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The winners of the 2015 FAB awards have been announced by RIDBA.


A new fire station, laboratory and office building, and converted 17th Century barn are among the winners in the 2015 FAB (Farm and Agricultural Buildings) awards run by RIDBA (the Rural and Industrial Design and Building Association).

They were revealed at a gala dinner attended by Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive of the NSCC (National Specialist Contractors Council), on Friday (April 24th) at the Royal York Hotel in York where the winners were each presented with a very unusual trophy – a mounted podger (spanner) – by TV presenter Tom Heap.

First launched in 2013 (RIDBA’s 56th anniversary year) the award scheme proved incredibly popular, with contractors and designers vying to win one of the seven awards on offer.

This year the scheme was extended to 13 awards, with extra opportunities for diversification, industrial buildings, working farm buildings over and under 250m2, equestrian and unusual buildings.

The existing awards were for most aesthetic, functional and sustainable buildings; first, second and third overall, and best non-member building.

They were launched to recognise and reward contractors (rural building manufacturers and fabricators) and clients (primarily farmers) who had taken the time and effort to ensure their new farm building was sympathetic to and even complemented the local landscape, while ensuring it was fit for purpose and had been designed with sustainability in mind.

RIDBA national secretary Tony Hutchinson said: “Our awards scheme was particularly diverse this year which reflects the way the industry is going and its on-going reliance on buildings that are not only functional but also attractive, and increasingly now, sustainable.”


Countryfile presenter Tom Heap told the audience he was delighted there were creative people trying to raise the appeal of agricultural buildings by producing something people would enjoy looking at into the future.


Suzannah Nichol said the industry was now making its way out of a few hard years and there was (with the expected merger of the NSCC and UK Contractors Group) an opportunity for contractors and the supply chain to work together to promote best practice.


RIDBA chairman James Anthony agreed it was a “wonderful opportunity”.


RIDBA’s 200+ members comprise contractors, designers, colleges, surveyors, land agents, planners, manufacturers and clients. The organisation campaigns on their behalf in the fields of good practice, health and safety and new legislation.


The awards were sponsored this year by Marley Eternit, Wedge Galvanising, Kingspan Insulated Panels, Brett Martin Daylight Systems, A Steadman & Sons, United Roofing Products and Joseph Ash Galvanizing.


And the winners are:


1st overall

Most functional building – Winner

Best light industrial building – Winner


Shufflebottom Ltd for Andrew Scott Ltd


Hirwaun Fire Station

Swansea Road



Rhondda Cynon Taff


Hirwaun Fire Station was designed to blend in with its diverse surroundings – light and heavy industrial units, housing and mountains – and to handle its use not only by the local fire brigade but also by the community as a whole.


This was achieved through the use of salvaged Welsh slate rimming the bottom of the 18m x 22m building, a cream finish to the walls, timber cladding and a green roof, all of which have been incorporated into a structure of unusual design.


The judges said: “Sympathetic design to ensure it blends with the surrounding area. Use of green roof technology in a building of this type is to be admired.” “Excellent project with added thought for wildlife, with bat boxes and a sparrow terrace, along with a grass roof. Makes this a nice all-round project.”


2nd overall

Most aesthetic building – Winner


Yorkshire Steel Buildings for Labman Automation


Seamer Hill



North Yorkshire


Labman Automation, who supply bespoke robotic solutions, wanted to present a totally different aspect to a standard portal-framed industrial building, both in shape and finish.


The existing portal building housing laboratories and offices had no customer-facing wow factor, and besides, more office space and meeting rooms were required. The 211m2 “lean-to” extension with curved entrance clad in FSC-sourced cedar wood and locally-sourced tree trunks distracts the viewer from the plain black gable end of the original building, linking office and laboratories to encourage staff interaction.


The judges said: “Striking building with a unique design and flow. Use of ground source heating and technology and efficient low-carbon elements are very impressive.”


3rd overall

Diversification - Winner


A.C. Bacon Engineering Ltd for CJH Farming Ltd


Boyton Hall

Boyton Cross




Converting the oldest building on this farm – a non-listed 17th Century barn in danger of demolition – into offices proved a labour of love for A. C. Bacon.


The extensive renovation project included a full internal scaffold, the floor level reduced by 700mm, re-roof and installation of a traditional built-up side cladding system to replace the block-concrete render between the structural timbers which had been preventing the structure from collapsing.


The first floor now exposes the original roof trusses and timbers while contemporary energy-saving features include high-speed broadband, under-floor heating and large double-glazed windows to maximise natural light.


The judges said: “Excellent job at saving a building that could have easily been pulled down. Using original trusses, local labour and companies adds to this really nice project.” “Sympathetic renovation which is largely in keeping with the original style of the building.”


Most sustainable building – Winner

A.C. Bacon Engineering Ltd for The Doubleday Group


Station Road





The Doubleday Group, a third-generation agricultural sales and servicing operation, wanted a state-of-the-art premises as a base for its north Lincolnshire operation and chose a prominent position on the A17 at the heart of the county’s farming community.


As well as being the new HQ, the 1,765m2 building was designed to allow for diverse future uses as well as being as sustainable as possible for a business dependant on high usage of electricity and water for washing down machinery. This is handled by the maximum number of photovoltaic panels on the roof and a 10,000 litre water tank with a recycling system which enables 90 to 95% of the water to be used again.


The judges said: “Great use of green technology – photovoltaic panels and water processing excellent.” “Great use of building with sustainability in mind, with solar panels and re-use of water.”


