Awards 2019


Truthall Halt

(The Helston Railway Company)

Truthall Halt was built as a rural request stop on the Helston branch line to serve nearby Truthall, one of Cornwall’s oldest gentry seats. The halt comprised a platform with an enchanting corrugated iron shelter complete with Chinese pagoda-style roof. All structures were lost when the railway closed, leaving only railings and the old approach to the platform, a sad and gloomy reminder of a once delightful railway station.

Undaunted by its dereliction, the Helston Railway Preservation Company set about recreating the historic site. Over a five year period volunteers reconstructed the platform to its original design and the charming corrugated iron shelter was painstakingly rebuilt. Today the halt is the southern terminus of the Helston Railway although the aspiration is to extend the railway on to Helston. It is a place to gladden the heart. Few would not be moved by the sight of an exquisitely restored locomotive pulling a rake of historic coaches into this authentic station.

Recreating the shelter required considerable research and constructional ingenuity. The judges applauded both the Helston Railway’s technical prowess and their tenacity in bringing to fruition this wonderful reconstruction of one of Cornwall’s loveliest stations.


Fairglen Phase II

(Lilly Lewarne for Percy Williams and Sons)

It has long been a major challenge to find a model for mass housing that is environmentally positive, commercially viable and attractive to inhabit. At Fairglen, in Hayle, Percy Williams and Sons have produced a very good response to that challenge. The houses on this second phase of development are not only carbon neutral but are well and thoughtfully designed, offering compact civilised living spaces with impressively low energy costs.

Refreshingly the architects were prepared to depart from more conventional mass housing models to adapt higher density land use models such as terraces used with considerable success in some of Britain’s finer cities in former centuries. Fairglen II has experimented with, and cleverly reinterpreted the terrace, producing an aesthetically pleasing design which encourages community and permits individual privacy.

The judges were impressed by this original approach. The design and layout of the development was thoughtful however one reservation remained in that some of the public areas might have benefited from a greater share of the available space.


Sylvania House, Feock

(KAST Architects for Mr and Mrs Owers)

Pill Creek has become home to a series of iconic or semi-iconic Modernist houses built during the latter part of the twentieth century. Creek Vean by Team 4 set the standard closely followed by a series of statement houses of varying architectural distinctiveness, which set out to offer new models of domestic architecture. Although none of these houses successfully established a sense of Cornish distinctiveness, a number of them responded thoughtfully to their setting.

Sylvania House has continued this tradition. Comprising two timber and stone clad blocks set one above the other and at right angles, the upper block cantilevers out over the sloping site, creating an overall composition and proportion that responds well to its sylvan setting. There is more than a hint of Frank Lloyd Wright about the overall design.

The layout is thoughtful with a coherent plan and good circulation spaces, connecting the house well to its surroundings. The judges were a little curious about the choice of stone for cladding which, although well detailed, was not a truly local stone.


Rose Court, Truro

(SMT Associates for Mounts Bay Trading Company)

Converting redundant chapels is a problem of the age for Cornwall. Sadly, such conversions often reuse little of the original fabric leaving its religious purpose and function largely undiscernible. SMT Associates and the Mounts Bay Trading Company are to be commended for the successful way in which they have dealt with the difficulties of chapel conversions, turning one of Truro’s most significant nineteenth century chapels into an attractive set of apartments. In doing so the future of the building has been secured.

When considering such conversions, the judges look first, for the retention of original features in order to ensure that some of its character survives, and second for an imaginative reuse of the interior to produce attractive functional spaces. At Rose Court, this objective was achieved, particularly in the apartments which incorporated the fine roof timbers of the original chapel and those that benefitted from the ecclesiastical windows.

The judges welcomed the removal of later accretions and clutter at the back of the chapel which faces the public park. These improvements significantly enhance the public realm and strengthen the chapel’s sense of place in its surroundings.


Trenoweth House, Crowan (Groupwork+Amin Taha for Amin Taha)

Trenoweth House at Crowan was the former vicarage, built on an attractive site outside the village by the architect J.P. St Aubyn. It replaced a run down earlier vicarage. Built in the Tudor Gothic style, a form often used by St Aubyn, the vicarage fell out of use in the late 1970s and became an egg packing plant. For its commercial use the internal walls and fire places were removed to make space for a conveyor belt while the rest of the building was lined in expanded polystyrene to act as refrigerated storage.

The Grade II listed house became dilapidated in the 1980s but has now been sensitively restored with the surviving historical features carefully conserved. Where modern interventions were necessary, they were well designed and made thoughtfully. Although St Aubyn’s reputation has much suffered at the hands Charles Henderson, Sir John Betjeman and others, modern scholars are beginning to reappraise his work and take a more positive view of his output.

A delightful outcome of visiting this house was that one judge reinterpreted the date stone to read 1844, some 40 years earlier than the previous dating. This discovery makes Trenoweth one of the earliest of St Aubyn’s known works.


Furzy Close, Polzeath

(ARCO2 for Mr and Mrs Train)

This is a new house built on a prominent site overlooking Polzeath Bay. It replaced a twentieth century house. Furzy Close comprises a simple staggered double box design with the upper box angled to maximise views. Its timber frame is clad in a mix of timber, stone and render. The fenestration of the house makes the most of its prominent position, overlooking Polzeath Bay and Pentire Point.

The house has been constructed to a high environmental standard. It features some well-designed internal spaces, including a dog room and a yoga space which invites calm contemplation whilst featuring a cleverly focused view to the sea. The judges particularly liked the high ceilings and sense of space of the ground floor accommodation, a characteristic not common to many newly designed houses.

Whilst there were many aspects of the design which the judges found praiseworthy and they recognised the considerable thought that had gone into the overall shape and profile of the house, they would have liked to see more evidence of Cornish distinctiveness in the design, given its prominent position.