Architecture student, University of Nottingham
"I was surprised and delighted to hear my project had won the AJ undergraduate student prize, especially with so many other great projects in the shortlist. All the winning projects chosen by the judging panel dealt with climate change in different ways, from retrofit, to use of sustainabilty materials to questioning why and who builds new buildings. It feels reassuring that industry leaders are interested in alternative ways of reducing our impact on the environment than simply focussing on building thermally efficient new buildings, especially in a country with so much existing building stock."
The project looks at sustainable development through the repair and adaptation of a series of derelict railway warehouses in the south-east of Nottingham’s city centre. This area was cleared in the 1980s to make way for a large-scale development which was never realised. The thesis suggests a grassroots method of development should be employed on site, putting the needs of the community over profit and achieved through self-build, community ownership and slow development – but first opening the land up as unprogrammed public space. The warehouses will be converted into a building centre to provide materials, prefabricated elements and training. Part factory, part school, the centre will construct itself stage-by-stage, all inspired by Brussels-based design practice Rotor, which specialises in deconstruction/reconstruction. The overarching attitude is one of ‘making do’. Interventions in the existing buildings are made appropriate to their specific case, rather than following an aesthetic theme.
"Oliver’s well-judged resolution derives from carefully developed strands. It proposes an alternative economic model based on self-build, community-led programmes and addresses the city’s need for training. Founded on a long-term vision that is committed to sustainability, its viability lies in its incremental approach in which the land and buildings are developed in stages." Rosamund Diamond