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East Quay wins RIBA South West Building of the Year

20220501 Watchet LANDSCAPES 560

Arts venue East Quay in Watchet scooped three awards at this year’s RIBA South West Architectural awards. Including a Regional Award, Client of the Year for Onion Collective and the big one, Building of the Year.

Run by social enterprise Onion Collective CIC and designed by Invisible Studio and Ellis Williams Architects, East Quay is a cultural venue, home to two contemporary art galleries, 11 artist studios, a paper mill, a geology workshop, print studio, restaurant, education space and 5 extraordinary accommodation pods, all on the quayside in Watchet, on Somerset’s coast.

RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architecture, has been celebrating outstanding work for over 180 years. Their awards and prizes are regarded internationally as a mark of excellence, recognising the best architecture, architects, research and students. East Quay won Building of the Year from a shortlist of 23 buildings across the region. East Quay has been designed by Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio and Ellis Williams Architects. Its design intentionally reflects a contemporary version of Watchet, with the heavy base reflecting the harbour wall and surrounding cliffs, with characterful and idiosyncratic ‘human sized’ buildings above reflecting the eclectic and often unusual built environment of the town.

RIBA SW Building of the Year

Five extraordinary accommodation pods, two of which stand on stilts above the building, have been created for the adventurous traveller. Designed internally by architect-makers PEARCE+Fægen. Each of the 5 pods reflect Watchet in some way. Visitors can also enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at East Quay Kitchen, an in-house restaurant which has Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired dishes. East Quay also runs year-round events, offering music, theatre performances, art workshops and courses. There is also a year round education programme, run from the Creator Space which was designed with children from the local schools.

Georgie Grant, Onion Collective Co Director says:

“We are so delighted to win these awards for East Quay, they are testament to the hard work of everyone involved. East Quay demonstrates how imagination and community collective thinking can lead to buildings that support the well being of a place, its culture and sense of identity. This type of built environment is so important for the future of our towns. We are so proud this has been recognised by RIBA.”

Piers Taylor, Invisible Studio says:

“I’m thrilled that East Quay has been recognised in the RIBA South west Awards. These awards are the most important awards in the country, recognising architectural excellence. They are peer judged and the projects all visited by the awards jury. So, for East Quay to receive a regional award plus the Building of the Year award is truly fantastic. Plus, to see the Onion Collective recognised by the RIBA as client of the year is the highest validation of their extraordinary perseverance, tenacity and vision”

Image: East Quay credit: Joseph Horton

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