Drake's Place Gardens and Reservoir

Two iconic projects which have transformed the eastern edge of Plymouth University’s city centre campus have each won two accolades at the 2014 Abercrombie Awards.

The House, the University’s new performing arts centre, won the Best New Building Category and the overall Abercrombie award for design excellence and innovation.

Meanwhile, the restoration of the Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir won the Best Public Space Award and the People of Plymouth Award, decided in a public poll with almost 1,000 votes being cast.

A celebration of planning and design excellence in Plymouth, and recognition of the effort that has gone into improving the city over recent years, the Abercrombie Awards were launched in 1992, and last held in 2011.

Professor David Coslett, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Interim Chief Executive of Plymouth University, said:

“The transformation of our campus over the past two decades has, I believe, had a genuine and lasting impact on the whole community. Our award-winning building projects have been designed to meet the needs of our staff and student population, but also to enhance our great city and enrich the experience of everyone who lives, works and studies here. These awards – for two very different projects – demonstrate our continued effort to provide first rate facilities which the whole community can appreciate and enjoy.”

The House formally opens later this month, and will provide a versatile and fully accessible teaching and learning environment with facilities to rival the best university theatre provision in the UK. Designed by Burwell Deakins Architects and built by Midas Construction, its 200-capacity, sprung-floor theatre, studio spaces and advanced technology will provide an exciting new performance platform, creating a first-class touring venue for Plymouth and attracting artists of national and international standing.

Drake’s Place Gardens and Reservoir reopened in June 2014, following a £1.4million restoration project completed with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund and the University. The work, led by Cornwall Environmental Consultants Ltd and principal contractor Ryearch, saw a new entrance and level access from North Hill created, and the fountains in the reservoir reinstated along with the cascade and stream which run through the gardens. Listed features, such as the watch house, were restored, and the gardens replanted according to the original 1910 design.

The University’s flagship Roland Levinsky Building was also shortlisted – alongside Royal William Yard and the Regeneration of Devonport – for a Judges Special Award, designed to celebrate a project, initiative or programme that has contributed most to the city in the past two decades. The building, home to the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Peninsula Arts, won the Best New Building and People of Plymouth Awards in 2007.