Harlow was designated a New Town shortly after World War II, to meet the huge demand for housing in the South East following the devastation caused in London by the Blitz.

The original masterplan for the town, drawn up by Sir Frederick Gibberd in 1947, included an abundance of green spaces, an extensive cycle route network, and cutting-edge building design from some of the most recognised architects of the post-war era.

As a result, Harlow became a truly novel town; home to the first pedestrian precinct, the first modern-style residential tower block, and the first purpose-built health centre in Great Britain.

Harlow Civic Society was founded in 1999 to appreciate, encourage and conserve Harlow as a balanced community with a unique architectural design and heritage. In 2016, the organisation launched the Harlow Architectural Design Awards, sponsored by Places for People and Architecture and Design Services.

The awards have been launched to recognise the very best in Harlow’s existing architecture, as well as encouraging excellence in the design of Harlow’s development over the coming years.

Each year, one residential and one non-residential building, and (from 2019) one environmental project, completed in the preceding 12 months is selected by an expert judging panel following a public vote.

Photography courtesy of Alastair Howe, used with thanks.