expressions of light in darkest winter. For the 2018 Lumière London, over 50 works of art were displayed and buildings transformed by light in Westminster and other neighbourhoods. In honouring the ingenuity and imagination of its founding company, we hope that its alluring contributions to urban vitality will be perennial. 


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