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Guildford Society Give Their Annual Design Awards

Published on: 23 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 26 Oct, 2012

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) won two of the four categories of design awards given by the Guildford Society last Thursday evening (October 18th) during a packed event at the Guildhall.

Their award winning design in the new Build category was for G Live building but they also picked up the Crabtree Award for Significant Environmental Improvement.

Other winners were: The Shere Manor Estate in the Restoration category; and the Fox Corner Community Wildlife Area Association in the Environment category.

Commendations were given to: New Build Category – The University of Surrey for The University Library and Learning Centre; Steamer Trading Ltd for their High Street Shop; Restoration category – The Loseley Estate for Orange Court Barns, Littleton; and Nikki Ackerly for 20 Bury Fields.

Merilyn Spier presented the event and the awards were given by David Watts, former Chief Executive at GBC and an Honorary Freeman of Guildford. Following the awards ceremony and a controversial speech by the guest of honour David Watts, members and guests adjourned for drinks and finger buffet in the historic first floor chamber of the Guildhall.


G Live – Winner

G Live – Photo Doug Scott

Guildford Society Citation: This Entertainment Venue is an excellent contemporary design that is sensitive to the scale of the nearby buildings  and is enhanced by its informal natural landscape.

Receiving the award on behalf of GBC for the G Live building Cllr Jenny Powell said, I am delighted to receive this award for a project was delivered on time and on budget which is no mean feat these days. Neil Chapman, accepting the award on behalf of the Architects Austin, Smith & Lord said that the award was especially valued coming from the people of the town the building will serve. David Watts added in a comment that was received with considerable applause that he hoped it would be used for the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra. Alvin Hargreaves accepted the award on behalf of the management of G Live.

The Learning Centre – Commended

The Learning Centre, University of Surrey – Photo University of Surrey

Guildford Society Citation: This building is an excellent contemporary design that greatly enhances the area adjacent to the University Library and other academic buildings

Jonathan Richards on behalf of the university said: “This was a challenging project we had to plan very carefully to ensure that the work stages were correctly sequenced to fit in wit timetables and the usage of surrounding buildings.” A fellow university representative said: “It is interesting to see photos of the building empty. We never see it that way now. It is open 24/7 and the staff and students love it.”

Also accepting the award were: Matt Cartwright on behalf of architects RMJM and Russell Mead on behalf of Northcroft Project Management.

Steamer Trading, 168 High Street – Commended

Steamer Trading from North Street – Photo Doug Scott

Guildford Society Citation: This building is an outstanding example of contemporary design that brings a wholly new aspect to Guildford’s historic High Street.

Merilyn Spier said that it had been a problem finding worthy examples in the shop front section but Steamer Trading was a: “very fine contemporary design”.

Ben Philips accepting the award on behalf of Steamer Trading said that the shop had won an international prize, ‘The Best Cook-Shop In the World’: “but this one actually means more to us because it is from the people here. This was always going to be a controversial project because Guildford has a beautiful High Street… and we were advised to build a model to persuade people which we did… and now that model is a beautiful coffee table.”

Also accepting the award were: Mark Anderson of JDC Architects and Keith Tillman of Guard Tillman & Pollock, Architects.


Ms Spier said that the Society had been rather spoilt for choice in this category.

High House Barns Shere – Winner

High House Barn after restoration – Photo Shere Manor Estate

Guildford Society Citation: This complex of redundant architectural buildings has been sensitively restored for office use while maintaining the character of the buildings and surrounding land.

Handa Bray accepting the award on behalf of Shere Manor Estates said: “I am hugely honoured and delighted to receive this award because it recognises the excellence of the design by the architects and the craftsmanship of the builders. This is my legacy which I hope will enhance Shere for many, many years to come. The barns have been given a new lease of life and a new purpose in life… It is a true success story: a transformation to rejoice in and I do.”

Also accepting the award were Mike Staff of Nye Saunders Architects and Steven Lampard of Lampard and Partners.

Orange Court Barns, Littleton, Artington

Orange Court Farm after restoration – Photo Loseley Estate

Guildford Society Citation: This group of redundant agricultural buildings has been sensitively restored for residential and office use while maintaining the character of the buildings in their setting.

