Sarah Allan, Head of Architecture at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is one of our 18-strong judging panel for the Architecture Today Awards. She shares her hopes that the awards will support the need for a more iterative approach to design.


Sarah Allan’s role at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities advises on design matters particularly relating to housing and place-making. She was previously managing director of the developer Solidspace and prior to that spent a decade as a built environment expert at the Design Council.

What attracted you to be a judge at Architecture Today Awards?
Consideration of buildings in use at least three years post-completion, and judging performance, either through Post Occupancy Evaluation or other performance data, sets these awards apart and places how buildings work for their owners, occupiers and public, at the heart of the awards.

What qualities will you be looking out for – what will make a project stand out to you?
A building that is loved by those who use it is surely testament to its success. A test of success for me is whether the original intent and performance targets live up to the day-to-day use and experience of the building.

What do you hope will be taken away from the live presentation and judging process?
Appreciation that the life of a building only begins once it is occupied, and architects have a role to play to continue to take an interest in the performance of the building and the satisfaction of its occupants. The need of buildings to reduce energy use and adapt to our changing climate means that we need a more iterative approach to design – learning from customer feedback and performance in use to inform future projects.

What building would you most like to see among the entries?
From warehouses to homes and commissioned by different clients – from public sector, private sector (large and small) and community groups.

Find out more about the Architecture Today Awards and how to enter by visiting the Architecture Today Awards portal.