Unanimous vote for Ditchling Museum

Monday 17 Mar 2014

Adam Richards Architects receives the 2013 WAN Adaptive Reuse Award for the reinvention of an old British school house

The selection for the winner of the Adaptive Reuse award 2013 culminated in a heated discussion amongst the panel once they had narrowed down the shortlist to their final two projects. The highly popular Ditchling Museum battled it out against the Maritime Museum and The Lucky Shophouse. However as the discussion developed it was clear that the judges had made their minds up in a unanimous vote. The winner of the 2013 WAN Adaptive Reuse Award is the Ditchling Museum (UK) by Adam Richards Architects.

This year's Adaptive Reuse jury panel was formed of John Assael (Assael Architecture), Harbinder Singh-Birdi (Hawkins\\Brown), Simon Gill (Simon Gill Architects) and Matthew Woodthorpe (MWAI).

The Ditchling Museum was the first to be picked out of the shortlist. John Assael began the conversation with his nomination of the project, commenting: "I think this project is pretty special. What makes it really special is the cleverness of the way he’s has found forms for the new bits which really make the old. It is fantastic." The panel was quick to agree, with Matthew Woodthorpe highlighting ‘the simile in the building and how they have found references to the existing form'.

‘Fantastic’ was a popular word used in the conversation with all judges using the term to describe the Ditchling Museum at least once. There was concern with the contrast in the size of the projects on the shortlist however Matthew Woodthorpe pointed out that ‘with a smaller project, they’ve had the chance to get into every little detail and really bring out the magic in it'.

The Lucky Shophouse in Singapore by Chang Architects was also pulled out the shortlist for its attention to detail and consideration for the existing fabric of the building, however though both projects were of a similar scale, the Ditchling Museum won this battle after Harbinder Birdi pointed out that ‘the consideration is such a different palette; it takes way more experience and understanding to come up with it'.

The other project to be suggested for the title was the Danish Maritime Museum in Helsingor by Bjarke Ingels Group for the design team's ‘endless effort and commitment'. However when the two projects were placed side by side Simon Gill concluded that though the Danish Museum is ‘immediately striking...it’s much more difficult to achieve what Adam Richards has achieved’ with the Ditchling Museum.

The discussion drew to a close with all four judges in agreement that the winner was Adam Richards Architects. "He’s so unafraid of symmetry, which most people shy away from yet he understands the power of it," concluded Simon Gill.

Congratulations to Adam Richards Architects on winning the 2013 WAN Adaptive Reuse Award.

Jessica Tang

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