Plymouth architects ‘on a roll’ with further awards success

The Plymouth architecture firm Form Design Group has continued its award-winning form, with top accolades from the Michelmores Property Awards for two very different projects.

The Nelson Project in Plymouth, a self-build residential scheme for ex-service personnel in a regeneration zone of the city, was the outright winner in the Alternative Property Investment category, while the conversion and repurposing of the Grade Two listed Higher Mill buildings at Buckfast Abbey on Dartmoor was judged Heritage Project of the Year.

The Nelson Project had already won a Royal Town Planning Institute award for planning excellence in May, and the Abercrombie Award for design excellence and innovation earlier this year.

Graham Lobb, founder of the Form Design Group, said: “We’re on a roll, and it’s fantastic. These awards demonstrate the wide variety of design work undertaken by our team. We’re fortunate to be offered the opportunities to undertake such commissions, which recognise and celebrate the creative talents of our practice and the benefits good design can bring to ordinary people’s lives.”

While the Form Design Group has an outstanding track record and can take credit for many of Plymouth’s most successful regeneration schemes, it is unusual for an architecture firm to win awards in so many widely differing fields.

The Nelson Project is a partnership between Plymouth City Council, the housing company Liverty, the Community Self Build Agency (CSBA) and the Home and Communities Agency.

During the course of the project, ex-service personnel helped with the construction of the 24-home site, which includes12 homes for military veterans and 12 mixed use affordable homes, including supported housing.

The veterans completed a course which gave them the skills they needed to engage with the project, and equipped them to seek jobs in civilian life. Thanks to this training, many achieved accreditation from CSCS, the leading skills certification scheme within the UK construction industry.

At the Michelmores awards, held at Exeter University on June 7th, the judges said: “The most outstanding element was the rehabilitation programme of military veterans who built the development and have now gained construction skills.”

In contrast to the contemporary style of the Nelson Project and others bearing the Form Design Group stamp in Plymouth, the Higher Mill conversion had to retain or incorporate all the original structures and the remains of the industrial machinery, while repurposing the buildings as practical workspaces.

“It was a very tough project,” Graham admitted. ”The complexity of this scheme demanded great sensitivity to the existing fabric of the building, rendering spaces, and introducing contemporary architectural interventions to maximise daylight penetration and open of views of the Abbey and the surrounding countryside.”

The Form Design Group has already won other awards for buildings in the Leisure and Hospitality and Healthcare sectors, and the latest recognition by Michemores builds upon their reputation for versatility as well as innovation and flair.

It is a key partner in the Oceansgate project for Plymouth City Council, the largest marine industrial campus in the country, and continues to be at the forefront in delivering design-led solutions for a wide variety of sectors in the local economy.