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 of interest.
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.