The Malta Independent 22 September 2020, Tuesday

Maltese architecture and design firm shortlisted for prestigious UK award

Tuesday, 28 July 2020, 12:57 Last update: about 3 months ago

Mizzi Studio is honoured to have been shortlisted at the 2020 Building Design (BD) Architect of the Year awards. The studio's acclaimed bronze landmark, The Serpentine Coffee House, sited in London's beloved Hyde Park, as well as its Family Fleet of kiosks across The Royal Parks, have earned the studio a place as a finalist in the Small Projects category.

Hundreds of entries to the industry acclaimed Building Design (BD) Architect of the Year awards have been narrowed down to a shortlist of finalists. The award programme runs annually and is a staple in the UK architectural calendar, with many high-profile architects having won titles in previous editions. The awards recognise architects for an entire body of work and their contribution to specific industry sectors as opposed to singular projects. This year's shortlist announcement was delivered virtually on the Building Design website as part of a day of online events including panel discussions with leading practitioners, one of which discussed the role of social value in architecture.

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"We are honoured to have made the shortlist for the BD Architect of the Year awards," director Jonathan Mizzi said. "Not just because of the prestige of this longstanding awards programme, but also because of the editorial direction that BD has taken this year. Their focus on the social impact of architecture is an area that truly resonates with us as a team - it represents our constant intention to make a positive contribution to society through design."

Mizzi Studio's drive to generate architecture that responds to a social and sustainable agenda is exemplified by their recent work across London's Royal Parks. The Serpentine Coffee House, which was voted by Guardian readers as one of the top 10 works of modern architecture in Europe, is a sculptural, bronze landmark that welcomes visitors with its friendly smiling façade as they approach Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens.

The Coffee House has been conceived as a thoughtful reflection and response to its surrounding Grade I listed landscape, designed as an open, semi-transparent glass pavilion, with mullions evoking pagoda architecture traditionally seen in Japanese teahouses. Its undulating roof mirrors the motion of a stingray in flight, drawing visitors to its shaded indoor and outdoor seating and presenting itself as a confident new piece of public realm.

Complementing the Coffee House are the studio's Family Fleet of timber and brass kiosks, which spread across Hyde Park, St James' Park and Green Park. Each of the structures work to integrate effectively within their surrounding landscape, acting also as mindful neighbours to historic buildings beyond. The kiosks maximise on efficiency within their limited footprint and are each freestanding and transportable for flexible use. They stand as minimal bulbous structures that pepper across the parks, functioning as both resting points and wayfinding landmarks.

"Our work has one main ambition - no matter its size or scope. That is to actively give back to its setting and the people who live within it," Mizzi said. "We work hard to design spaces that are congruent to their context, that show respect, and that bring about an overwhelmingly positive impact. We have been so touched by the way our designs have been received by the public. This peer recognition adds to that feeling of encouragement, which is important at every stage of an architect's career."

Thomas Lane, chair of the awards' judging panel, remarked on the quality of the 2020 submissions as having been "first-rate". "We were pleased to see entries from a good mix of well-established practices and some AYA newcomers," Lane said. "It's been fantastic to see people, who haven't entered before, putting through some exceptional work."

The winners of the Architect of the Year awards will be announced at a gala dinner on 23 October at The Brewery in central London.


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