Judging Criteria

The AJ Retrofit & Reuse Awards celebrate architectural expertise and ingenuity in the physical and environmental adaption and upgrade of buildings, and the reuse of building materials and structure in response to the climate emergency and changing requirements of use.

Judges will assess each entry on how the project has delivered a solution that has given the client a better alternative to demolition and new build, as well as the extent to which it provides a holistic model for environmental design and for future similar projects. Judges will also examine how the project’s design has contributed to lowering comparable whole-life carbon emissions (including that of the original or alternative demolition/new build scenario), using measured/and or predicted data to evidence this. For guidance, we recommend referring to LETI’s publications or using the RICS methodology. Judges will also assess other measures of environmental best practice such as how the project addresses biodiversity, climate adaptation and future resilience. Entries should of course also include other key architectural judging criteria such as beauty, innovation, delivering the scheme on time and to budget, collaborative working and evidence of client or user satisfaction.

Your entry should therefore address, where possible/applicable, the following eight points:

  1. Design. How has your project excelled in answering the brief to the client’s satisfaction in terms of outstanding design? To what extent has your design transformed the existing building?
  2. Demolition. Was full demolition and rebuild considered and, if so, why and how was an alternative approach taken? Within the wider retrofit project, were some elements of the existing building demolished and, if so, please detail these and the reasons for this along with justification for any new added fabric.
  3. Collaboration. To what extent have clients, project partners, stakeholders, and the wider community (as applicable) been involved in this project from the outset?
  4. Operational energy. Please provide all available data on the operational energy performance of the building, ideally covering three time periods – before the project, during the design stage, and after completion – in kWh/m2/yr. If possible, include energy use intensity, space heating and describe the strategies for services (heating, ventilation, renewables etc) and fabric (insulation, windows, airtightness, thermal bridges, moisture control).
  5. Embodied energy. How has the design addressed embodied energy? What are the project’s principal materials and how has it sought to reduce construction waste? Please provide all available embodied carbon performance data in kgCO2/m2 and, ideally, a whole life cycle assessment.
  6. Environmental performance. How does your project perform holistically considering factors such as biodiversity, transport, water use, air quality and resilience in terms of events such as flooding, storms and overheating? How is energy supplied to the project and what efforts have been made to reduce or end reliance on fossil fuels? i.e. what fuel type is used and why? Please describe any plans for or actual use of Soft Landings and/or post-occupancy evaluation.
  7. Retrofit innovation. Please detail any technical innovation which contributed towards the success of the retrofit. How does the building now address flexibility and adaptability for a long-life/loose-fit future?
  8. Outreach. What outreach activities if any were undertaken using this project to help inspire others?

New for 2024: Live judging at AJ Retrofit Live

As part of the evolution of this awards programme, we're delighted to be introducing a live judging element to the judging process for the below categories:

  • Climate resilience and adaption. Projects with a focus on adaptions/additions intended to deal with or mitigate environmental change and weather extremes including increased shading, incorporation of green roofs, landscaping SUDS strategies, etc.
  • Deconstruction and reuse. ‘New-build’ or retrofit projects demonstrating circularity and the reuse of building components, materials and structural elements from previous buildings.
  • Private/individual renovation. From domestic renovations and home extensions to other personal projects designed to improve private houses or properties.

All shortlisted practices of these three categories will be invited to present at AJ Retrofit Live to a panel of judges and a live audience, where a winner will be determined. Each category will have its own dedicated live judging room, featuring an AJ host, sponsor, the nominated presenter from each shortlisted practice, and up to 30 people from the AJ Retrofit Live audience.

At the end of the day, winners will be decided by the judging panel and announced just a few hours later at the AJ Retrofit & Reuse Awards.

How will it work?

  • The judging process for all categories will begin in mid-March, with the shortlisted entrants being notified in mid-May of their achievement. 
  • A 20-minute presentation slot will be assigned to shortlisted entries. This will involve a 10-minute presentation to judges, and a 10-minute Q&A where judges will probe further into the detail. More detailed information on this will be communicated upon practices being notified of their shortlisted status.
  • All shortlisted entries for the three live judged categories will receive one free ticket to AJ Retrofit Live. This is to be used for their chosen presenter. They will also be able to purchase one additional ticket at a 25% discount to bring one colleague, and a discount code will be provided for this.
  • All presentations will be complete by 5pm, and judges will then spend one hour deliberating in a private room to decide the winners. These winners will then be announced at the AJ Retrofit & Reuse Awards a few hours later, which is taking place in the same venue.