The best mixed-use developments from the last five years

We look at the Mixed Use Development projects that have won FX Awards over the last five years.

The deadline for entries to the 2020 FX International Design Awards is fast approaching! A competition that actively welcomes UK and international designers to enter, the FX Awards has categories for everyone from designers to suppliers, and projects to products. Interested in entering? Find out more here. The deadline for entering the 2020 FX International Design Awards is 25th July.

With this year’s Awards season around the corner, we chose to create a series that takes a look at some of the projects from the last five years that have won FX Awards, broken down into the Award categories. In this article, we're focusing on the projects that have won the Mixed Use Development Award from 2015-2019. As the FX Awards are judged by a passionate, independent panel of experts – which changes for every category, and every year – the projects have won the Mixed Use Development Award are truly the best in the world.


Spanish City, by ADP

Originally built as a showpiece, Spanish City is an iconic Grade II listed building that had fallen into serious disrepair and required a delicate restoration, in line with North Tyneside Council’s £6m seafront masterplan. The aim of the interior scheme was to restore and work with the historic nature of the building, while also revitalising the space by bringing in contemporary finishes, lighting and materials.

Image: Andrew Heptinstall

Contemporary conservation techniques were used to bring back the ornate plaster work, and ADP also made the decision to remove the central area of a first floor, returning Spanish City to its 1920s grandeur. The design team concealed services behind specially designed suspended acoustic, heating and lighting panels in the main dome. All internal public areas also enjoy level access and inclusive design, with the refurbishment providing new leisure facilities, a champagne bar, restaurants and event spaces.


The Department Store, by Squire & Partners

Taking a dilapidated and unoccupied 1906 former department store, Squire & Partners reimagined the building to create social and workspaces for a multidisciplinary design and architecture firm. The brief for the project included creating a series of units for local businesses, which included a coffee roaster, a vinyl record store, a restaurant, a delicatessen and a community Post Office. The Department Store now provides over 6,000sqm of workspace, event facilities and retail unites.

Image: James Jones

When work began, the building was stripped back to reveal and restore the original features including the 111-year-old Burmese teak parquet flooring, a grand tied staircase, and historic patina of colours. The renovation has transformed The Department Store’s ground floor into a striking reception area; on the lower ground floor is a large event space, cycle storage and changing rooms, while the first to third floors offer unique, open plan workspaces.


Lai Yard, by Minggu Design

A historic, listed building in the south of Nanjing, China, Lai Yard was carefully restored by Minggu Design to bring modern architecture and a traditional courtyard together in harmony. The brief of the project was to create some order and flexible space, which could be used for anything from meditation to school cases. For the project, Minggu Design created three enclosed courtyards where the trees and buildings interweave; meanwhile, the meditation area was designed to complement the traditional courtyard.

Photo: Xianwen Jin

Minggu Design made the decision to block incoming light on all sides except the south-east, which allows the natural light to move through the roof structures, creating atmosphere with the changing shades and angles as the day passes. Throughout the building, the design team have blended traditional and contemporary elements to make them harmonious, using the nature in the courtyard as inspiration for the design details.


Blake Tower, by Conran & Partners

Previously a YMCA youth hostel, Blake Tower is the fourth tower into the Barbican housing development, which was converted into 74 apartments by Conran & Partners. It was important to the design team to respect the building’s Sixties materiality and brutalist form, which is why the apartments’ contemporary design pays homage to the original architecture.

Image: Richard John Seymour, Conran and Partners CGI

Conran & Partners strategically adapted the building’s original layouts to create apartments with generously sized bedrooms, double-aspect living spaces, and express pick-hammered concrete walls; the iconic curve in the Barbican’s balustrades has also been subtly woven into the design. Complementing the distinctive brutalist elements are timber floors and refined brassware, and the team have focused on refined detailing and high-quality craftsmanship.


Spring Mews, by The Manser Practice

Set in an old industrial site, Spring Mews is a development that comprises student accommodation, a 93-bed suite hotel, a public realm, and office spaces. The brief behind the project was to provide a safe, creative and friendly student hub which would meet the modern requirements of student living. Boasting 378 bedrooms, the student accommodation includes a ground floor reception with a concierge, with the materials in the common areas reflecting the Victorian heritage of the site.

Image: Hufton +Crow & Jim Stephenson

Meanwhile, in the suite hotel, the interior had to comply with the brand’s standards while also finding a level of individuality. Interestingly, the original Staybridge brand was challenged, and this helped it move forwards to focus on being more ‘Home than Hotel’; the hotel was designed to suit contemporary lifestyle of modern guests, and also provides all the benefits of a hotel, while also allowing guests to have the comfort, freedom and flexibility they would expect at home.

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