The 2018 York Design Awards are now open for entries. The deadline is 21st March 2018.


Apply for the 2018 York Design Awards here

The awards are free to enter and there are eight categories to choose from. Apply today.


York Design Awards celebrate and encourage good design in the city. Good architecture and sensitive building restoration play an important part in what makes York such a special place, routinely topping UK cities’ quality of life surveys.

York Design Awards’ mission is to support that for the future and to encourage designers of new developments in the city to maintain the very highest standards – to create buildings and spaces that ‘delight’.

Founded by former Lord Mayor of York, Janet Hopton, the awards scheme is funded entirely by independent sponsors and donors and is run entirely by unpaid volunteers.

Awards, judged by an independent panel including eminent national and international figures in architecture and design, are presented annually in a range of categories with the scope for more than one award in each category (with the exception of the Lord Mayor’s Award).

Homeowners, building owners, architects, developers, restoration and construction companies are all encouraged to submit schemes for consideration. The judges have praised the inclusiveness of the awards scheme which recognises the role of good design not just in major developments but also in smaller schemes, restorations and extensions and in the public realm.

Alongside the judges’ choices, The Press (York) sponsors “The Press People’s Choice Award” where local residents vote for the scheme which most ‘delights’ them.

Our aim

The York Design Awards aims to recognise the importance of new construction and landscape projects in the city, celebrating ‘the spaces in between’, the setting of buildings plus open space and public realm.

The principal aim of the York Design Awards is to encourage architects, developers, owners, planners, conservationists, to aspire to, achieve, and ensure excellence in new build and in conservation schemes within the City of York Council local authority boundary (completed within the previous three years).   York has a wonderful legacy of architecture from the past but much of what was being built in recent years running up to 2006, as elsewhere, was bland and unremarkable, not a fitting legacy for the 21st Century.

There are excellent architects and craftsmen, with a variety of high quality conservation and other skills, available in the city and, by highlighting their work, the Awards hope to raise aspirations generally.   With several major developments in the pipe line, there is a great opportunity for developers to contribute to York`s future heritage and it is crucial that the city continues to attract the best developers from outside the city – those aspiring to the highest quality of design, bringing design talent and construction expertise with them.

How we judge entries

An essential aspect of the York Design Awards is having a panel of four independent judges from outside the city. Most of our judges serve for three or four years. They have expertise in architecture and conservation and are known and respected for their work regionally, nationally and internationally.

Each year the panel site visits over two days every scheme entered. Reflecting the great wealth of creative development taking place in and around York, this involves assessing more than thirty entries every year. Each is assessed on five criteria:

  • quality of design and build
  • context
  • materials and workmanship
  • sustainability
  • ability to delight

Awards are given to schemes which the judges consider attain an extremely high standard, so there can be more than one Award in a category. This means judges are not restricted to selecting the best scheme in each category – nor indeed any scheme in a category. The exception is with the York Press People’s Award. Here it is the city’s residents who solely get to decide and our judges have no involvement in making the decision.



Andy Davey


Andy Davey is the senior partner at Simpson & Brown Architects, based in Edinburgh, which specialises in the scholarly conservation of historic buildings, the adaptive re-use and remodelling of existing buildings, and the contextual design of new buildings in sensitive historic or landscape settings. The firm aspires to be one of the leading ‘creative conservation’ practices in the UK and works on a wide range of projects at home and abroad.  Andy trained at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London and has been responsible for many of Simpson & Brown’s more prestigious commissions, including the recent multi-RIBA Award winning projects for the Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery and the acclaimed new Visitor Centre at Rievaulx Abbey. He also has a decidedly odd and inexplicable interest in heritage potato varieties.


David Heath


David is chair of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and until 2007 was chief conservation architect at English Heritage. He has wide-ranging experience of building repairs and maintenance and of the adaptive reuse of historic buildings. A registered architect since 1975, David trained at Cambridge University School of Architecture and has taught, lectured and written on conservation topics. He has had a long involvement with the Architectural Association (AA) Post-Graduate Course in The Conservation of Historic Buildings, where since 2007 he has been the thesis tutor.


Nicky Rutt


Nicky Rutt, who was a finalist in the prestigious AJ Woman Architect of the Year Awards two years ago, is an architect in one of the country’s leading practices, Hawkins\Brown. She is currently working on a £100m project called Here East which is transforming the former London 2012 Olympics’ media centre into a 1.2 million square foot ‘digital campus’ for start-ups, students and leading tech businesses. Nicky is also a Trustee of the Twentieth Century Society, which helps to safeguard the heritage of architecture and design in Britain from 1914 onwards.


Geoff Rich

BA(Hons) BArch(Hons) AABC RIBA

Geoff is a managing partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and takes a leading role in creative re-use and regeneration projects. He has a keen interest in design and conservation issues, and is an AABC-accredited conservation architect. He was team leader on his firm’s award-winning Clore Learning Centre at Hampton Court Palace, and is currently working on the oldest surviving iron-framed buildings in the world at Ditherington Flax Mill near Shrewsbury. Other major schemes include Bath Abbey and Windsor Castle. Geoff is a long-standing member of CABE's South West Design Review Panel and lectures at several universities.


The first York Design Awards evening was held in 2007 at the Mansion House, moving to the Merchant Adventurers Hall in 2008. Subsequently the venue for the annual Awards Evening has been an award winning building from the previous year – York College, University of York`s Berrick Saul Building, York St. John`s De Grey Building, Yorkshire Museum, University of York`s Film, Theatre & Television Building, and for 2014, Nestle Product Technology Centre.

This has been an attractive and fascinating aspect of the awards and the generosity of the various organisations involved in allowing us to use these special buildings as venues for the Awards Evenings has always been greatly appreciated.

From the start, the organising committee has included both representatives from relevant organisations across the city and interested individuals. Representation on the committee currently includes City of York Council, York Guild of Building, York Civic Trust, York Professionals, York Archaeological Trust, York Architectural Association and York Consortium of Craftsmen & Conservationists.

Educational outreach

A display of entries has been a feature of the Awards Evening reception and, in 2008, we worked with four students and their tutor from York St. John University who created the display as part of their design coursework, a rewarding experience on both sides.

Another educational opportunity arose in 2013, this time with York College, and has continued. A class of Building Construction students assessed the entries as a paper exercise, using the same criteria as our judges, to decide which they thought was best in each category.

Mindful of its core purpose, the York Design Awards also engages in the city with other relevant activities and initiatives: the University of York Festival of Ideas, and the RIBA ‘Love Architecture’ Festival in York 2012.


Sponsorship has been crucial to the continuation of the awards. Our intention has always been to keep the awards accessible to everyone – this means:

  • no entry fee
  • a free launch event in early February with a renowned architect as speaker
  • no-charge for the Awards Evening in the summer, with invitations to all the architects and developers/owners who entered, planning officers and Council Members, sponsors, special guests

Grateful acknowledgement is, therefore, due to all our sponsors without which we simply could not make the York Design Awards the success they are today.

Read more about our current sponsors

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