Sergison Bates’ pilot project to retrofit the two villas and connect them to two new buildings in the Flemish town of Kortrijk, in collaboration with Studio Thys Vermeulen, was backed by the Ministry for Welfare and the Vlaams Bouwmeester (Flemish Government Architect). It is the third care home Gabriëls Webb has designed for the practice in Europe, having joined in 2011.
The judges felt her ‘special’ and ‘optimistic’ work on this project really set a precedent and would love to see it rolled out within the UK – where there is a real need for projects like this.
‘Her work really challenges expectations of the way we develop architecture – by unlearning and listening,’ they said.
They pointed to the important aspect of social sustainability as well. ‘This is architecture actually changing lives as well as saving lives,’ they said, adding: ‘This is something which really distinguishes her project.’
Justinien Tribillon wrote in February’s Architectural Review of the scheme: ‘To spend time in a nursing home is testing emotionally, bringing back painful memories of watching loved ones fade away in bleak environments – a far cry from the building I visited today.’
Gabriëls Webb, who was born in Belgium, studied in Germany before gaining professional experience in The Netherlands ahead of moving to London. She became an associate at the practice’s London office in 2014.
Also shortlisted for the MJ Long Prize were Jennifer Dyne of David Kohn Architects, Imogen Softley Pierce of Hugh Broughton Architects and Amy Waite of Mikhail Riches.
The MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice, part of the AJ/AR’s W Awards, is open to UK-based female architects and is judged on an overall body of work with the emphasis on a recently completed project.
Last year’s winner was Islington Council architects design team leader Fiona Monkman for her work on Centurion Close, a 100 per cent social-rent housing scheme in Islington.
The award, named in memory of inspirational architect, lecturer and writer Mary Jane (MJ) Long, was judged by architectural broadcaster Kunle Barker, previous MJ Long winner Fiona Monkman, writer and curator Ruth Lang and MJ Long’s daughter, Sal Wilson. The panel was chaired by AJ technical editor and deputy architecture editor Fran Williams.
The winner was announced at the W Lunch, sponsored by Roca, which took place on Friday, 3 May at Battersea Arts Centre.
Meanwhile, the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture was awarded to Viviana Pozzoli, co-founder of Paraguay-based practice Equipo de Arquitectura. The award recognises excellence in design and a bright future for international designers under the age of 45.
Pozzoli was awarded for an early childhood centre in Villeta in Paraguay. Her work navigates the social, ecological and economic challenges of working in Paraguay to create buildings rooted in their place.
The studio, co-founded with Horacio Cherniavsky in 2017, is interested in raw earth as a primary construction material, as shown on its early childhood centre in Villeta and the Intermediate House in Asunción.
The judges said: ‘There is something very true and honest about the work Pozzoli is making, responding to the local climate and context and with an impressive emphasis on daylight and air.
‘The technologies that the practice is developing can be used by local communities without their input. It is a complete architecture, encompassing ecology, materiality and research.’
Highly commended was Loreta Castro Reguera, co-founder of Taller Capital, for its growing portfolio of public space projects, including Parque Xicoténcatl in Tijuana and Parque Bicentenario in Ecatepec on the periphery of Mexico City. Judging the Moira Gemmill prize was chief executive of Open City Phineas Harper; previous W Awards winners Swati Janu and Sheila O’Donnell and the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Karen Livingstone.
The shortlist also featured Studio Ossidiana in The Netherlands and Ghana and US-based Limbo Accra – completing a list of practices working locally and internationally on built work, research, exhibitions and in education.
Last year’s Moira Gemmill Prize was awarded to Swati Janu, founder of Social Design Collaborative, for her work in the city of Dehli and the territory around the Yamuna River, equipping local communities with the skills to navigate complex planning processes that seek to evict them.
Both prizes form part of the AJ and AR’s W Awards, which celebrate exemplary work of all kinds, from the design of the world’s most significant new buildings to contributions to wider architectural culture, from lifetimes of achievement to the work of women with bright futures ahead.
The winners of the 2023 Jane Drew and Ada Louise Huxtable prizes, announced in January, are Kazuyo Sejima and Phyllis Lambert. There is also an inaugural Prize for Research in Gender and Architecture, awarded to Part W for its mapping project, Women’s Work: London.