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29th March, 2021

Kingston University’s flagship Town House wins Civic Trust accolade celebrating very best in architectural design and planning

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Kingston University’s landmark Town House is among the winners of the 2021 Civic Trust Awards, which celebrate exceptional architecture and planning, and particularly recognises buildings that have made a positive contribution to the communities they serve.

The accolade is given to projects that make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the built environment. They must demonstrate excellence in architecture and design while being sustainable, provide a positive civic contribution and be accessible.

Town House was described by the award committee as ‘an important new building for Kingston University and Kingston itself and a great civic contribution in the truest sense’. It was ‘completely accessible to Kingston residents and established a new landmark in Kingston and a community facility where the local community gets to participate in University-led events’.

The six-storey, £50 million structure opened at the Penrhyn Road campus in January 2020. It was designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning Grafton Architects and built by three-time Education Constructor of the Year winner Willmott Dixon.

Acting as a gateway to the University for residents and businesses, the building is home to an extensive library and archives, group study space, dance studios, studio theatre, covered courtyard, cafes and two roof terraces with stunning views across Kingston.

Sustainability was a key aspect of the project. Town House is rated BREEAM excellent, and includes solar panels on the roof, a large sustainable urban drainage system, innovative cooling within the floor-slabs, brown roofs and two accessible roof gardens.

The University’s Director of Estates and Sustainability Sean Woulfe said the Civic Trust Award was the latest in a series of honours for Town House, which has been shortlisted in several prestigious architecture and design awards.

“We set out to create a world-class building that reflects the importance of our civic role in Kingston and that provides a fantastic facility for our students, staff, residents and businesses in the area,” Mr Woulfe said.

“Winning this important accolade is testament to the building’s outstanding architectural design, sustainability credentials and benefit to our local community.”

The aim of the Civic Trust Awards, one of the oldest built environment award schemes in Europe, is to encourage the very best in architecture and environmental design, to improve the built environment for everyone through design, sustainability, inclusiveness and accessibility, and also to reward projects that offer a positive cultural, social, economic or environmental benefit to their local communities.

Judging for the awards, which are sponsored by Derwent, complied with social distancing regulations and took place over the summer when Covid-19 restrictions were eased. Award winners were announced in an online presentation.

The Civic Trust Award follows other recognition for Town House. It was one of the finalists in the prestigious Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards and was named among the best architecture of 2020 by two eminent national critics. It was featured in Rowan Moore’s five best of 2020 in the Observer newspaper while the Guardian newspaper’s architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, listed Town House as a highlight of his round up of the best architecture of 2020.

The building was also a finalist in the NLA London Awards – shortlisted for top honours in the learning category – and was highly commended in the Concrete Society’s Annual Awards.


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