MnM Studio and two freelance Italian architects were named joint winners of the top award at the Bespoke Access Awards last night.
MnM Studio Architects and freelance architects Maria Brighenti and Marcello D'Orsi were jointly awarded the £20,000 Celia Thomas Prize, the overall prize of the design competition championing accessible hospitality solutions. The winners of the competition, run in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects, were announced at the Palace of Westminster last night.
MnM Studio based in Dubai (pictured right, Maher Hadid from MnM) won for its ‘empathy through aesthetics' accommodation design based around the four senses with extensive use of Braille, which aimed to support guests' emotions while maintaining a stylish design.
"[It] perfectly encapsulates what we are aiming to do with the Access initiative," said Baroness Celia Thomas (pictured, centre), chair of the judging panel and patron of the awards. "The emphasis placed on the emotional state of the guest was particularly impressive, given this is an area that is often overlooked."
Brighenti and D'Orsi, based in Italy, were named joint winners for their design which focused on renovating existing accommodation for disabled travellers, concentrating on hotel public spaces.
Alan Stanton, Stirling Prize-winning architect and judge, said: "These are areas often overlooked… and it is easy to think of them as merely transient. But they can significantly improve or disrupt a guest's experience, so it was exciting to see them highlighted and approached with such care."
Robin Sheppard (pictured, left), chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for Disabled People, said: "We were extremely pleased to see the competition attracting a truly global roster of entrants this year. The Access Awards continue to grow and evolve, but the high quality of entries ensures our collective focus remains on improving the experience for all hotel guests."
The full list of winners included:
• Celia Thomas Prize: MnM Studio Architects, and Maria Brighenti and Marcello D'Orsi
• Architecture Category: MnM Studio Architects, and Maria Brighenti and Marcello D'Orsi
• Product Design Category: Wilson Mason
• Service Applications (Training) Category: Purcell
• Service Applications (Digital) Category: Neatebox
The Leonard Cheshire Award for Inclusive Employment was not awarded, which judges said suggested a "lack of attention in this area".
The ceremony marked the second and last ‘Bespoke Access Awards', with the announcement that the awards will be renamed the Access Awards following a partnership agreement between Bespoke Access, Blue Badge Style and Leonard Cheshire Disabiliy, which will merge the Blue Badge Style Awards and Bespoke Access Awards.
In the future, the awards will occur biannually, double the number of award categories from five to 10, and have a reduced entry fee.