Subtle and sensitive children’s home wins 2023 Stephen Lawrence Prize

Alongside its announcement of the 2023 Stirling Prize, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has also revealed the winner of this year’s Stephen Lawrence Prize. London’s Lighthouse Children’s Home, by Conrad Koslowsky Architects, has got the nod for its subtle and sensitive design of a children’s home.

Tucked away in a leafy London suburb, the Lighthouse Children’s Home transformed a derelict 1920s house into a care home run by the Lighthouse Pedagogy Trust charity. The project definitely doesn’t have the novelty of previous Stephen Lawrence Prize winners like the Water Tower House and the Cork House, but its unassuming appearance belies the effort that went into realizing it.

The building now contains three floors, with six bedrooms in total for children up to the age of 17, each with an en-suite bathroom, plus a dedicated room for overnight staff. Additionally, there are communal areas and a kitchen, as well as a flexible apartment for two care leavers over 16.

The interior features an Arts & Crafts-inspired decor that makes good use of exposed timber and brick, with calming neutral colors. Careful research was carried out to ensure the comfort and well-being of the occupants, including flexible furniture layouts and shared living spaces, while also ensuring there would be two exits at all times to avoid the children feeling trapped.

The Lighthouse Children's Home features a calming light-filled interior that is carefully design to ensure the children feel comfortable
The Lighthouse Children’s Home features a calming light-filled interior that is carefully design to ensure the children feel comfortable

Edmund Sumner

“Architectural resourcefulness and ingenuity has transformed the critical and overwhelming pressures faced by looked-after children into opportunities,” said Matthew Goldschmied, Jury Chair and Managing Trustee of the Marco Goldschmied Foundation. “Everything has been carefully designed to improve the welfare, safety, comfort, health, self-esteem, and growth of its occupants. Each intervention is exhaustively researched and rigorously detailed to create something truly beautiful and harmonious.

“The Lighthouse Children’s Home demonstrates the therapeutic potential of thoughtfully designed environments. Aesthetic coherence unites the spaces here, setting the scene for stories of hope to unfold. The young lives this building touches will undoubtedly be supported by its comfort and restorative power.”

The Stephen Lawrence Prize was established in 1998 to honor a black British teenager and aspiring architect who was murdered in a racist attack. It covers architecture projects built to a low budget – relatively speaking that is, for architecture awards – of under £1 million (roughly US$1.1 million), and generally skews toward interesting works by lesser-known firms.

Source: RIBA

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