Blog | Wakefield Civic Society Design Awards announced

Wakefield Civic Society

an organisation dedicated to making Wakefield a better place in which to live, work or relax.

Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Wakefield Civic Society Design Awards announced

Posted on 15 March 2012 by

Press Release: Wakefield Civic Society recognises the very old and the very new in its 2012 Design Awards.

A mediaeval monks’ refectory and a twenty-first century art gallery feature in this year’s list of design awards announced by Wakefield Civic Society.

The results were announced this Thursday, 15th March, at the Civic Society’s AGM, with brass plaques presented to the winners by the Mayor of Wakefield Councillor Ros Lund.

Kevin Trickett President of the Wakefield Civic Society said “For the second year running, the economic situation has had an impact on the number of schemes coming through and this is reflected in the low number of nominations this year compared with recent years. However, where there is still quality to be found in some of the new and refurbishment projects that have been completed and the Society is delighted once again to be able to recognise these in its annual awards for 2012.”

In the new build category, The Hepworth Wakefield carried off the prize. The judges admired the way that the new gallery sits within the landscape, appearing to rise from out of the river. It does not dominate its neighbours and the overall design reflects the scale of the other industrial buildings in the area while also suggesting something of Barbara Hepworth’s work. Kevin Trickett said “In many ways, the new gallery is something of a ‘Marmite’ building, people either love it or loathe it, but our judging panel loved it – as I think more and more people are coming to do as the gallery establishes itself. While the award we are making recognises the quality of the design and its execution, we also have to recognise the fact that the new gallery has been very successful in attracting visitors to the city from all over the country and abroad.”

A close contender for the prize in the new build category was Trinity Walk. In the end, however, the judges decided that a commendation was a more fitting recognition for this scheme.

The panel admired the way in which the new shopping centre integrated with the existing street pattern and noted some pleasing aspects – for example, they considered the north-east elevation of the Debenhams store to have merit when viewed from Marsh Way – but overall, the scheme was not judged to be sufficiently outstanding to qualify for an award.

Kevin Trickett explained “Again, this has been another huge success for the city in terms of visitor numbers and the development has certainly helped to breathe some life back into the city centre but I think the judges were disappointed that some of the design concepts that were proposed when the scheme was first envisaged were dropped when the scheme had to be rescued part-way through its construction. Nonetheless, the commendation that has been given by the Society recognises that this is a well-executed scheme that has had a major impact on the city.”

Also scoring a commendation in the new build category was a scheme of a much smaller scale than either The Hepworth or Trinity Walk. The judges were impressed by the design concept for Clarence Court and Clarence Gardens, an adult training centre with residential accommodation on Lawefield Lane. While clearly built with a much smaller budget, this development by Wakefield Council went beyond what could have been done to provide a unique and pleasing design that is ideally suited to the people who make use of the facility.

In the refurbishment category, two properties received awards. The mediaeval Monks’ Refectory at Nostell Business Park has recently been refurbished from little more than a derelict shell into a modern office suite. As part of the on-going development of the business park, this was a major refurbishment project of an ancient monument and one that has been sympathetically undertaken. Many of the original timbers have been preserved, being integrated into the design and layout of the offices, combing modern facilities with historic detailing.

The second property to receive an award in this category was the former kennel block at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Originally built for the Bretton Hall estate, the building had been used as a students’ bar when the college was based there. Now, completely refurbished as the Rushbond Building: YSP Learning and Café, the building is now a pleasant place to have coffee and light refreshments for visitors to the sculpture park while upstairs there is a learning and education centre.

Kevin Trickett said “Once again, the judges were presented with two schemes of very high quality that showed how sympathetic and imaginative restoration can give new life to old buildings. There are lessons here that the owners of other old properties could usefully follow.”

No doubt reflecting the economic situation, there were very few nominations in the remaining categories. In the shop front category, Bliss Boutique on Little Westgate received a commendation for the neat design and lettering of the fascia, while, in the restaurant and café bar category, Joe’s Diner also received a commendation for an innovative treatment of a rather bland building. Kevin Trickett explained “All too often in city centres, we see shop owners vying for attention with cheap, poorly designed shop fronts and signage that actually repels rather than attracts. It is, therefore, always a delight to see proprietors taking care to ensure that the design of their shop fronts and signage bears some relation to the architectural style of the building in which their premises sit. These two properties approach this objective from different ends. Bliss Boutique recognises the age of the building and the proprietor has selected a colour scheme and lettering style than befits the architecture of the building. Meanwhile, Joe’s Diner adds colour and vibrancy to a rather tired part of Wakefield. It brings a joyful touch of 1950s American glamour to Wakefield.

There were no nominations, and therefore no awards, in the residential category.

The full results of the Wakefield Civic Society 2012 Design Awards are:

Best new development:

  • The Hepworth Wakefield – Wakefield Council


  • Trinity Walk – Sovereign Land, Shepherd Construction and AREA Property Partners consortium
  • Clarence Court & Clarence Gardens – Wakefield Council (Design NPS Ltd)

Best Refurbishment:

  • The Refectory, Nostell Business Park
  • The Rushbond Building: YSP Learning and Café

Best shop front:

  • Bliss Boutique, Little Westgate

Best public house, café bar or restaurant frontage:

  • Joe’s Diner, The Springs

Best new residential development (6 or more apartments or houses)

  • No nominations or awards

Judges for this year’s competition were Angie de Courcy Bower, Darren Byford, Rick Hayward, Harry Livesey, Robert Powell and Kate Taylor.