Battersea wins design and architecture awards

Published: 6 December 2020
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Omid Djalili and Bláithín Mac Gabhann in Performance Live The Way Out
Battersea Arts Centre East Corridor and Grand Hall Credit: Fred Howarth
Battersea Arts Centre The Courtyard Credit: Philip Vile

London's Battersea Arts Centre has been chosen as the 2020 Overall Winner of this year's New London Architecture Design and Architecture Awards having taken home the Experiencing Culture Prize and the Community Prize.

The venue's 12-year collaboration with Stirling Prize-winning architects Haworth Tompkins saw radical changes to the Grade II* listed building, making every area a potential creative space. It was a challenging time with a devastating fire causing significant damage to the Grand Hall and the area around it in 2015, with the venue reopening in 2018.

Architecture critic Andreas Ruby said, “I [also] like the interpretation of what culture is. It’s not this kind of highbrow exclusive club kind of culture where you’re happy to be chosen while others are not. It’s integral and it’s inclusive and a kind of statement for our time.”

The NLA 2020 Awards judges described Haworth Tompkins's design as “ingenious”, “exemplary and scholarly”.

Steve Tompkins, director of Haworth Tompkins, said, “we’ve learned so much from our 12-year relationship with this extraordinary building and an equally remarkable team of people. Being part of such a slowly evolving transformation of both the building and the organisation has deepened our understanding of how cultural spaces can become genuine centres of community—we experienced at first hand the collective energy of improvisation and shared authorship, the multiplying power of mutual trust and the deep, sustaining affection that so many people feel towards Battersea Arts Centre. For all the technical complexity of the task and the unexpected twists of fate, it has been a joyful project to work on.”

These are amongst a slew of recent awards including a Royal Television Society Craft & Design Award for Performance Live: The Way Out directed by Suri Krishnamma and shot around BAC in an unbroken take. It was produced by Arts Council England, BBC Arts and Battersea Arts Centre and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

The venue was awarded the prizes for the Mayor’s Design Award best Restoration / Conversion at the Wandsworth Design Awards, two RIBA Awards, Civic Trust’s AABC Conservation Award, a Wood Award for the new Grand Hall ceiling, an International Architecture Award and The Stage Award for Theatre Building of Year.

The venue was able to open after the initial lockdown since it has an outdoor performance space created as part of its refurbishment which was home to comedy events in front of a live audience.