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Craftmanship awards

RIBA Suffolk annual Craftsmanship Awards


This annual competition is a celebration of the quality and expertise of Suffolk craftsmen and women who demonstrate their skills on construction projects across the county.  Results confirm that the traditional skills of bricklaying, carpentry, joinery, plastering, roof tiling, and internal finishing are very much alive and well throughout the Suffolk construction industry. 


Nominations are received from Architects, Contractors and Clients, all of whom are proud to show off their completed projects to the adjudication team, to allow the details to be inspected and for comparisons to be made. 


Projects are divided into four categories: 

  • New Buildings

  • Alterations & Extensions

  • Restorations 

  • Individual Craftsmanship 


Typically between 40 and 50 nominations are received each year. 


Judging takes place in March and the Awards are presented at the Suffolk Joint Council for Construction (SJCC) Annual Dinner at Trinity Park in early May.  This prestigious event attracts some 400 building professionals

RIBA Suffolk Craftsmanship Awards 2023 

RIBA Suffolk Craftsmanship Awards 2022

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Mirage, Constitution Hill.jpg

Category A – Residential
Award of Distinction: Mirage, Constitution Hill, Ipswich

Architect:  Martyn Goodwin of KLH Architects

Contractor:  Ben Allen of Birch Homes

Client:  Mr & Mrs Jeremy Goddard

Special Mention to: Windows Etc.  Colchester

Judge’s comment: 

This wasn’t the first design for a new house on this important, perhaps unique site.  It wasn’t the first application to appear in the Local Authority Planning Office.  The demands of the client who effectively wanted an art gallery as well as a new home.  Early layouts were, perhaps, a little too ostentatious.

I refer to the site at the top of the sheep meadow off Valley Road, a site with an open vista beyond the bypass to open countryside.  Having rejected the first couple of proposals the client appointed KLH to design a townhouse worthy of its prime position whilst at the same time having the right internal spaces for their requirements.

The composition responds to the established genteel Edwardian character of Constitution Hill with a quiet contemporary order. It does however display a quality that wasn’t easily achieved - with various trades having to return to site to ‘improve’ their finished product.

Ben Allen and his team have achieved a very high standard, not least because of the difficulties of working through the pandemic.  My congratulations to Birch Homes for this project, they deserve the accolade."

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Abbottswood, Aldeburgh.jpg

Category A – Residential
Award: Abbottswood, Aldeburgh

Architect:  Tim Hannon, Brooks Architects

Contractor:  Stowe Building Contractors

   Jamie Cotterell – Contracts Manager

   Tom Thurston – Working Site Foreman

Client:  Rory and Aisling Bowman

Judge’s comment: The houses on the right as you drive down into Aldeburgh have the potential of a view across the marshes to the river, and to Orford Ness beyond. But not, unfortunately if your property is a bungalow.

It takes a brave property owner to knock down the family home, a bungalow and rebuild a two storey conventional house with a cosy snug on the first floor.

The couple that took the decision were Alison and Rory Bowman, flour millers of Hertfordshire.

The new property was expertly executed by Andrew Stowe of Marlesford and his team to a design by Tim Hannon of Brook’s Architects of Leiston

There are a couple of excellent examples of craftsmanship in the project, notably in the external fabric. Of particular note is the new building housing the swimming pool, utilising the existing shell, a situation where is isn’t easy to intergrate old and new.  The Stowe team have successfully achieved, not only in this leisure facility but throughout the whole house. I congratulate them.

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Little Grange, Higham.jpg

Category A – Residential
Award: Little Grange, Higham

Architect:  James Rush of Wincer Kievenaar ably assisted by Staszek Stuart Thompson 

Contractor:  Rose Builders,  Alan Burdon was Contracts Manager and Kinsey Mann, the site foreman.

Client: Mr & Mrs David Alston.

Judge’s comment: An insignificant gate off a dark quiet lane just off the A12 and the Essex border leads to a sizeable plot overlooking the Stour Valley. An ideal spot for a modern Country House, a property that is both traditional and modern.

