Norfolk projects celebrated at prestigious design awards

The Ella May Barns Building, completed, at Norwich Research Park

The Ella May Barnes Building, Norwich Research Park, was recognised in the non-residential category - Credit: R G Carter

Norfolk has some of the most locally loved and contemporary architecture and community projects in the country and the Design and Craftsmanship Awards are an exciting opportunity to celebrate this.

A collaboration between The Norfolk Association of Architects, The Norwich Society and Civic Voice, these biennial awards celebrate outstanding building and places in the county across four categories - houses and housing, non-residential, conservation and community. They recognise all those involved in their creation, from designers to the specialist craftspeople and the community, where collaboration delivers high standards of finish, innovation in design and community benefit.

They are a means for builders, architects, and communities to be recognised for their work within a wider setting. The ambition of the awards is to leave a long lasting and positive impact on the region through recognition of best practice and exemplary schemes that shape future development for the benefit of all.

The 2021 awards evening was held at The Assembly House in Norwich, itself a previous recipient of a Norwich Society Design Award in recognition of its restoration.

Overall, 21 built projects were recognised for their contribution. All projects were based in Norfolk with most designers and builders also from the county. Those that received awards demonstrated originality of design, quality of craftsmanship and enhanced the local setting - and they are excellent examples of inspiring work across Norfolk.

A private home on Wiveton Road, Blakeney, which has just won an award for its design and build

Wiveton Road, Blakeney, was recognised in the residential category - Credit: Create Consulting

Houses and housing
Projects recognised in the houses and housing category were:

  • Blue Sky Barn, Norfolk: the conversion of disused grain store into a new home, designed by 33/44 Architects and built by Draper & Nichols.
  • Freeholders, East Quay, Wells: a new home in the historic Wells-next-the-Sea, designed by Mole architects and built by Cunningham Builders.
  • Wiveton Road, Blakeney: a highly insulated modern home, designed by Hudson Architects, built by Grocott and Murfit and nominated by Create Consulting.

Commendations were given to:

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  • Recreation Road, Norwich: two new mid-century style homes in the heart of the Norwich’s Golden Triangle, with DFAL architects and constructed by Arc Homes.
  • Woodland Studio, Costessey: a multi-purpose extension to a private property, designed by David Thompson and LSI Architects, built by Baker & King.
  • Cricketers, Bradfield: a self-build refurbishment and extension, designed by Alston Architects.

Nicola Curle, from Howes Percival, the sponsor of this category, said: “We were delighted to sponsor the housing category at this year’s Design and Craftsmanship Awards.

"Congratulations to all the winners of commendations and awards. It was a fantastic evening celebrating all the incredible projects across Norfolk and Norwich that positively affect our built environment. Hopefully this recognition of best practice and craftsmanship will help shape future development in our region.”

Projects recognised in the non-residential category were:

  • Ella May Barnes Building, Norwich Research Park: a sustainable research building, designed by Fielden and Mawson, built by R G Carter Ltd.
  • Benedicts Gate student residences, Norwich: new student residences built over an existing car park, designed by Carson & Partners, built by H G construction and nominated by Connisbee engineers.

With commendations given to:

  • Sheringham Woodfields School Therapy Centre, designed by Hudson architects and built by Draper & Nichols Ltd.
  • Hethersett Woodside Primary & Nursery School: a new primary school, designed by NPS Property Consultants and built by Morgan Sindall Ltd.
  • Crown Place student residences, Norwich: the refurbishment of former office blocks on St Stephens Street, Norwich, designed by ECE westworks and built by R G Carter Ltd.
  • Hethersett Academy: a new teaching block designed by NPS Property Consultants and built by R G Carter Ltd.
Inside a warehouse style community hub for The Matthew Project, based in Norwich

A refurbishment project to create a community hub for The Matthew Project was recognised in the community category - Credit: Justin Smith

The community category acknowledged projects that appreciate that people and communities influence the character and nature of ‘place’. Successful community projects contribute to local life, promote a sense of pride and demonstrate a high quality of design and finished construction.

