Portsmouth School of Architecture (ARCH)
Second national win for student architect
Thu, 20 Jan 2011 09:51:00 GMT
For the second year running, a University of Portsmouth architecture student with a passion for historic buildings has won a prestigious national award for his plans to transform a Hampshire landmark.
Niall Bird, 23, won the Philip Webb Award for his sensitive, thoughtful plans to transform Bursledon Brickworks, near Southampton into an education centre. He won the same award last year for his plans to revitalise Portsmouth’s Hilsea Lido.
Niall is in the final year of a two-year post-graduate architecture diploma course and hopes to specialise in historic building conservation when he graduates this summer.
He said: “Winning this award for a second time is absolutely fantastic. The competition is unique as it allows entrants to showcase their work directly to specialists within the field of architectural conservation and re-use. This is incredibly useful in order to gauge how well your ideas would be potentially received within the profession.”
The Philip Webb Award encourages new design in the context of historic buildings and to develop an appreciation of buildings through understanding the architectural and historical values of old buildings and the purpose, philosophy and techniques of conservation.
Niall said: “Bursledon Brickworks evolved from a rural landscape into an industrial site closely linked to the landscape, processing materials for export via the River Hamble. Its entire history presents a picture of human development through changing function.
“Redesigning it as a traditional building skills education centre while still retaining the spirit of place and past was a challenge.
“I don’t believe in focussing on a historic building as an object, where restoration takes a leading role. History is a chronological development of human narrative and constantly changing activities and so buildings should respond to this, adapting where necessary rather than being preserved as museum artefacts.
“I attempted to merge the building’s past and immediate future through new, sensitive additions that link the building to a relevant use in the present.”
Niall submitted his drawings of the proposed regeneration of the late 19th Century site to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, which runs the Philip Webb award. He will be presented with the award and £1,000 prize money at SPAB’s London headquarters on January 25.
Niall’s designs for both the Hilsea Lido and the brickworks were done under the auspices of the University’s Project Office, which completes real projects in the region using the expertise of staff – all trained architects – and students.
He said: “The School of Architecture’s Project Office played such a vital role in me winning last year and again this year because the projects it gives us to work on are real with genuine clients.”
Martin Andrews, Project Office Coordinator and Associate Senior Lecturer at the University, set up the Office in November 2008.
He said: “Niall’s award winning project has responded positively to a real brief that was developed in consultation with the client at Bursledon Brickworks. His work can be understood by academics, practitioners and lay clients, which is a difficult skill-set to develop. By carefully considering his final presentation and choosing drawings and words that could be easily understood, Niall has shown that good architectural design can be appreciated by a wide audience.”
Niall graduated from Portsmouth with first class honours degree in 2008 and won the School of Architecture’s Dibben Prize for his final year assignment before taking a year out working in an architectural practice in Bristol.
Niall’s studio tutors are Francis Graves, Pam Cole and Martin Andrews. Other Portsmouth students to have won the Philip Webb Award are Chris Draper, joint first prize winner in 2000, and Christopher Jones and Martin Coles who jointly won in 1995.
Philip Webb and William Morris were the main founders of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. From the start Webb devoted time to teaching young architects the principles and methods of practical conservation.
The award aims to encourage new design in the context of historic buildings from any era and to develop an appreciation of old buildings among architectural students. Entrants were asked to re-vitalise a building or group of buildings of historic interest which are decaying or neglected.