The Independent London Newspaper
21st September 2018

Kilburn Grange adventure playground among winners at Camden Design Awards

    The playground at Kilburn Grange

    The playground at Kilburn Grange

    Published: 16 April, 2014

    FROM a new university carved out of a Victorian railway store house to an adventure playground, this year’s Camden Design Awards have celebrated a wide range of old buildings given new lives and new buildings in historic areas. 

    The awards, organised by Camden Council, had a panel of designers, architects and planners, and was chaired by Holborn and Covent Garden Labour councillor Sue Vincent, who chairs the Town Hall’s planning committee. 

    Erect Architect’s scheme for the Kilburn Grange Park Playcentre and Adventure Playground was one of the winners. Built on the site of a Victorian arboretum, it features play areas built around trees and the new play centre has been designed to be part of the landscape. The panel said the design was “fun personified” and “an extraordinarily pertinent architecture with an architectural language that is unexpected and spot-on, full of unusual detail and designed with great care.”

    The new University of the Arts in Granary Square, King’s Cross, designed by Islington-based firm Stanton Williams, refurbished a Grade II-listed buildings and included a new, 200-metre extension for arts studios, theatre and exhibitions. The panel praised it as a “model of both the retention of an important historic warehouse and of the juxtaposition of old and new”.

    Peter Murray, chairman of the New London Architecture group who champion design, sat on the judging panel. He told the New Journal that the context of the new buildings they chose was all-important to the judges. 

    He said: “A lot of those chosen had to fit into a historical context, a historical environment that is sensitive.”

    He cited new homes built in Wakefield Street, a conservation area overlooking the Georgian square St George’s Gardens and praised the honesty of the designs by Piercy and Company.

    He said: “Designers need to be aware of the debates going on in the city centres they are working and they also need to hold on to what they believe in. These buildings are not a pastiche. They are contemporary but they do not feel out of place. They feel well built and built in a way that makes it look like it will last.”

    He said that the cost of new buildings did not influence the judges decision.

    He said: “There are some buildings in Camden that we looked at that are actually inexpensive but the crucial thing is they are well thought out and simply show the benefits of good design. This really reflects Camden’s environment. There is a real range and breadth of design on Camden’s streets and these designs show this perfectly.”

    He praised the regeneration of the former Railway Lands in King’s Cross, which gave the awards two winning entries in the Central St Martins University and the restoration of St Pancras Chambers, and another for the new Granary Square that sits in front of the university.

    He said: “King’s Cross is a really interesting example of city regeneration, and provides an example for others.

    “It has been really well done. It had very intensive public consultation very early on. There were lots of discussions and the architects chosen had clear ideas – and they were given a very strong brief to work from.”

    Mr Murray added that King’s Cross had a good starting point to work from.

    He said: “They had magnificent buildings such as the Midland Hotel and it has been done in an exemplary fashion. The same goes for King’s Cross and St Pancras stations: frankly they make the Gare du Nord in Paris look like a slum.”


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