The entrance is central to what appears, at first glance to be a 17th century five bay mansion, but wait, away to the right a new extension, except it isn’t an extension but simply a modern addition to the traditional, built at the same time to contrast and enhance.

The whole is a magnificent and very picturesque contribution to Constable Country.  And as we’ve seen frequently in this competition, the quality delivered by Stephen Rose and his team is second to none.

I was particularly taken by the plasterwork in the entrance hall, particularly by the curved work on the soffit of the elliptical stairs.

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Mildenhall Hub.jpg

Category A – Commercial
Award: Mildenhall Hub
A new multi discipline service centre for West Suffolk

Architect:  Concertus, Charles Coulson, Project Architect assisted by Laura Morris De’ath and Matt Smith


R G Carter

Ian Powell (Contracts Manager), 

John Irons (Construction Director), 

Richard Groom (Project Manager

Client: Suffolk County Council

Judge’s comment: Collaboration!  The new Council Offices in Mildenhall are different, different in that the building is multi-purpose.  Not only is the building offices for the local authority but included within the walls, Mildenhall Academy, a secondary school, Mildenhall’s Leisure Centre, Library and Police Station (amongst others).

Therein lies the challenge, shoe horning these multi-functions into a single building was a challenge for the architect but Concertus have the experience of creating functional spaces within limited budgets.

What impressed me about the building was how RG Carter had maintained the quality of finish across each of the varied functions, not least in the very public central core with reception, library and café.  My congratulations to the extensive site team for their comprehensive achievements."

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Basetek Ipswich.jpg

Category A – Commercial
Award of distinction: Basetek
An industrial unit on Ransomes EuroPark.

Architect:  Concertus, noteably Stephen Ryles together with Bryony Briggs as interior designer.

Contractor:  SHE French, Simon Hubert was Contracts Manager and Shane Davis as Site Manager.

Client: Jamie Ashfield of Basetek

Judge’s comment: To describe this building as an industrial unit is pushing the boundaries of that description.  One third of the building is a very efficient hi-tec office with a young workforce selling and distributing spare parts for oil rigs around the world.

The remaining two thirds is a warehouse for the above mentioned parts, parts that are usually delivered and dispatched on the same day.

Additionally this was a fresh step into the commercial world for design team at Concertus.  A demanding client ensured the finished product met his requirements.

Concertus incorporated most of the clients’ foibles into the finished offices, what appears to be a container on the mezzanine, exposed timbers in the boardroom and, as you would expect, the very latest in high Tech’ communications."

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Cross Maltings Folly.jpg

Category B – Alterations and Extensions
Award: Cross Maltings Folly, Hadleigh

Architect: Matthew Bell, Modece


M Chisnall & Sons Ltd

Paul Dodsworth, Contracts Manager

Client: Graham & Lindsay Panton

Judge’s comment: I first visited this project in 2019 on what then was the completion of the restoration of the folly.  I elected not to include the project in that year’s awards to allow completion of the linked new property. 

This complex of buildings is ideally located alongside the River Brett within yards of the shops in Hadleigh High Street.  The new home is unusual being trapezoidal in plan, with storey high pocket windows on the river elevation.

What impressed me about this project was not only the architectural innovation but the quality of the workmanship, both internally and externally.  I was particularly impressed with the integration of insulation into the fabric going a substantial way towards achieving Passive Haus status.

The architect has carefully located the windows, particularly those on the first floor such that the owners catch glimpses of the garden, the river the abundant wildlife.  What has been created is a very pleasant place to live.  In 2019 I saw the potential; it was the right decision to allow full completion."

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Otley House.jpg

Category B – Alterations and Extensions
Award of distinction: Otley House

Architect: Claire Gasson

Contractor:  Seamans Building under the watchful eye of Mark Theobald, Site Agent.

Client: Claire and Tom Gasson

Judge’s comment: London architect Claire Gasson has lived at Otley House for some twenty years and throughout this time has been pondering the best way to enjoy an indoor – outdoor experience adjacent to the back door.  It is not a surprise then that the result is an extremely well executed extension with a loggia patio.

