Sustainable restoration of Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings sweeps the Board at RIBA West Midlands Awards

10 May 2024

Copyright Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The renovation of Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, the first iron framed building, and forerunner of modern skyscrapers, has been awarded five awards at the RIBA West Midlands Awards.  In addition to the RIBA West Midlands Award, the project was also awarded Building of the Year, Client of the Year and the Conservation award. FCBStudios Senior Associate Tim Greensmith was awarded Project Architect of the Year.

The RIBA Judges citation said “The brief for this project called for an exemplar of sustainable refurbishment to support the next 100 years of use for a building with a particularly innovative design heritage.

Opened as a flaxmill in 1797, it was the world’s first iron-frame building and has been described as the ‘grandparent of skyscrapers’. Its combination of cast iron beams and columns, brick arches, and cast iron ties made its construction fireproof, while large windows admitted natural light for its numerous employees. A century later, it was converted into a maltings through a second state-of-the-art design, with windows either blocked up or made smaller, boiler houses demolished, a timber hoist and new tower added, and a large kiln built.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios have conserved the enduring elements of both uses to provide four floors of flexible working space, while cleverly weaving in a contemporary layer to accommodate a visitor centre and café.­­"

Ulster University Belfast Campus also collected Building of the Year at the RSUA Design Prize in Belfast last night.