A NEW Merseyside classroom is in the running for a top architecture award that recognises outstanding buildings costing less than £350,000.
The food technology centre, at St Anselm's College, Birkenhead, was designed by city centre architects at Studio Three.
It was shortlisted in the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) 350Awards.
The awards were organised as part of the North West Architecture Festival which launches in Liverpool today.
RIBA's month-long festival will celebrate the region’s modern and classic buildings – with many events taking place in Liverpool itself.
The public are also being given the chance to vote for the People's Choice 350 Awards.
Studio Three director Mushtaq Saleri was one of the designers behind St Anselm's food tech centre, which is supposed to be ultra-sustainable.
The firm, which is based in the Vanilla Factory, in Fleet Street, narrowly missed out on winning a RIBA award last month (May) for the Chavasse Park pavilion it designed.
Recalling the St Anselm's project Mr Saleri, 35, said: "We pushed the boat out a bit. We said it doesn't have to be boring. It doesn't have to look cheap. It could be something dramatic.
"Because it's partly for design technology, it could be a teaching tool as well.
We came up with a very simple plan but introduced some sustainable materials. It's got a green roof and because the roof is slanted it lets in natural light – most days it doesn't need to have the lights on.
It's little things like that that make it a robust building.
The school says everyone's been itching to teach in it."
RIBA will launch the architecture festival at the Port of Liverpool Building on the Pier Head today.
Its North West director, Belina Irlam-Mowbray, said: "The North West has some of the most breathtaking buildings to be found in the country and it is really exciting that we can celebrate those that provoke the infamous civic pride of the North West with the people who interact with them on a daily basis.
"Many people think architecture is something that involves huge developments and massive budgets. But what is at the heart of architecture is how a well designed space can enhance the overall experience of a building.
"Architecture is for everyone: it comforts us at home, it impacts the way we work but more importantly it allows us to enhance the pleasure we take from our surroundings."
As part of the festival, architecture experts are organising walking tours round some of the city's newest, and oldest, buildings.
Liverpool John Moores University is opening the doors to its RIBA Award-winning Art and Design Academy, which is next to the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Tours are also being given of Liverpool One, the Martins Bank Building and the waterfront.
The festival opens at 2pm today, and the winners of the 350Awards will be announced at an event on June 26.
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