The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has named Acme Studios’ purpose-built artists studios in Purfleet, Essex as one of 10 winners of the RIBA East Regional Awards. HAT Projects, the architects behind the 43-studio, three-storey design also won Emerging Architect of Year, while High House Production Park – who alongside Arts Council England have funded the project – won Client of the Year.

Praised by the judges for its “elegantly rational composition” and for being an “extraordinarily economical scheme”, the £1.8m High House Artists’ Studios complex contains 43 affordable studios and work/live units. Based on extensive research into the needs of artists by Acme, HAT Projects’ design aimed to make the spaces as functional and flexible as possible, while referencing the aesthetics of the traditional industrial studio building.

The award follows Acme Studios’ founders Jonathan Harvey and David Panton receiving OBEs in the Queen’s honours list this January and showcases how Acme has grown from converting disused houses in the 1970s – when it was set up as a charitable housing association – to becoming a prominent self-sustaining organisation that can now provide affordable spaces for over 700 artists to work and live. 

High House Artists’ Studios, which opened in Purfleet, Essex in July 2013, is one of three new permanent buildings that Acme opened last year – the other two being in Stockwell and Stratford. The scheme will now be put forward as a contender for the RIBA National Awards in June.

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