AND THE WINNERS ARE... Portsmouth’s top buildings of the year

Portsmouth Society Design Award Best Restoration Winner Buckingham House. Picture: Jonty Sexton
Portsmouth Society Design Award Best Restoration Winner Buckingham House. Picture: Jonty Sexton
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A lesson in history, done with style, wit and panache

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TWO ‘outstanding’ and historic Old Portsmouth buildings have clinched leading design awards.

The Hot Walls Studios and Canteen Café in Broad Street won the Best Reuse of a building prize in The Portsmouth Society’s 2017 design awards.

Buckingham House.                                       Picture: Jonty Sexton

Buckingham House. Picture: Jonty Sexton

And winner in the Best Restoration category was Buckingham House, a short stroll around the corner in High Street where judges admired owner Ian Young’s ‘great care and attention’ to detail in his painstaking £480,000 restoration and finding a new use for the historic building as a hotel.

The judges were disappointed no new building was worthy of a Best New Building award, but they commended Hartford Court in Catherington Place on the St Mary’s Hospital campus.

Also commended, perhaps surprisingly in view of criticism of the yellow cladding on its top storeys, was the Greetham Street student accommodation in the city centre. 

The judges were delighted that for the first time there were two landscaping entries from secondary schools. Mayfield School, North End, won the Best Landscaping prize.

Buckingham House                                        Picture: Jonty Sexton

Buckingham House Picture: Jonty Sexton

And artist Peter Codling’s second gate for St Edmund’s School – ‘another outstanding work of art’ – won a commendation for Best Landscaping.

Judges architects Mick Morris, Martin Pearce and Andrew Pottinger, with society president Celia Clark, were unanimous in awarding the studios and café the Best Reuse and Best Restoration prizes.

The empty casemates of Eighteen Gun Battery and Point Battery were converted by architect Deniz Beck into ‘lively well-used spaces’.

The restoration and conversion was funded by a £1.7m grant from the Coastal Communities Fund and £40,000 from Portsmouth Urban South Hampshire. Mountjoy Building were the contractors.

Best Restoration Winner Buckingham House
 Picture: Jonty Sexton

Best Restoration Winner Buckingham House Picture: Jonty Sexton

The judges said: ‘The architect imaginatively incorporated the external searchlight battery into the cafe and added the extraordinary balcony which springs out to meet the Round Tower – a platform over the water that brings you nose to nose with passing ships in the narrow harbour entrance.’

The ground floor of Point Battery, long-closed to the public, is now part of the Canteen café operated by Bill Branson.

The project has already been shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects South Award, another for Constructing Excellence and Architect of the Year Award 2017. It was also a Building Excellence Awards

Regional Finalist in 2017.

Buckingham House
                                        Picture: Jonty Sexton

Buckingham House Picture: Jonty Sexton

The judges added: ‘The new activities animate Broad Street at ground level as never before, and the Canteen is so popular chairs and tables now spread out into the open space. The design gives local people a whole new perspective on the city’s maritime heritage, bringing us closer to the water, shipping and life in the harbour.’

At Buckingham House, where the building and back courtyard garden have been restored over six years, Mr Young told the judges the last major renovations were carried out in the 1950s. The project came to a halt for several years during the banking crisis when banks withdrew funding.

Individual craftsmen were used for the different aspects of the work, directed by Ian Young to ensure high quality workmanship.

Judge Martin Pearce said: ‘It’s a wonderful building full of stories. The conservation of the building is the conservation of these stories.

‘A house is more than bricks, stone, and timber. Inscribed into the materials are the memories of those who once played out their lives within its walls and their collective memories are inscribed into every facet of this exceptional building.

‘The conservation has been painstaking and not without its own drama, but the owner has, with extraordinary tenacity, seen the project through to completion making this fine house once again sing out its history.

Buckingham House
                                       Picture: Jonty Sexton

Buckingham House Picture: Jonty Sexton

‘By taking paying guests new visitors will write their own stories with Buckingham House as part of their own personal narratives.’

• Sixty-room Hartford Court was designed by HGP Fareham for Hartford Care to house older people and provide specialist dementia care, respite and day care.

• The Greetham Street Student Residence, designed by Jason Hayter of Cooley Architects, was built by contractor RG Group Ltd for Unite Students Group which already has three halls of residence in Portsmouth.

Its designers aimed to create a prominent landmark in the city centre and terminate the view along Isambard Brunel Road to frame this part of the city.

The judges welcomed the lively contribution the building makes to Greetham Street, particularly at night.

• At Mayfield School city landscape architect Antje Eisfelder explained to the judges the aim was to transform unused space on the street frontage into a soft and welcoming space for play, learning and growing plants, where infants and juniors would feel comfortable, because Mayfield is the first ‘all through’ school in the city.

The contractors were Wilding Butler, with DM Habens for the parallel transformation of classrooms on the ground floor, in a scheme that combines landscape with architecture.

• Renowned artist Peter Codling’s second gate for St Edmund’s School, Arundel Street, features an eagle symbol laser-cut in mirror-polished stainless steel by Dutton Engineering Ltd in Luton with technical support from CTS Europe Ltd (ex-pupils of St Edmund’s, as is Mr Codling).

The other entries the judges saw were: the Mary Rose Manor Care Home, Copnor; the Little Learners Nursery, Fratton, the Salisbury Road doctors’ Surgery, and the ‘Sun Court’ housing in Sedgley Close, Somers Town.

Winner Best Reuse  - The Canteen and Hot Walls Old Portsmouth. 

The Canteen next to the Round Tower
                                                                               Picture: Celia Clark

Winner Best Reuse - The Canteen and Hot Walls Old Portsmouth. The Canteen next to the Round Tower Picture: Celia Clark

Hot Walls and Canteen cafe.                       Picture: Deniz Beck

Hot Walls and Canteen cafe. Picture: Deniz Beck

Hartford Court Best New Building Commendation
Picture: Celia Clark

Hartford Court Best New Building Commendation Picture: Celia Clark

Best Landscaping Commendation St Edmund's School entrance

Best Landscaping Commendation St Edmund's School entrance

Greetham Street Student Housing - Commendation Best New Building                                                          Picture: Sam Brooks

Greetham Street Student Housing - Commendation Best New Building Picture: Sam Brooks