Dezeen Magazine

Image of the gymnasium at Holborn House

RIBA names best reuse architecture projects of 2023

The RIBA has named the four UK projects shortlisted for its inaugural Reinvention Award, including a school in Warwickshire and a museum in east London.

Projects by Van Heyningen and Haward Architects (vHH), Wright & Wright Architects, 6a Architects and Associated Architects with Rodney Melville and Partners are in the running for the inaugural Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Reinvention Award.

VHH's Houlton School in Warwickshire was created from the conversion of a Grade II-listed radio transmitter building, with three new school buildings arranged around a central courtyard.

Houlton School by Van Heyningen and Haward Architects
A Warwickshire school in a former radio transmitter building by Van Heyningen and Haward Architects is among the shortlisted projects. Photo by James Brittain

In Hackney, Wright & Wright Architects renovated and extended the Museum of the Home, which occupies Grade I-listed historic almshouse buildings and public garden.

A community gym in central London named Great Things Lie Ahead was formed out of the refurbishment and extension of an existing facility in Holborn House by 6a Architects in collaboration with artist Caragh Thuring.

Associated Architects and Rodney Melville and Partners adapted a dilapidated brewery into a new building for the University of Wolverhampton School of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Museum of the Home by Wright & Wright
Wright & Wright Architects renovated the historic Museum of the Home in east London. Photo by Hufton + Crow

RIBA president Simon Allford said the four projects "all demonstrate that the architecture of reinvention requires immense talent, vision and creativity".

Part of a growing trend in architecture towards celebrating the renovation of existing buildings over new builds driven by concern about embodied carbon, the RIBA Reinvention Award aims to recognise creative reuse projects.

It seeks to highlight that reuse projects can not only increase the longevity and energy efficiency of existing buildings reducing the need for new construction, but also deliver social and economic benefits.

Holborn House by 6a Architects
Great Things Lie Ahead, Holborn House (also top) was designed by 6a Architects and artist Caragh Thuring. Photo by Johan Dehlin

"The careful husbandry of existing resources – including buildings – has a long and noble, if recently forgotten, architectural history that we are relearning, and fast," said Allford.

"This award demonstrates that breathing new life into beloved old buildings can reap huge rewards for their users and our planet."

"I hope that this inaugural award will act as a catalyst, inspiring others to take up the retrofit challenge and that we will see many more exciting and ambitious examples in the future," Allford added.

The shortlist was selected from winners of the 2023 RIBA Regional Awards by a judging panel comprising Allford, Studio PDP partner Marion Baeli and former BBC energy and environment analyst Roger Harrabin.

University of Wolverhampton School of Architecture and the Built Environment
Associated Architects and Rodney Melville and Partners converted an old brewery into a new university building. Photo by Ben McPhee

To be eligible, studios had to demonstrate how their reuse project had improved the existing building or structure by achieving outcomes from the RIBA Sustainable Outcomes Guide.

The winner will be announced at the ceremony for the RIBA Stirling Prize, given to the UK's best new building, on 19 October at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.

Last week the RIBA also unveiled the shortlist for its 2023 Neave Brown Award for Housing.