What Claire has created is the perfect balance between enclosed, and open to the sky spaces, with warmth, depth and quality.  But there is more to it than that, Claire has created a very usable space, a space to entertain, to enjoy and to relish.  The quality is outstanding, the finishes superb, and the materials well chosen."

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Unitarian Meeting House.jpg

Category C – Restoration
Award: Unitarian Meeting House

Architect: Stuart Edgar of KLH

Contractor:  F A Valiant & Sons, with a particular special mention to the site foreman Mark Francis who worked on, usually alone during the Covid crisis.

Plasterwork and Rendering:  G Cook & Sons Ltd,

Master Plasterer: Nigel Davies

Judge’s comment: This was an interesting project on an important historical building in the centre of Ipswich.  Built 320 years ago for the princely sum of £350 (on land costing an additional £150). 

Last years repairs were in excess of three-quarters of a million pounds, but don’t go looking for changes, the work has been successfully incorporated into the existing fabric such that, not only does it not show externally or internally, it shouldn’t deteriorate for another century.

Actually a close inspection of the building will reveal a new roof covering, repairs to the original leaded glass windows and the convenience of a new toilet.

Most important was the removal of the external cement render, replaced with historically accurate lime render.  Ground levels were changed such that the paving at the front of the building is now lower than the internal floor (with a level threshold to meet access requirements).  I commend Stuart Edgar and the team at KLH for a superb, but very subtle project."

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Grove Park, Yoxford.jpg

Category C – Restoration
Award: Grove Park, Yoxford Suffolk

Architect:  Initial ideas and Regs’ Approval – Peter Wells

Detailing – Matthew Payne of Hollins Architects, Framlingham.

Contractor: Seaman’s Building – Site Agents: Colin Lockwood and Philip Page

Client: Sir Guy and Lady Jenny Quilter

Judge’s comment: Very occasionally we come across a project where superlatives simply don’t do it justice.  With 48 rooms spread over 14,000 sq ft this £3.5 million Georgian Mansion stands in 35 acres of parkland close to the centre of the village.

Architect Peter Wells did some initial work but then handed the project over to Matthew Payne of Hollins.

Working with property owner Jenny Quilter, Matthew detailed the restoration and building work required to bring the accommodation up to 21st Century requirements, exquisitely decorated with some exclusive wallpapers, carefully balanced paint colours and just the right soft furnishing the outcome is outstanding.

Work included some new build, the former swimming pool was moved, a new orangery constructed in ashlar stone.  As you can imagine for a property worthy of its history, its setting and its ambience both the new extension and the restoration work is quality personified."

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Top Sow Yard.jpg

Category D - Excellence in Craftsmanship
Award: Top Sow Yard, Sutton

Architect:  Modece - Matthew Bell and Andrew Elliot

Contractor: WillBuild Developments - William Bell and Ricky Byam

Client: Juliet Fraser

Judge’s comment:  "If I refer to this project as a former pig sty I’m really telling a half truth. / It was a typical small Suffolk multi-purpose loose box with small yard,  used variously as milking parlour, a weaning shed and a pig sty.

Across Suffolk animal husbandry has given way to arable crops and these little barns have become redundant, allowed to fall into disrepair and, as in this case partially collapse.  Until that is the daughter of the family decided that it would make a super one bedroom retreat, what is virtually a studio flat where the main space is dedicated to music, and where the occupier can make as much noise as she likes.

Juliet is a classical singer, and finds it necessary to practice late into the evening in the days before a concert, but what an inspiration, an audience of rolling fields, trees and birdsong.  Juliet was also the inspiration behind some of the design features, the incorporated art work, not hanging on the wall but built into it, the shingles as external cladding rather than the traditional black weatherboarding and the standing seam roof covering on the low pitched slope. 

All expertly put together by the very small team at WillBuild."

