Prize-winning centre that broke the mould

Properties ranging from an art centre to an office block have been flagged up as some of the best the region has to offer.

Properties ranging from an art centre to an office block have been flagged up as some of the best the region has to offer.

The Rivergreen Centre, at Aykley Heads, County Durham, was awarded the title of Project of the Year 2007 at the North East Renaissance Awards.

The green credentials of the multi-award winning centre clearly impressed the judges and helped it beat off strong challenges from other landmark developments across the region.

The annual awards - presented by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors - recognise the best in the built environment and are open to all building, construction and landscaping projects in the region.

There are eight categories - Building Conservation, Regeneration, Sustainability, Community Benefit, Commercial, Residential, Tourism and Leisure and Innovation and Design - and the winners battle it out for the title RICS North East Project of the Year.

This year saw a record entry of 55 projects, pitching multi-million developments such as Middlesbrough's Institute of Modern Art against much smaller projects like the St Mary the Virgin Chapel, Shepherd's Law, Northumberland.

Project of the Year the Rivergreen Centre is a large two-storey office development near Durham, designed by Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall Architects.

A low impact, environmentally sensitive building, it features solar panels, `windcatchers' for ventilation, wood-pellet burning boilers, sedum blankets on the roof and recycles rainwater. With a high degree of timber in its construction, it sits naturally in its environment.

Durham-based RICS North operations director Jennifer Welch said: "As an exercise in `doing things differently', the Rivergreen Centre is an exemplar project. This bold development has broken the mould for commercial development and proved that a creative approach to design and the inclusion of sustainable technologies can be combined to make a building that is successful both economically and for the end user. Rivergreen is a deserved winner of this year's RICS North East Renaissance Awards Project of the Year Award."

The judges clearly thought the building outstanding as it won three categories - Sustainability, Commercial and Design and Innovation as well as the top award.

Other category winners:


Culture Lab, Newcastle University


Horton Park Office Complex, Newcastle


The St Martins Centre, Byker, Newcastle


Westoe Crown Village, South Tyneside


Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and Public Square

Two short-listed entries also received commendations - Newcastle College's Lifestyle Academy and St Mary the Virgin Chapel, at Shepherd's Law, Northumberland.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer