Waugh Thistleton named Architect of the Year in AJ Architecture Awards 2023

Architect of the Year is sponsored by

Sharing of knowledge is something Waugh Thistleton also leads the way on. Last month, a consortium including the practice plus University College London, Buro Happold and Gardiner & Theobald released The New Model Building, a set of readily accessible design principles demonstrating how mass timber can be used safely to construct residential buildings up to 18m high in full compliance with UK building regulations and local policy. The New Model Building also has the support of insurance and warranty providers – a huge step forward in renewing the UK’s confidence around the use of this renewable and low-carbon material. 

It is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy sources and has over a third less embodied carbon than comparable six-storey structures due to its mass timber construction. A clear winner in its  Workplace Project (up to £20 million) category, the judges were particularly impressed by the practice and its relationship with ‘savvy’ workplace provider client The Office Group, saying, ‘it’s a very good example for other practices to follow.’ It sets a precedent, not only in its forward-thinking construction, but holistically on its social agenda – a mentorship programme was run in collaboration with POoR Collective to champion and educate young designers while they created pieces for the scheme. 

In September the practice put forward plans to transform the abandoned Grade II*-listed Grimsby Ice Factory into offices, studios and maritime renewable energy research space. The iconic redbrick complex, which has lain empty since its closure in the 1990s and was named among Europe’s seven most endangered heritage sites in 2017 by Europa Nostra, will be made wind and watertight with a sensitive restoration as part of the wider site’s masterplan. 

In the face of the climate crisis, Waugh Thistleton is a worthy winner for its ability to work within the constraints of very challenging policy yet create cutting-edge, sustainable architecture. Not only that, it is also prompting the whole industry to raise its game.

What a year it has been for Waugh Thistleton. The practice is well known for being a longstanding advocate of timber as a sustainable alternative to conventional building materials and has pushed hard for its adoption despite challenges and setbacks in terms of post-Grenfell fire regulations and insurance issues.

The 2023 AJ Architecture Awards are supported by 


The year started with the completion of its Black & White Building in Shoreditch, which, at 17.8m-tall, is central London’s tallest engineered-timber building. The building made headlines as a case study of a ‘boundary-pushing sustainable workspace’. 

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