2014 Awards Nominations
It was a very great pleasure to once again receive nominations for, and to visit examples of both restoration and new buildings that enrich our historic built environment. The tenth anniversary of the Civic Society Awards saw first rate nominations.
Despite some disastrous losses in 2014, demonstrating that our decision makers are still living in the bad old days, it is possible to discern that care for our historic built environment may be entering an enlightened age. The beautiful buildings to which we have given awards and commendations this year are undoubtedly the heritage of our city’s future.
2014 Award Nominations Gallery
2014 Award Ceremony
Yet again we remind readers that the Annual Awards Scheme would never get off the ground were it not for our enthusiastic Heritage Team. The timetable dictates that they have to spring into action and conduct detailed site visits at the coldest and wettest time of the year. February 2015 was at least dry but it was still cold. The Society remains very much in their debt.
Our Guest of Honour making the awards on Friday 17th April 2015 will be Councillor Adam Clarke, Heritage Champion for the City of Leicester. Adam will present the 2014 Awards, with a reception and dinner at the City Rooms, Hotel Street, Leicester. Full details are given on the enclosed handbill. Please see the bookings page to reserve your place at this prestigious event by 4th April. As we have now said for ten years, encouraging and celebrating restoration and design excellence in historic Leicester is a noble cause and one in which Leicester Civic Society is proud to be taking the lead.
2014 Restoration Award Category
The 2014 Award for Restoration goes to City Hall. Built as council offices in 1938 by architects L. Barnish and H. Spencer Silcock, this is a large Art-Deco building with a fine stairway tower on Rutland Street. There is a Chinese roof in green glazed tiles, monumental two-storey entrance arches on Charles Street and street canopies on all three frontages that have glazed blocks for the maximum penetration of natural light to the pavements.
The City Council moved back into City Hall as a result of the dreadful 1970’s New Walk Centre being declared structurally unsound. The building was in poor condition and a great deal of work needed to be undertaken to make it fit for 21st Century purpose whilst respecting its outstanding 1930’s features.
City Hall is on the Local Interest List and in March 2014 Leicester Civic Society recommended that it be included in an extension to Granby Street conservation area. The city has a rich heritage of 1920’s and 1930’s architecture and we are delighted to make the 2014 award to this splendid example.
2014 New Build Award Category
The New Build Award for 2014 goes to Leicester’s new Market Hall. The panel were extremely impressed by a building of uncompromising modern design that is nevertheless in scale and harmony with its important historic surroundings.
London architects Greig and Stephenson specialise in first class designs for markets and have worked on Borough Market and Camden Market as well as those at Preston and Leeds. We were not just impressed by the design but by the clear way in which the building works, by the careful thought that had been given to its function as a part of the market and the high level of consultation with market traders that has clearly contributed to its success.
2014 Award Commendations
The 2014 Awards Scheme saw some remarkably fine nominations which fell short of the award but were given commendations. They are all originally the work of famous Leicester architects and we feature them here.
The Turkey Café
The Turkey Café is a much loved Leicester landmark in Granby Street Conservation Area. Designed and built by Arthur Wakerley in 1901, who used an exotic design of tiles to create an oriental feel. The upper window is surmounted by a giant turkey in multi-coloured faience tiling. Built for Mr. Winn, who had a chain of cafeterias, the building ultimately passed to Brucciani. The original ground floor frontage was lost at this time but was fully restored in 1983. Brucciani themselves fitted a splendid interior tiled panel in 1968 but this was subsequently covered over by other users of the building.
The Turkey cafe is a good example of how quality features can be lost and then recovered over a relatively small space of time. It has now been acquired by Ryan Biddles. Ryan and his team are hard at work attempting to recover other lost interior features, in particular the original 1901 blue and cream tiles that have been boxed in or otherwise hidden from view.
KRIII Visitor Centre
The former Alderman Newton’s Grammar School in St. Martins provides an outstanding example of a new use being found for an old building. The original school built by Joseph Goddard in King Richard III Visitor Centre Trust
The original school built by Joseph Goddard in 1864 occupies the rear. It was extended to St. Martins in 1899. The school became empty and increasingly derelict in 2008. As the world now knows the building is across the site of the medieval Church of St. Francis and in 2012 the remains of King Richard III were discovered just a few feet away.
Leicester City Council promptly bought the school and committed themselves to restoration and extension as a visitor centre and the establishment of a King Richard III Visitor Centre Trust. Maber as architects and Morgan Sindall as contractors had only fifteen months to effect the transformation but the new Visitor Centre opened in July 2014. Commended.
St. Guthlac’s Church South Knighton
St. Guthlac’s Church South Knighton was built by Stockdale Harrison in 1912. A small scale building, it provided no room for any modern facilities. The ingenious answer to this problem was to reconstruct the west façade at the end of an entirely new west bay that the casual visitor would be unaware was not a part of the original building. This purely local effort just shows what can be achieved by sympathetic alterations to our historic built environment. Commended.