Azman Architects have won the prestigious competition sponsored by Somfy Ltd
to create a thriving high quality Café Bar at the entrance to the Royal
Institute of British Architects at 66 Portland Place, London. Azman Architects
design was chosen from four shortlisted schemes, selected from over 50 expressions
The shortlisted practices were acq Architects, Azman Architects, Blauel Architects
and Universal Design Studio. Competitors were set the challenge of designing
a contemporary facility that enhances the main entrance foyer of the RIBA’s
Grade ll* listed 1930s headquarters building.
In addition to the café and bar functions, it is anticipated that the space
will be used to promote architecture to all visitors of the building. A new
approach is being developed for the foyer reception area in parallel with this
competition and the winning designers may participate in this process. By day
the café/bar will be a dedicated café space providing light catering and open
to all visitors to the building.
By evening it will be a bar for the use of RIBA members, their guests and
those attending RIBA events.
The judges were looking for the highest quality in design and specifications
to enhance the interior of the building whilst addressing the practical issues
of maintenance and budget. The judging panel included Simon Allford, RIBA adviser
and chair of the panel, George Ferguson, President of the RIBA, Geraldine Mostachfi,
International Specifications Manager for Somfy and Martin Pascoe, RIBA Head
of Special Projects.
Commenting on the winning design Simon Allford, RIBA said: "Each of the four
shortlisted schemes had a spirit which made it very difficult to choose. I liked
the simplicity and clarity of Azman’s design proposal."
George Ferguson, RIBA President added: "It was a tough decision but I particularly
enjoyed Azman Architects thinking behind the project, the thoughtfulness behind
the transformation between day-time café and evening bar use, the transparency
and flexibility of the proposal. I have high hopes of Azman developing their
sketch proposal into a scheme of real quality that is thoroughly contemporary
but respects our great building."
Geraldine Mostachfi from Somfy “admired the sleek and pure lines of the design.”
Martin Pascoe said: “I liked the examples of materials brought to the presentation
with their subtle palette of colours and the way in which the bar’s stock of
bottles would itself make a colourful backdrop".
Azman Architects will now work closely with the RIBA to work up their winning
concept to be completed for the opening in August.