Huddersfield Civic Society Design Award winners 2023

Huddersfield’s best new building in 2023 is the hospital’s new accident and emergency unit.

The £15m unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary won the title for the Best New Build and was the overall winner at the Huddersfield Civic Society Design Awards.

Best Public or Commercial Development was the Jo Cox More in Common Centre at the University of Huddersfield.

The community award went to Huddersfield Riverside Nature Park while the Best Shopfront was Lincoln’s Florists in Huddersfield town centre. The Best Refurbishment was Highfields Residential – a former college converted into apartments.

The awards were presented by the Mayor of Kirklees Clr Cahal Burke and here’s what the judges had to say about each one.

They really liked the new casualty department, stating: “The new building demonstrates considerable care and understanding with regard to its external appearance, layout and internal design.

“There has clearly been both empathy and strong joint working between the foundation trust, architects and contractors. External elevations not only achieve an attractive balance of stonework and powder-coated cladding but great thought has been given to landscaping, permeable surfaces and signage.

“Internally, the spaces have colourful elements and furnishings that enliven the overall atmosphere and murals, particularly those aimed at younger patients.”

The Jo Cox More in Common Centre was described as having a great balance of external building materials.

The judges said: “Stonework and grey cladding, combined with a symmetrical central bay of glazed panels sub-divided by piers, creates an overall, neo-classical elegance that suits the building’s purpose as a place for meetings and prayer.

“The entrance, enhanced by an unusual ‘living’ wall, leads to a meeting room, prayer rooms and lounge. The building achieves the WELL building standard, a system for measuring and certifying features that impact on health and well-being. It’s a fitting tribute to Jo Cox.”

Lincoln’s Florists on High Street in Huddersfield town centre is owned by Lindsay Foster and the judges said: “Since inception of the HCS Design Awards in 2012 we have often lamented the poor perception created by poor and often illegal shopfronts, particularly along sections of John William Street and Cross Church Street.

“Therefore, it is commendable that a privately owned business on the corner of High Street and New Street has been able to show what can be achieved. Not only is the signage clear and effective but also manages not to detract from the qualities of the High Street Buildings within which it is situated, a 1935 development designed by Norman Culley, former head of Huddersfield School of Art.

“Lindsay has created a clean, elegant frontage, topped by signage that is both individual and enhanced by floral elements.”

Highfields Residential on New North Road in Highfields near the town centre won the Best Refurbishment title by transforming an old college into more than 30 apartments.

It has been done by San Pedro Properties and its director, Andrew Mear, has assembled a fascinating collection of memorabilia relating the building’s past which is now displayed in communal parts of the property.

The judges said: “It’s gratifying to see that one of Huddersfield’s most architecturally and historically important buildings, the Grade 2 former Huddersfield College building on New North Road, has been brought back to life with a conversion that is creating 33 apartments within its cavernous spaces.”

Built in 1839 from designs by Huddersfield Railway Station architect J P Pritchett, the college combined elements of both Tudor and Gothic architecture with an imposing front elevation and a central three storey hall.

The judges added: “Such conversions are notoriously difficult, having to achieve a balance between the conservation of key elements, both externally and internally, with the need to provide contemporary, high quality residential units that attract interest from people seeking homes.  

“External changes to the original structure have been minimal with limited demolition of later additions and new build elements. Among the unusual features that have been retained are the diamond paned windows, some of which have been repaired.”

The Community Award went to Huddersfield Riverside Nature Park which has been created by EPIKS (Environmental Projects in Kirklees).

The judges said: “The river corridor through Huddersfield is a huge asset to the town, offering habitats for wildlife and access for walking and leisure activities. Past neglect, industrial obsolescence, pollution and fly tipping have sometimes obscured the huge potential of this linear route.

“EPIKS’ Huddersfield Riverside Nature Park has already improved sections of the route, particularly around the Kings Mill Lane area, and this award focusses on recent voluntary work upgrading paths and waymarking to improve access and to restore biodiversity around Colnebridge.

“Working with local schools, the University of Huddersfield and local businesses, EPIKS volunteers are helping improve and restore a hugely valuable resource, rich with wildlife and opportunities for learning, leisure and enjoyment.”

Long service awards were made by HCS president Bernard Ainsworth to Michael Barron after 18 years as treasurer and Martin Kilburn who is HCS Minutes Secretary.

The awards evening also featured presentations by Adrian Pitts, Professor of Sustainable Architecture at Huddersfield University, and Jonathan Lovatt, managing director of Eight One Two architects on the subject of What is Good Design?