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Crown Bridge House.jpg

Category D - Excellence in Craftsmanship
Award: Crown Bridge House, Westhorpe

Architect:  Paul Weston

Contractor:  Mixbrow - Mike Cates (Site Man’),

Nick Page (Construction Man’)

Client: Paul and Alison Weston

Judge’s comment:  "When Paul Weston and his wife Alison decided to build a new house in the back garden of the former ‘Crown’ public house in Westhorpe they imagined all would be straightforward.  In true Grand Design drama no sooner had the first sod been turned that the water appeared.  Clearly traditional foundations weren’t possible, replaced at no inconsiderable expense by 14 m deep piles.

Manoeuvring the piling rig close to the Grade II listed former pub wasn’t easy but they were soon out of the ground and on their way to completion.

What they, and Mixbrow have created, and I should also credit Forefront for their contribution to the joinery is a residential property with architects office (for Paul) and artist studio (for Alison). 

As could be expected with this client perfection was required, and was delivered."

RIBA Suffolk Craftsmanship Awards 2019


10 Marton House, Woodbridge Credit John

New Build - small scheme

WINNER: Marton House, Woodbridge

Architect: James Rush and Craig Western, Wincer Kievenaar

Contractor: Robert Norman Construction 

Judge’s comment: “Marton House sits on a sizeable plot. A 1930’s detached house was demolished to be replaced by an outstanding home designed to meet the needs of the family. The courtyard garden is surrounded on three sides by the new building and provides a very private and quiet space.  The new house sits under a double pitch slate roof, the link corridor under sedum and the office and hydrotherapy room combine to provide that privacy. 

The ground floor layout is an open plan flexible space with playrooms that can become bedrooms, an outstanding kitchen and a quiet snug. The first-floor circulation space is top lit with galleried landing allowing the light to flow down the timber and glass stairs to the hall below. The quality of workmanship is excellent throughout, and of particular note is the brickwork, the cedar cladding and the kitchen.  

This is a big house that makes the most of its central plot and is designed for ease of access. It is a true home for life.”

11 Alms Houses, Framlingham Credit John

New Build - large scheme

WINNER: Alms Houses, Framlingham

Architect: Rob Marsh-Feiley, Hollins Architects  

Contractor: O. Seaman & Son 

Owner: The Mills Charity

Judge’s comment: “What is outstanding with this project is how the quality prevails throughout the entire terrace, built on a rising curve to take advantage of the open space immediately south.  The works comprise of four one-bedroom flats and 10 three-bedroom town houses; five of which are ‘accessible’ and include a bedroom and a wet room on the ground floor. 

The deliberately small back gardens include the basic necessities of bicycle shed and space to dry the washing. The narrow front gardens simply separate the front windows from passing pedestrians.

The well-chosen light buff bricks are an ideal choice for reducing the bulk of the extensive terrace, as are the ‘end stops’ created by turning the roof of each terminal property through 90 degrees.  

One would expect tenants, recently moved into a new property to be pleased with the building, but those we spoke to were unreservedly complementary, not least for the sense of community that had developed between neighbours. They were, without exception, delighted with their new homes.”

12 10 Quay Street, Wood Credit Plaice Ar

Major Alteration & Extension

WINNER: 10 Quay Street, Woodbridge

Architect:  Chris Game, Plaice Design Company 

Contractor:  John W O’Dowd

Owner: Mr O Cottam & Ms S Mogaghan

Judge’s comment: “A small semi-detached property with a miniscule back yard, the architects were challenged to remodel the property maximising both the internal and external spaces. Collectively the quality of workmanship throughout is excellent; the installation of the steelwork was obviously challenging and the structural glass roof to the kitchen extension innovative.  A warm welcoming home has been created out of an otherwise ordinary Victorian property.”

13 Red House Sax Internal Credit Nick En

Major Alteration & Extension

COMMENDATION: Red House, Saxmundham

Architect: James Bailey, Matheson Whiteley Architects

Contractor: Birch Homes

Structural Engineer: Superstructures

Owner: Mr R Gander

Judge’s comment: “The project was to extend and refurbish a pair of Victorian houses in Saxmundham making it suitable for use as a wheelchair-friendly home and artist studio. The artist owner envisaged some unique features including the brick surround to the living room fireplace and the steel staircase.  We particularly admired the perfection achieved in the shadow gaps, notably between steel joist and ceiling.” 

