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Young Vic and Palestra win architecture awards

London SE1 website team

The Young Vic theatre in The Cut has been named London Building of the Year by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Nearby Palestra has also picked up an award.

Young Vic and Palestra
Left: Young Vic in The Cut (Picture: Philip Vile) and right: Palestra in Blackfriars Road

Haworth Tompkins' 7 million rebuild of the Young Vic has won the inaugural RIBA London Building of the Year award. Opened on time and on budget in October 2006, the new building provides three performance spaces and radically expanded front and back of house facilities.

The citation for the award says: "The judges were struck by the delight with which the theatre company presented this surprising new building. Clearly the architects and their many clients had a very successful working relationship: both listened carefully to each other's concerns and this quiet interest has produced a building strong in the particular haphazard character. The key result of this fruitful collaboration is that the audiences as well as the staff continue to revere the singular intimacy of this famous venue."

"Winning this award is a real honour in such strong company, and a vindication of the intense effort that has gone into the project over the past five years." says Steve Tompkins.

"We've tried to make a friendly, loose-fit building that will continue to project the Young Vic's demotic, classless identity and be robust enough to survive the hard use it's already getting."

Young Vic artistic director David Lan added: "We had such an inspiring time working with Haworth Tompkins and have so greatly enjoyed our first six months of living and working in our brilliant building that receiving this level of acclaim feels almost superfluous. But it is not. It is thrilling. And it is a thrill that will be shared by our audiences and artists for years to come."

Other local projects by Haworth Tompkins include the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre in Stamford Street and the revamp of the National Theatre Studio on The Cut.

Palestra: Reinventing the speculative office

Will Alsop's Palestra on Blackfriars Road was another of the 20 London buildings to be recognised by the RIBA judging panel.

The London Development Agency already occupies the building; they will be joined by Transport for London later in the year.

Palestra has not found universal favour, notably with residents of the nearby Rochester Estate whose sunlight and television reception has been blocked by the new building.

The building hit the headlines in January when the 14 wind turbines were removed from its roof. At the time the London Development Agency claimed that the turbines had been recalled by the manufacturer and would be reinstated in approximately one month.

More than three months later the turbines are still missing from the rooftop. This week the London SE1 website was contacted by Edinburgh-based manufacturer Renewable Devices which denied that any safety recall had been issued. They insist that the turbines have been removed for "upgrade work" and "will be re-installed in the next few weeks".

Palestra's RIBA award citation reads: "Palestra offers a very particular response to the speculative office with simple traditional office space wrapped around a central core. Palestra suggests that in smart hands there is much that can be done and much more still to be done: the speculative office has been challenged."

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