The Davidson Prize 2024

The Davidson Prize, now in its 4th year, held the award ceremony at Impact Hub in London Euston on June 19th as part of the London Festival of Architecture. Over 100 guests gathered to watch the Apartment Store team win both the main prize and the People's Choice, with over a quarter of the 1,800 votes.

The winner of the 2024 Davidson Prize design ideas competition was revealed on Wednesday 19 June at Impact Hub Euston as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

In a first for the Prize, the winning project Apartment Store led by architects Studio Saar also bagged the People’s Choice Prize – gaining almost a quarter of around 1,800 public votes.

The 2024 Davidson Prize brief ‘Rethinking Home – Adapt and Reuse’ invited multi-disciplinary creative teams to explore inventive solutions to housing shortage in the context of climate change. Teams were asked to investigate new ways of creating housing for ‘generation rent’ from existing or mined structures in combination with new bio-based or sustainable materials – rethinking traditional notions of what an ‘ideal home’ looks and feels like.

The winning project, Apartment Store focuses on a redundant Art Deco department store in Taunton, Devon, to explore how vacant retail space in the UK’s towns and cities could be reinvented as new homes and buzzing circular economy hubs. A collaboration between architect Studio Saar, developer Stories, placemaking consultant BAS, landscape architect Landstory and filmmaker Megaphone Creative, the model is designed to act as a defibrillator in increasingly hollowed-out town-centres. On Apartment Store’s upper levels, community owned and co-designed stepping-stone homes would be created using local skills and materials. The ground floor is dedicated to amplifying concepts of repair, making and biomaterials – including a tools library, education space and Commoning Room for local decision making about the circular economy – while the roof would be transformed into a garden for collective food growing.

Winners - Studio Saar / Landstory / Stories / BAS / Megaphone Creative

The two other finalists in line for the prestigious prize were Robin Hood Co-Living Community, a masterplanning proposal to transform an ex-airport near Sheffield into a new neighbourhood and productive landscape from Alma-nac, Constant SD, Eric Guibert and Mark Blackwell and Harlow Re-New Town, a model for reimagining and transforming the UK’s post-war housing stock rather than demolishing it from OEB Architects, YAA Projects, Nick Bano, Dominic Humphrey and Stuti Bansal.

The three finalist projects were selected by jury in April and each team was given £5,000 to develop their proposals and create a two-minute film. On 29 May the teams presented their propositions to the judging panel, which was chaired by Amandeep Singh Kalra (Associate Director at Be First) and comprised Duncan Campbell (Director at Atelier Ten), Alice Finney (Design Editor at Elle Decoration UK), Miles Mitchell (Commercial Lead for Total Synergy – headline sponsor of the 2024 Davidson Prize), Annalie Riches (Co-founder at Mikhail Riches) and Alexander Turner (Co-founder of Studio MUTT and representative of the 2023 Davidson Prize winning team).

This year nearly 40 teams rose to The Davidson Prize challenge, leading to a diverse and exciting longlist of 17 projects. Together the projects make up a rich resource of ambitious and innovative ideas on how creative design thinking can help deliver new housing in new ways in the era of climate change.

Amandeep Singh Kalra, Chair of the 2024 Davidson Prize jury, said: “It is no secret that the built environment accounts for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions and although the industry is waking up to this, more still needs to be done to help drive the debate forward if we are to make a difference. This year’s Prize provided the opportunity for creatives to join forces to find tangible housing solutions while tackling the climate crisis. Although choosing the winner was tough, we felt that Apartment Store would not only provide new, sustainable homes but would also address the challenge that high streets throughout the UK are facing, turning them back intro thriving hubs for the community. The jury could all see themselves living there – and clearly those voting in the People’s Choice agreed with us!”

For the first time since the Prize’s inception, one longlisted team was also awarded a Chair’s Highly Commended prize. The Pylon Network by Ground Practice (Tropisms / German Nieva, Yasmin Lennon-Chong, Elena Tamosiunaite) received an award from Amandeep Singh Kalra who felt they should be rewarded for an exciting proposal that was communicated in a simple but effective way.

Marie Chamillard, Director of The Davidson Prize said: “The innovation in the design thinking from the participants of The Davidson Prize never ceases to surprise me. Despite the seriousness of the challenges we face with both the climate and housing crisis, I was particularly struck by the creativity, ingenuity and sense of optimism in the submissions this year. I think this year’s judging sessions have been the most fun we have ever had.” 

The longlisted, finalist and winning entries can be explored on The Davidson Prize website. The theme for the 2025 prize will be announced later this year.

The 2024 Davidson Prize is sponsored by Total Synergy, a global leader in business management software and solutions for Architecture, Engineering and Construction design (AEC) businesses.

The Davidson Prize Award Ceremony and Party
The winner

Apartment Store

Studio Saar / Landstory / Stories / BAS / Megaphone Creative

This concept applies a defibrillator to the heart of the UK’s towns by reinventing vacant retail space as homes and a buzzing circular economy hub. Providing people with real-world examples of the ideal homes of the future – including how demolition materials can be repurposed and how locally grown bio-materials can create new business ventures – the proposal harnesses the civic pride of an ex-department store in Taunton while helping to halt development sprawl.

The Apartment Store team developed their proposal at Finalist stage by launching the website to engage Taunton’s communities with the concepts of co-design, community assets and the circular economy.

The team

Ben Stephenson, Placemaking Consultant

Megaphone Creative
Ben Mann, Filmmaker

Studio Saar
Jonny Buckland, Architect
Laura Virto Martinez, Architect

Paul Clark, Developer

Simon Brown, Landscape Architect

Runner up

Robin Hood Co-Living Community

Alma-nac / Constant SD / Eric Guibert / Mark Blackwell

Robin Hood Co-Living Community is an ambitious masterplanning proposal to transform an ex-airport near Sheffield into a new neighbourhood and productive landscape. The initiative is seeded by the settlers of a self-build community, who would create the first homes in an aircraft hangar out of parts of decommissioned planes. The collaboration included architects, academics, gardeners, structural and aerospace engineers.

The Robin Hood Co-Living Community team developed their proposal at Finalist stage by exploring in detail the materials reuse potential of a Boeing 777 and 6m-grid terminal building, as well as suggesting a runway-based masterplan for further housing.

The team

Rachel Foreman, Project Lead
Chris Bryant, Director

Constant SD
Brian Constant, Structural Engineer

University of Westminster / UCL
Dr Eric Guidbert, Gardener / Architect

Dr Mark Blackwell, Aerospace Engineer

Runner up

Harlow Re-New Town

OEB Architects / YAA Projects / Nick Bano / Dominic Humphrey / Stuti Bansal

Harlow Re-New Town is a model for reimagining and transforming the UK’s post-war housing stock rather than demolishing it. Focusing on Harlow’s 17 community ‘hatches’, the project proposes a Community Building Company to self-build affordable homes and shared spaces using recycled structures and components and locally grown biomaterials. The team included architects, writers, academics, an artist and a housing lawyer.

The Harlow Re-New Town team developed their proposal at Finalist stage by researching global compound house typologies and workshopping with local residents on the expression of collective identity in buildings and shared spaces.

The team

OEB Architects
Tessa Baird, Architect
David Eland, Architect

Architect / Academic / Writer
Nana Biamah-Ofosu, YAA Projects

Housing Lawyer / Author
Nick Bano

Urban Data Analyst
Dominic Humphrey

Moving Image Artist
Stuti Bansal

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