Building Beauty Awards

Have you seen or designed a beautiful new building lately?

£10,000 prize for the architect or designer of the overall winner

Welcome to the website of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust Building Beauty Awards, sponsored by Ballymore.

The awards celebrate the best of beautiful new architecture – and because each one of us is affected by the presence or absence of beauty, we’d like your input. Can you think of a beautiful new building (completed in the UK since the start of 2019) that makes you happy, that you would take a detour to see, that makes a street you know a more delightful place? If so, we invite you to nominate it for a Building Beauty Award using the tab on the right. Entering is free, quick and easy. The deadline for the first ever Building Beauty Awards, to be presented in London in summer 2022, is 31 March 2022.

There are also categories for engineering structures, public spaces and small physical interventions (we’re calling them Little Gems) that make a neighbourhood a jollier place to be. So don’t forget to nominate whatever piece of creative excellence gives you a lift whenever you see it.

The designer of the overall winner will be awarded £10,000 and invited to help select the recipients of our new Building Beauty Grants. These grants are aimed at promoting small beautification projects – physical interventions that make the public realm look better, and therefore work better. You can read more about them, and apply for a grant, here. Applications for 2022 grants should be sent in by 1 June 2022.

Why these awards?

There are plenty of architecture awards, so why these ones? We’re starting them because architecture is the only art that none of us can avoid. Whether we spend much time thinking about architecture or not, we all consume it on some level, whether we live or work in a building, visit it, pass it by or just glimpse it on the morning commute. In a fractured world, it’s one of the last great shared experiences.

And what we see affects our mood. Buildings have the power, at their best, to lift us up – at their worst, to depress us. Between one extreme and the other, the impact on our wellbeing can be considerable. So every one of us has skin in this game, and we all have a right to say what works for us.

Of course we know that successful architecture is about more than surface appearance. There are lots of things a building ought to be, functional and sustainable among them. But the outside of a building is all most of us see of it; so how it presents itself externally is important. When buildings delight those who have to look at them, they add real social value.

Why now?

Beauty in buildings is highly topical, and rightly so. The National Planning Policy Framework is being rewritten to give councils more power to reject applications on aesthetic grounds. Whether a building is beautiful really does affect whether it gets built.

And so to get planning permission, people will need to think about what makes a building beautiful. In practical terms, whether they are deemed to have succeeded will be a matter for local councils and their planning committees. But as we know, local authority resources are limited and their judgements aren’t always consistent. They are going to need guidance. The Government will give them some, in the form of design codes.

But it will still be useful, we think, for planning committees and developers to have a body of live examples to draw on. By holding up examplars and advertising excellence, we hope these awards will help.

We’re assembling a stellar panel of award judges. Not everyone, of course, will agree with their conclusions. We don’t expect them to or even necessarily want them to. What we want to do is provoke debate and get people thinking – and then, we hope, get them demanding buildings that look good and make our daily lives richer and better.