In 2022, RIBA collaborated with the British Council to deliver the Open Door project, a programme promoting and celebrating outstanding conservation work by emerging architects in Mainland of China and the UK.
Open Door celebrates the best of recent architectural heritage projects, champions the environmental and cultural benefits of building conservation, and promotes knowledge exchange between experts in both countries.
The call for proposals, launched in April 2022, was aimed at architects who have been qualified for ten years or less, encouraging more young professionals to become involved in the sector and build relationships with experienced practitioners.
The Open Door project is split into two categories:
1. Renovation and repurpose of twentieth-century (c. 20th) heritage buildings
2. Historic buildings built before 1901
14 outstanding heritage projects from the UK and Mainland of China were selected by an Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Ben Derbyshire, Past President of RIBA and Commissioner for Historic England. The Expert Advisory Group consisted of:
Lu Wenyu, RIBA International Fellow and co-founder of Amateur Architecture Studio, Hangzhou
Chen Xiong, Director, Deputy General Manager and Chief Architect of Guangdong Architectural Design & Research Institute
Geoff Rich, Architect and Managing Partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Bath, London and Manchester
Dr Wei Yang, Chair of Wei Yang & Partners, Immediate Past President of the Royal Town Planning Institute
In autumn 2022, we announced the 14 finalists and launched the exhibition online.
RIBA and the British Council also hosted two online masterclasses, featuring the winning projects and on the themes of the technical challenges in adaptation to contemporary regulations and the role of heritage in building community cohesion.
The masterclasses provided a forum for discussions around contemporary architectural conservation.
The exhibition that you are now seeing, showcases all the 14 Open Door finalist projects.
These 14 projects reveal a diverse range of approaches to adaptive reuse and exemplify how architects can address sensitive cultural heritage and sustainability issues by preserving our existing environment. The types of work also cover a wide range, from cultural buildings, commercial constructions, and educational buildings to private homes.
Through this exhibition, we hope to demonstrate the outstanding conservation projects from both countries, start ongoing exchanges on how we build and live together, and engage with the wider community to raise awareness of the role of heritage-led regeneration in creating social cohesion and biophilic well-being.