Thanks to The Guardian G2’s flagging up of the plethora of Hackney-hating blogs, smug Hackneyites have garnered a fair bit of attention of late. So, it was with much interest that news of the Hackney Design Awards plopped into the Design Week inbox.
Now, with a handful of us at Design Week living in the borough, we’d be more than prepared to defend it – despite the blogosphere ‘haterz’. However, even we were a bit surprised at some of the nominations on the shortlist.
The nominations were judged by experts in the field of architecture including Kieran Long, architecture journalist, critic and teacher; and Lisa Rigg of the Hackney Society. The key note speaker at the awards ceremony in November will be leading architect Sir Terry Farrell.
Among the more unexpected nominations were Mare Street Improvements, which is, as the name suggests, ‘improvements’ to the stretch of road between Amhurst Road and Brenthouse Road courtesy of Hackney Borough Council’s architects. So far, so little evidence of improvement…
Also raising the eyebrows of this Design Week reporter is the inclusion of the Urbanest student residence in Hoxton, from architects at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios; and the Wenlock Building’s residential units and office space, which to my eyes at least, somewhat spoils the otherwise beautiful appearance of that particular stretch of the canal.
On the other hand, controversial as it may seem, I’m pleased to see the mention of the new(ish) Hoxton overground station. I can’t get enough of this weird and wonderful building tucked away behind Kingsland Road, which, intriguingly, features floors that make your eyes go a bit funny if you stare at it too long.
I’m also rather partial to the striking Clapton Girls’ Technology College, E5, with the beautiful linear design and use of natural light; and of course, to the refurbished Grade II listed Stoke Newington Town Hall in all its Art Deco glory.
Other nominations include Stoke Newington School, Milton Gardens Youth Centre, N16, The Barn & Eco Garden, E8 Bridge Academy, E2, and the imposing 30 Crown Place, EC2, amongst others.
Whatever your opinions you have on the nominations, you needn’t keep them to yourself. For the first time, this year Hackney’ bi-annual Design Awards will be opening the voting to the public, giving us ‘real’ folk the chance to decide which of the borough’s developments should win the People’s Choice Awards.
To vote for the People’s Choice Award – and be in with the chance of winning one of 10 pairs of tickets to the awards ceremony, visit www.hackney.gov.uk/designawards. The closing date for voting is Monday 25 October 2010.