Headlines: July 6th, 2004

An innovative public lavatory and a school for children with special educational needs are among the projects in line for this year’s Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award. The awards, now in their fourth year, recognise excellence in design quality and procurement practices of publicly funded buildings.A total of 17 schemes, selected from a record number of entries, are shortlisted in the award nominations published today.

The lavatory, at Brockenhurst, was commissioned by New Forest District Council and has been designed by architect Magnus Ström to be reminiscent of agricultural barns and to demonstrate how a modest building can make an important contribution to the public realm. Also on the shortlist is the scheme that has transformed Trafalgar Square from an isolated traffic island for tourists into a grand public space with increased pedestrianisation and a resulting 25 per cent drop in noise and air pollution.

There is a nomination too for the Hoyle Early Years Centre at Bury, in Lancashire. The judges say the award-winning early years centre for children with special educational needs has brought imaginative thinking to the table in the design of facilities where children can learn and think. The Head Teacher Clare Barker, says the new building is light and airy – the total opposite of the previous building.

Other shortlisted schemes include Birmingham City Council’s redevelopment of Masshouse Circus in the city centre, the Architecture Building at Lincoln University, Wolfson Medical School for the University of Glasgow, City & Islington College Life Long Learning Centre in London, road schemes in Bingley and East Lothian and the Wildern Basic Needs Secondary School in Southampton

Paul Finch, Deputy Chairman of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, who is a judge of the awards, said the shortlist was a real cross-section of building types from the very largest to the smallest but they all showed the excellence in design quality, which was becoming an increasing feature of public services.