Projects recognised with an award were:

  • The Matthew Project, Norwich: a refurbishment project to create a community hub supporting people suffering from substance abuse, internal refurbishment designed by Cannon Clarke Architects.
  • The Locks Inn Community Pub, Geldeston: a community initiative to refurbish and reopen a much loved community pub, now owned by its 1,400 strong shareholders.

Commendation awards were presented to:

  • The Nest Community Hub, Norwich: a new sports facility and community hub for the Community Sports Foundation. Designed by Chaplin Farrant architects and built by Cocksedge Building Contractors.
  • Old Library Wood, Norwich: a small urban space designed and run by residents for the benefit of the local area.
A graphic showing an urban farm designed by Molly Agnew

Molly Agnew won this year's Student Award for her urban farm - Credit: Molly Agnew

Student Award
This year saw the first student awards, which were based on projects undertaken by second and third-year students as part of their Architecture degree course at Norwich University of the Arts.

The projects were judged for considering and enhancing the community where they are situated, as well as contributing to a celebration of place.

The winner was Molly Agnew for her an urban community farm project. The judges praised the project as a well-presented scheme with clear thinking on construction methodology. It showed a thoughtful inclusion of sustainability and community engagement within the project.

The category was sponsored by Jarrold who praised the project, saying: “We are delighted to sponsor the inaugural student award which focuses on those who are at the start of their architectural journey, working with some of the best in class, learning and developing their own skills and style. As a company we have a history of supporting local talent and communities and we believe firmly that this begins with recognising the talent of the future.

"In our 251st year we still pride ourselves on thinking like a start-up, searching for new ways of working and developing new ways of moving forwards and we’re looking forward to playing our part in the development of this fine city.”

16 Elm Hill in Norwich in the sunshine

The winner of the Sir Bernard Fielden Award for Conservation was 16 Elm Hill in Norwich - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The final awards of the evening acknowledged projects that are exemplars of conservation and restoration, often within sensitive sites.

Awards were given to:

  • Abbey Barn, West Acre: refurbishment and conversion of a Grade II* Listed Barn into a brewery. Designed by Ruth Brennan Architecture and built by Draper & Nichols Ltd.
  • The Thomas Messenger Glasshouse and Belltower, Holkham Estate: restoration of the historic glasshouse and bell tower, designed by RH Partnership and built by Messenger BRC.

Commendations were awarded to:

  • Weavers House, Norwich: an adaption of a Grade II Listed building to form new homes. Designed jointly by Paul Robinson Partnership and Ground Designs, and built by BMA Construction Group.
  • The White House, Quidenham: refurbishment of a Georgian school house for use as an SEN Centre. Designed by Archway Building Consultancy and built by NCL Contractors.

The Sir Bernard Fielden Award for Conservation is awarded in recognition of excellence in alterations and restoration of a historic building in Norwich, and this year was presented to 16 Elm Hill, Norwich.

It was nominated by The Norwich Preservation Society who said: “16 Elm Hill was a former council house in need of a lot of love, but with the help of grants from the Architectural Heritage Fund, The Norwich Preservation Trust was able to return it to use as a comfortable modern family home whilst retaining the historic fabric and features of this listed building.

"Work on the restoration revealed a wealth of hidden architectural features, including charred evidence of the great fire of Norwich in 1507 that destroyed Elm Hill.

"The Norwich Preservation Trust have been preserving the historic buildings of Norwich for over 65 years, but this was a new team. This was the first project for the Trust’s Surveyor and Project Organiser Chloe Canning-Trigg who worked with Paul Purslow (Purslows Chartered Building Surveyors), Michael Reynolds RIBA, Andrew Morton Associates Ltd and BLC Builders Ltd to deliver the high quality restoration of this wonderful old building. We are delighted that their expertise, skill, and craftsmanship has been recognised with the 2021 Sir Bernard Feilden Award for Conservation.”

Congratulations go to all those that received awards and commendations, as they represent the very best in recent projects in Norfolk. The Design and Craftsmanship Awards will return in 2023.

More information on the awards can be found at

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