Philip Webb Award winners

Share on:

Architecture students win SPAB's 'reuse of old buildings' conservation award

The winning entry of the SPAB’s (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) Philip Webb Award 2020 is a beautifully executed and highly appropriate proposal for the reuse of an underused block of buildings in Nottingham City Centre.

First place was awarded to Nottingham University 2020 graduate Jess Tyson. Spurred on by our current climate emergency, Jess’s project asked why so many buildings sit vacant or are scheduled for demolition when redevelopment through imaginative new design could give them a new lease of life.


Jess chose three sites in Nottingham City centre all with distinct characters and in various conditions and reimagined them as a community arts centre and performance venue. The scheme looked at the Grade-II listed 1888 Nottingham Guildhall, the Art-Deco inspired fire station, and the 1954 ‘island’ building that extends the Guildhall. Judges commended her for her focus on sustainability and her exciting elements of new design.


Jess said: "One of the problems that kickstarted my thesis was the acknowledgment of the threats posed to our historic sites as more buildings become neglected, vacant and demolished. I feel quite passionately that this problem, especially in the midst of our current climate emergency, is a priority for architects to address; my project hopes to form a new vision for building conservation which is more accessible, achievable and sustainable for more people to carry out." 



Second place was awarded to a team of architecture students from Birmingham School of Architecture and Design for their scheme that imagined the refurbishment of Moseley Road Baths. The team behind the scheme was Bekkii Chim, Shannon Ciriaco, Frances Lacey, Annabel Linch, Huma Mahmood, Lechelle Ndlovu, James Timmins.

The team’s proposal was commended by the judges for its sensitive approach to conserving the existing building whilst exploring exciting options for refurbishment, upgrading and extensions at the Moseley Road Baths site, enabling its continued use for public swimming but also converting parts of the complex for a variety of other community uses.    

Bekkii Chim, the group’s representative said about the win: “We are delighted to be awarded second place for our proposal for Moseley Road Baths. Opened in 1907, the Baths feature exceptionally intact interiors which offer a fascinating insight into life in Birmingham in the past. Through a carefully considered approach, our proposal aims to reinstate the Edwardian baths at the heart of its community through a sensitive balance of preservation and new opportunity. Our ambitions for the project were generated by the community’s ongoing determination to keep the Baths alive, inspiring us to develop a proposal that could rejuvenate the essence of the baths, enhancing the beautiful character of the building while introducing new facilities for local people. Through our scheme, we have proposed a vibrant hub for swimming, creativity, and well-being, through a phased plan to secure the continuity of this much-loved building in our city.”

The SPAB was delighted to see so many schemes put forward for the Philip Webb Award that tackled the urgent issue of sustainability in the construction industry. Inventive and exciting reuse of an old building is always preferable to demolition.


Notes to editors


The SPAB is Britain’s oldest building conservation charity. It was set up by William Morris in 1877 to oppose the destructive restorations of the Victorian era and promote the alternative of “conservative repair”. By law it must be notified of applications to demolish listed buildings in England and Wales and comments on hundreds each year. Today its broad remit is to advise, educate and campaign.

Philip Webb Award

Philip Webb and William Morris were the main founders of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. From the start, Webb devoted time to teaching young architects the principles and methods of practical conservation. The SPAB maintains that educational tradition today and the annual Philip Webb Award is part of that commitment.

The competition is open to all students at UK Schools of Architecture who have achieved RIBA Part I and who are working towards RIBA Part II, and recent graduates. The award aims to develop students’ appreciation of the unique needs and demands of old buildings by asking them to undertake a drawing-board project that strengthens their understanding of architectural and historical value along with their knowledge of the purpose, philosophy and techniques of conservation.

The Brief is to devise a scheme which sympathetically revitalises a historic building for reuse. The scheme should incorporate both careful repair of existing fabric and a significant element of new construction in a contemporary design.

The Philip Webb Award judging panel: Robert Davies, Richard Griffiths, Sarah Khan, Kirstie Robbins.

Image credits: Jess Tyson; Bekkii Chim and team

Get involved