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Architect cements a national prize
CONCRETE might not be what most people think of when they think of fine buildings.
But one Oxford architect will tell you differently after being told the East Oxford house he designed in concrete is the best in the country.
Adrian James has had his building in Hill Top Road named the overall winner at the Concrete Society Awards 2013.
He said: “It was a very good result. We were up against a lot of big buildings and there were some big-name architects there from London.
“There are some very nice concrete buildings in Oxford which most people don’t think of as being concrete, but it is an amazingly versatile material and you can do some nice things with it.
“Concrete has got a stigma attached to it and it is quite rare to use it as a finish material.
“Most clients shy away from it, but we jump at the chance to use it.”
Mr James runs tours of some of Oxford’s most impressive concrete buildings for Oxford Civic Society.
He says buildings such as Wolfson College and St Catherine’s College prove the material can be used for more than just ‘brutalist’ structures.
“There is a new appreciation of the brutalist architecture of the 1970s, but also the technology has moved on a long way since then and you can colour or texture concrete.
- The house’s interior
Hill Top House is a modern private house slotted between two older buildings.
The project was completed in 2011 and has also won a RIBA Downland award 2012 .
It was also shortlisted for the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize 2012, awarded to the best building in the country costing less than £1m.
Presenting the award to Mr James, the judges said: “This is an excellent use of precast concrete in a domestic application to produce a simplistic uncluttered construction.
“The front facade attempts to replicate the features of the adjoining dwellings in a modernistic interpretation of roof profile and bay windows. To the rear, large expanses of glass allow natural light to penetrate deep into the property. There are practically no services attached to the exposed precast, giving the concrete high prominence.”
The owners of the house declined to comment.
Other category winners included the new Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art and Design which won best education building.
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