Winners of AJ Small Projects 2023 announced

The winners of the AJ’s ‘best in low cost design’ project awards were chosen for their Adelaide Street, Belfast scheme, which replaced a lane of vehicular traffic. With a half kilometer of urban garden and new public space.

Designed for incidental play and containing 140m2 of new planting, it offers a resource for local residents with little previous access to outdoor playspace or gardens – and has unexpectedly created a new habitat for hawk moth caterpillars, too.

Judges said Adelaide Street was an example of people-centred placemaking and collaboration in what is still a stubbornly car-centric city, with the installing setting a ‘blueprint’ for similar schemes in Northern Ireland and beyond.

The panel added that ‘giving back the road as a community asset is interesting while retaining the traffic’, and that the installation formed a part of the planned reinhabitation of Belfast’s center over the next 10 to 20 years.

Two sustainability prizes were awarded for the first time in Small Projects’ 28-year-history. These were for the Boathouse by Ashworth Parkes Architects and Black Barn Studios by Charlie Luxton Design.

Both were determined as strong contenders for the lessons that can be learned from environmentally sustainable design, including the importance of data tracking as well as construction and materiality.

Bogor Mushola by Caukin Studio took the People’s Choice award, winning nearly 40 per cent out of the votes received from AJ readers in an online poll.

The timber-framed structure, which serves as a prayer facility and community center for Bogor in West Java, consists of one main space adjacent to a small, covered veranda and washrooms. Seismic activity in the Indonesian province was taken into consideration during the design process.

More than 170 entries were received from all around the country for this years awards, sponsored by Marely, which were whittled down to a shortlist of 20. They range from a boathouse to a bench, a prayer room to a workplace-cum-recording studio , and a bridge to an urban garden and play structure.

On Wednesday (3 May) the shortlisted designers presented their projects to the panel of judges in a crit-style format. The awards were announced later in the day at a free-to-attend event held at the London offices of Morris + Company in Hackney.

The panel of judges included: Esther Everett, head of design development at the London Legacy Development Corporation; Pedro Gil, director at Studio Gil; and Louis Jobst, director at Akin Studio and winner of last year’s award.

Previous winners include Rashid Ali Architects, Carmody Groarke, Haworth Tompkins, David Leech Architects, HawkinsBrown, Kate Darby Architects and Mole Architects.

All entries to this year’s awards are free to view in the AJ Buildings Library with the full shortlist available here. Copies of the AJ Small Projects special issue are available to buy from the AJ shop.

AJ Small Projects is sponsored by


Missed the awards night?

You can still visit the exhibition at Morris+Company’s offices in Hackney (through the EDIT restaurant entrance) at these times:

May 4-26, 2023 9-9pm

Address 217 Mare Street, London E8 3QE

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo

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