14 Peatings, BSE Credit John Norman.jpg

Restoration and Refurbishments

WINNER: Peatlings, Bury St Edmunds

Architect: Aoife O'Gorman, BCR Infinity Architects,

Contractor: O. Seaman & Son 

Owner: Mr & Mrs Haydon

Judge’s comment: “The original building had a variety of uses over the past 200 years, latterly as a wine merchant.  For restoration into a home, it was re-roofed, the interior was completely gutted and refitted, and a single-storey extension was built. The quality of workmanship is outstanding, and credit should go to the architect who had the vision to create a warm comfortable home from a previous open plan retail unit.”

15 Wright House Credit Hoopers.jpg

Restoration and Refurbishments

COMMENDATION: Wright House, Ipswich

Architect: Ross Warren, Hoopers Architects

Contractor: A C Harding

Structural Engineer: JP Chick & Partners

Owner: Mr & Mrs Wright

Judge’s comment: “An insignificant bungalow tucked away amongst substantial property in north Ipswich until a chance meeting between client and architect.  The result is a former late-20th century non-entity opened up to let the light stream in, extended to grab a view across the Gipping valley and turned into a warm welcoming and comfortable home; almost all contained wholly within the existing shell.”

16 Barnfield, Bentley Credit John Norman

Individual Trades

WINNER: Multiple Trades, Branfield, Bentley

Architect: Jon Pattle, Poole & Pattle 

Contractor:  DC Construction Ltd

Owner: Mr & Mrs B. Feltwell

Judge’s comment: “What are the factors that make one new house so much better than another?  Why is it that some houses ‘work’ when others are just nice because they’re new? Is good design an influential factor that leads to good build and do the workmen take more pride in what they are doing when they sense they are building something worthwhile rather than just another box?

Barnfield is ‘back-garden’ development in Bentley. It received Planning Permission because it is the replacement for a barn that stood on the site (hence the name).

It is obvious that everybody took their time on this project, applied just that little extra effort and tried to get things right first time.  Everybody includes the client who had spent some time working on the brief and so knew reasonably well what they wanted. The architect who had some substantial ideas on which to base his design and led the main contractor who knew immediately that some quality tradesmen would be required.

Thus, by the time the lads were on site, laying bricks, cutting rafters or plastering curves, the quality requirements were to the fore. To cut corners would have been alien to common theme, against the grain of the daily routine.  The result is an outstanding example of what is achievable for a reasonable budget with just that little extra amount of effort.”

17 Goldsmiths Mansion Credit Wincer Kiev

Special Award

WINNER: Goldsmiths Mansion, Sudbury

Architect: Phil Branton, Chris Hyam and Megan Clark, Wincer Kievenaar Architects 

Contractor:  Rose Builders

Structural Engineer: Richard Jackson

Owner: Roger Mattingly and Christina Manning 

Judge’s comment: “Goldsmiths Mansion, or Mattingly’s as it is commonly known after the family which purchased the property in 1874 as a gentleman’s outfitter, is a long-established building in the centre of Sudbury. Originally one shop, more recently it was divided into three units with flats above.  The building suffered an unfortunate but devastating fire in 2015 and the damage was so extensive that there was little choice but to demolish the entire property and rebuild.  

However, this is easier said than done. Like most town centre sites, the footprint of the building occupied the full width and most of the depth of the plot. There was no space for site huts, materials or manoeuvrings, and the road outside was a key route through the town centre.

The building’s owners were keen to acknowledge the historic significance of the building and its place within the high street but understood that an exact replica was both impracticable and prohibitively expensive.  Thus, the new building displays many of the original features of the original including sash windows, decorative brickwork and an initialled and dated roundel.

Mention should be made of Peter Minter of Bulmer Bricks who searched amongst the rubble just hours after the fire to recover examples of the decorative bricks so that replicas could be recreated.  The result is an excellent example of the whole construction team working together to achieve a worthy replacement to a fine Sudbury building.

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