Michael More-Molyneux of Loseley Estate said: We are absolutely thrilled as a family and thankful to all those who have made this happen. I can remember when we used these barns to milk 200 Jersey cows and I have fond memories of helping with the calving in one of the barns too. We stopped milking there ten years ago, and as the buildings deteriorated one got more and more depressed. But now we do have something to be very proud of. We feel we have really done something which is a positive contribution to the village.

Also receiving the award were: Phil Acton of Philips Chartered Surveyors, Stuart Pearson of builders R W Armstrong and Alex Wilkes on behalf of project managers Batchellor Monkhouse.

20 Bury Fields

20 Bury Fields – Photo Nikki Ackerley

Guildford Society Citation: This complex of cottages in a  sensitive location in Guildford town centre has been imaginatively restored for residential and office use while maintaining the character of the street scene.

Developer Nikki Ackerly said: I am really chuffed to get this. I run a PR Agency and I spend my life writing about property awards so to get one, well I am absolutely delighted. It was a team effort… I love working there. There weren’t any real foundations and it was a bit touch and go… My son had the unenviable task of managing me as a client but I don’t think we had any arguments. Thank you it is a great honour.

Fellow award winners were: Michael Wilson of Michael Wilson Restorations and Ben Ackerly (son of Nikki) project manager.


Fox Corner Community Wildlife Area

Fox Corner Wildlife Area – Photo Doug Scott

Guildford Society Citation: This award is for newly introduced features including a board walk, dipping platform and enhanced access for wheelchair users. It has also recognised that maintaining a wildlife area takes significant skills that have been demonstrated by the staff of volunteers who look after the grounds that are open to the public at all times.

Catherine Cobley, Chairman of the Fox Corner Wildlife Area Association accepted the award saying: “This was not a commercial venture but a community project. The history of the project goes back 22 years. The site had been used by a disreputable owner for a second hand car trading business. It is a particular pleasure to have David Watts here because it was he, as the Chief Executive of Guildford Borough Council, that was very much in favour of taking the slightly unusual step of using a compulsory purchase order to obtain the site. And then the community came forward and said that they wanted to develop, together with the Council, a wildlife area.”


Guildford Parks & Open Spaces

Captain Chainsaw & The Tree Pirates creating the Riverside Walk – Photo GBC

Guildford Society Citation: This award is given in recognition of the outstanding contributions by both the Parks and Countryside Service and the Planning Service in the care and improvement of Guildford’s parks and open spaces under their management as well for their continual undertaking of regeneration schemes and new environment enhancement projects.

The award was received by the following GBC Officers and Councillors: Carol Humphrey, Head of Planning Service: Cllr James Palmer, Lead Member for the Town Centre; Phil Newcombe, Parks and Countryside Service, Cllr Matt Furniss, Lead Member for the Environment.

Carol Humphrey said thank you this is really a very, very special honour for us and I accept it on behalf of Guildford borough Council and in particular my colleagues in planning. It is particularly gratifying that the work of our team has been recognised with this special award.

Phil Newcombe said: It is a great privilege to be the custodian of something that is part of what makes Guildford very special. We are privileged to have our parks and open spaces in Guildford and it is also a privilege to have this award to take back to our staff to show that their work is appreciated.

Jabberwocky Trail in Allen House Grounds – Photo Doug Scott

What do you think of the prize winning designs? Give your view by using the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below. Your email address will not be published or shared.

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Responses to Guildford Society Give Their Annual Design Awards

  1. Carol Norris

    October 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    As a child, I used to live round the corner from 20 Bury Fields and remember when the building on the left of the picture was used by Mr Purser who created beautiful furniture from old wood. I have a dresser that he made for my mother from the old Guildford town bridge. Later on, when I worked at the Bellairs Studio of Dance and Drama, the same building was my office and I taught Dance in the building at the back of the site. The whole complex certainly looks a lot better now.

    • Nikki Ackerley

      October 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks Carol for your memories, I’ve always wondered what the library had once been used for. Sorry for the late reply, I went on holiday the day after the awards so only just catching up. As I said at the time, it’s a great building to work from; I think the new ground floor window to the side brings in so much light; we didn’t do it initially but it’s made such a difference. Thank you again. Nikki