Building Beauty Awards

The Coventry Society has put forward Abbott’s Park for the Royal Fine Arts Commission’s Building Beauty Awards 2022. We believe that this development fits the criterial for a feature of beauty which adds to our environment

The Royal Fine Arts Commission Trust has invited submissions for buildings and spaces that celebrate the best of beautiful new architecture. Abbott’s Park has been submitted in the public spaces category.

The Fine Arts Commission states “We’re starting [these awards] because architecture is the only art that none of us can avoid. Whether we spend much time thinking about architecture or not, we all consume it on some level, whether we live or work in a building, visit it, pass it by or just glimpse it on the morning commute. In a fractured world, it’s one of the last great shared experiences.

“And what we see affects our mood. Buildings have the power, at their best, to lift us up – at their worst, to depress us. Between one extreme and the other, the impact on our wellbeing can be considerable. So, every one of us has skin in this game, and we all have a right to say what works for us.

“Of course, we know that successful architecture is about more than surface appearance. There are lots of things a building ought to be, functional and sustainable among them. But the outside of a building is all most of us see of it; so how it presents itself externally is important. When buildings delight those who have to look at them, they add real social value.”

Lord Foster of Thames Bank OM will present the awards in London on 27 October 2022. The designer of the overall winner will be awarded £10,000 and the winning project will be automatically shortlisted for a new International Building Beauty Prize to be presented at the World Architecture Festival in Lisbon in December 2022.

Abbott’s Park is the new park that connects the City Centre to Naul’s Mill Park and a network of open spaces running northwards. It includes the creation of the Naul’s Mill “underpark” in the area formerly used for storage under the Ring Road. The “underpark” is a vibrant urban space connecting to inner city life, breaking down the ‘concrete collar’ of the Ring Road. It breathes new life and playfulness into a dark, redundant storage space and is now a place for communities to traverse, rest and play.

Abbott’s Park surrounds the re-created Radford Brook. It runs through the site with a new wild flower meadow on either side, creating an ecologically rich corridor and giving a sense of calm and serenity.

The ‘Zen arch’ is the centrepiece taking its inspiration from Japanese gardens and symbolising the world of man and nature. A generous circular lawn framed by an arc of newly planted mature trees remembers the circular gas holders that more recently stood on the site.

“The link” is an attractive winding path giving the sense of a countryside walk transitioning from the city centre to Naul’s Mill Park where the pond has been naturalised to create a beautiful space for people and wildlife.

The development has been led by Complex Development Projects and will form the centre piece of a new high rise housing development on the former Abbott’s Lane Gasworks. In our view it is unique for a developer to create the open space in advance of the housing development.

This project creates beauty out of the ugliness of a derelict gasworks and the unused space under an elevated road. It connects the city centre to a network of suburban open spaces via a pattern of contrasting and beautiful spaces.

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