Structural and civil engineers in Chipping Norton win seven awards in one year – and there may be more to come

They may be a relatively small practice, but a team of local structural and civil engineers in Chipping Norton are certainly holding their own when it comes to architectural awards.
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SOLID Structures & Infrastructure has scooped seven major awards since the beginning of the year including a Civic Trust Award, an Architect’s Journal Small Projects Award, RIBA National Award, two South RIBA Regional Awards, A RIBA South Building of the Year Award, and a RIBA South Regional Conservation Award. With further nominations for prizes yet to be awarded, the team are hopeful 2023 will prove to be their most successful year yet.

Director Mark Harris said:“We are immensely proud of our company and our fantastic team of engineers. A huge thank you to all those at SOLID for their hard work and congratulations to everyone involved in making each of these projects a resounding success.”

Oxford University based project, St Hilda’s College, certainly proved popular with the judges. The development, which marked the college’s 125th year anniversary, saw an innovation to create a public entrance sequence of spaces that embodied the college’s identity and values.

Award-winning project St Hilda's CollegeAward-winning project St Hilda's College
Award-winning project St Hilda's College

The design, by architects Gort Scott, responds to the exceptional riverside setting. Winner of the Civic Trust Award 2023 the judges said “the new anniversary building makes a big impression with its strong massing and external high-quality features and landscape integration."

St Hilda’s had previously won an Oxford Preservation Trust Award and had gained a ‘special commendation’ in the education category of the Brick Awards last year. However, this year, following the success of the Civic Trust Awards, the development also went on to win a South RIBA Regional Award.

Another SOLID project receiving a lot of attention is the prestigious Radley College Chapel extension, designed by architects Purcell, after winning a RIBA National Award and not one South RIBA Award, but three! Radley College won a South RIBA Regional Award, a South RIBA Conservation Award and RIBA South’s ‘Building of the Year.’

SOLID were appointed as specialist stone engineers on the project, working alongside OG Stonemasonry. The RIBA journal reports that it is “a masterful blend of traditional and contemporary design elements… The chapel extension is a testament to the power of good design and the role that architecture can play in creating inspiring and functional spaces.”

St Hilda's PavilionSt Hilda's Pavilion
St Hilda's Pavilion

Radley College Chapel also won the ‘Supreme Award’ in last year’s Brick Awards.

On a smaller, yet no less notable, scale, SOLID are extremely proud of eco-friendly project ‘Black Barn Studios’. Black Barn Studios, designed by and housing Oxfordshire architect Charlie Luxton Design’s offices, won the first ever Sustainability Award in the Architects Journal Small Project Awards.

The judges felt the project was a strong contender “for the lessons that can be learnt from environmentally sustainable design.” The development saw a steel-framed barn repurposed. The existing structural elements were reused including the concrete block walls, floor slab and frame.

SOLID were appointed to design the internal bespoke timber frame structure. The aim of the design was to create a structure that was energy efficient with Passivhaus levels of insulation, high-performance triple glazing, electric car chargers and MVHR. An integral part of the project was to re-wild the plot and create a bio-diverse environment with more than 700 native trees and shrubs and over 2000m2 of wildflower meadows.