Circus Street, a mixed-use scheme in Brighton by shedkm, has been named AJ100 Building of the Year 2022.
This year’s winner is not a single building but an ensemble – a new piece of city stitched into the urban grain of Brighton.
‘It’s a complex site but dealt with well. Super-impressed by it,’ said one judge of the mixed-use Circus Street development. Another described it as ‘impressively filling a hole in the urban fabric’.
Circus Street develops a city-centre site previously occupied by a fruit and veg market, which had become derelict. It has been delivered as a public-private partnership between U+I and Brighton and Hove City Council.
After shedkm won a shortlisted competition for the scheme, extensive community consultation followed. More than 100,000 people attended workshops and activities hosted over two years in a disused market building.
The scheme’s range of uses include mixed-tenure residential – comprising 114 one and two-bed flats for market sale, 28 affordable homes and 450 student apartments – alongside a combination of retail and commercial office space and a cultural venue: a home for South East Dance. ‘It’s a really impressive mix,’ commented a judge, ‘providing the bones of a new neighbourhood.’
The main elements are a series of five-storey slab blocks and two towers, one residential and one workplace, all set around two green courtyards, with the dance venue sitting off a more public square. The ensemble was praised by judges for its handling of massing and scale, which one judge said was ‘dealt with deftly and sensitively’. The scheme’s permeability and views through the site were also commended.
Although the scheme was delivered via Design and Build, the judges said that ‘the quality of detailing looks fantastic’ and the whole project had the feel of a real labour of love. They also praised ‘the big and simple spaces’ of the office and workplace interiors, one describing the space of the dance venue as ‘wonderful’.
Cllr Phélim MacCafferty, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that Circus Street has won this prestigious national award. Winning the Architects’ Journal ‘Building of the Year’ celebrates the rebuilding of this area as one of the best developments across the entire nation. It’s also testament to the hard work of the architect, shedkm, the developer U+I and key partners of the city council, such as South East Dance and the University of Brighton.
“This is a huge achievement for Brighton & Hove and speaks to our commitment to quality building design, jobs, homes, opportunities as well as a brand new neighbourhood, which sits so well in its proximity to Valley Gardens and The Royal Pavilion. Having been involved in this project for a decade, this award is merely the latest. I would like to congratulate the architects shedkm and the whole team at U+I.”