Farm building over 250m2 – Winner

Roger Stewart Associates for Bristol University’s School of Clinical Veterinary Science


Wyndhurst Farm




Replacing a 45-year-old dairy with a state-of-the-art commercial unit for 200 cows plus teaching facilities was highly dependent on design as the farm is bounded by housing and a bypass.


Initial plans for a wide-span single-apex structure with a ridge height of almost 10m were adapted to a lower ridge height and several spans to create a more irregular roof profile that would reduce the building’s impact when viewed from afar.


Other features in the 4,063m2 complex include sensored artificial lighting, extensive use of rubber matting for cow comfort, wider passages, changing rooms, vet store, farm office and large viewing/lecture gallery.


Sustainable features included a dedicated new bore hole,  recycling water from the milk plate coolers for cows’ drinking and washing down and discharging contaminated surface water from the whole complex into an extensive wetland treatment system with gravel beds and planted swales before it entered the watercourse unpolluted.


The judges said: “Carefully designed, with full consideration given to animal welfare and end use of building.” “This project went to a lot of trouble to ensure the building was in keeping with local requirements and considerations.”


Non-agricultural farm building - Winner

A.C. Bacon Engineering Ltd for Agrii


Throws Farm Technology Centre





Designed to reflect the appearance of a traditional Essex barn, this new training and office building for a leading provider of agronomy services, technology and strategic advice was the focal point for visitors to the research centre and working farm.


The 1,087m2 building incorporates a complex structural frame to achieve the large internal clear-span rooms, with a subservient link to the adjoining farmhouse which helps identify it as unmistakably part of an agricultural building complex.


It comprises offices for up to 30 trials personnel, along with a substantial reception area, kitchen and toilets, meeting rooms and a large training/conference room complemented by covered external space for display, demonstrations and social functions.


The judges said: “Excellent re-purposing and redevelopment, with cutting-edge environmental credentials.” “Nice all-round project.”


Unusual building – Winner

Shufflebottom Ltd for Sally Jackson - The Pink Pig


Pink Pig Farm

Holme Hall




A play barn that reflected the design of a real working farm but with a funky twist was Shufflebottom’s brief from Sally Jackson for the latest element of her farm’s diversification which already features a farm shop and park and restaurant.


Unusually, she also wanted the play barn to appeal as much to parents and grandparents and to bring the farm feel indoors. This has been achieved with elements such as contemporary steel counters, wash hand basins and buckets as down lighters, vine-laden exposed steel beams and large bifold doors.


Sustainable features include rooflights to maximise natural light, low-energy lighting, ground source heat pump for the under-floor heating, and below-ground storage tanks for rainwater collection to run the toilets which have not required mains water since it opened in February 2014.


The judges said: “Nicely designed for educational use. Excellent re-use of water.” “Green technology heat source pumps and rainwater harvesting utilised effectively. Blends in with surrounding buildings.”


Equestrian building – Commended

A.C. Bacon Engineering Ltd for Suffolk Hay Company


Manor Farm

Monks Eleigh




The Suffolk Hay Company needed a multi-functional building to suit the three main areas of the business – hay storage, stabling and livestock (for its small beef enterprise) – to replace the smaller traditional buildings it had been using.


Farmer Adrian Keitley-Webb was keen to maintain a traditional look so a steep-pitched hipped entrance was incorporated into the centre of the west elevation facing the farmyard. The front low-level section of the 655m2 building is designed for stabling and also for livestock while the main span is used for hay storage.


The judges said: “Well designed and executed building using sustainable materials where possible.”


Light industrial building – Commended

Shufflebottom Ltd for Lampeter RFC


North Road




A founder member of the Welsh Rugby Union, Lampeter RFC felt it was time to invest in the future and replace its 40-year-old clubhouse with one that not only served the club but also the local community.


The striking, cedar-clad two-storey building comprises the usual lounge, bar and changing facilities plus a kitchen and executive area upstairs with viewing balcony and seating area. This serves for Sunday lunches for the whole community outside game times while the lounge is used for meetings, parties and fund-raising events.


The judges said: “Considered use of timber cladding ensures the clubhouse blends into the surroundings. Consideration has been given not only to current requirements but also to future expansion.” “Ticks all the boxes – a well thought out design that enriches the whole community.”


Non-member – Commended

Lappin Engineering for Hampton Hewitt, Markethill Livestock & Sales


Mowhan Road


Co Armagh

Northern Ireland


Combining the diverse requirements of a traditional market place for livestock with modern offices proved a challenge for Lappin Engineering.


Cladding the office block, which had to perform to Part L of the Building Regulations in terms of airtightness and insulation, with brick contrasted with steel cladding and fibre cement for the livestock area where there is easy access into the pens. Structural and secondary steelwork included a non-slip walkway on the first floor which provides a platform to view the livestock below.


The judges said: “Purposeful building, carefully designed, delivering great functionality and good use of materials to meet requirements.”


Unusual building – Commended

Robinson Structures Ltd for Marlbrook Farm


Newnham Bridge

Tenbury Wells



Much homage was paid to the original dilapidated building when Robinson Structures built a new curved roof barn at Marlbrook Farm where even two feature roof ventilators typical of local barn architecture were included.


The 270m2 building is roofed in black fibre cement, with the galvanised steel work also painted black, as the client did not want a “shiny silver galvanised finish” that would detract from the original, and is clad in timber boarding above concrete panels.


The judges said: “Lovely looking.”






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