For the second year running, Allies and Morrison has been shortlisted for the AJ Sustainable Practice of the Year for our work in the recycling of buildings for new uses, like the recently completed van Hasselt Centre at Cranleigh School.

Rather than build an entirely new building  for the School, we reinvented disused squash courts into a new shared space as the foundation for an altogether very different building. Wrapped around the old Courts are twenty-four classrooms, a significant expansion for the School with a new social space at its core.

As architects, we enjoy working with the pre-existing, often breathing new life into existing structures to give them a new future.

Another one of these projects sits within walking distance from our studios. The Crane Building  transformed a 1960s industrial printworks into a high-quality office building with an external envelope that is reminiscent of the industrial vernacular of its Southwark neighbourhood. Two floors were added, and the core was repositioned to create flexible space. Despite being a refurbishment, the intention was to produce a new building. This was achieved through a thorough analysis of the existing fabric, allowing the implementation of new details for all floors using a straight-forward material palette – its new tiled facade distinctive, however.

Another recent project has involved the revitalisation of a public open space in the City of London, opening up views and routes and providing a clear focus for front entrance for the late 1960’s Citypoint tower (refurbished by Sheppard Robson in 2001). New low-level timber slatted benches have been designed to define the space by framing areas of activity and concealing ventilation, replacing taller structures that had cluttered the square. The overall aesthetic has been softened, with existing structures re-clad in timber and the introduction of new planting and lighting. Together, these interventions create a more civic place as the main forecourt of the building and provides places for people to sit and have their lunch.

There lies much value in the ability to take a second look at forgotten spaces and to reimagine them. It creates not only an opportunity to build on the cultural and historical legacy of these structures but also is an intrinsically sustainable thing to do.