TWO BUILDINGS have scooped the top awards in the search for the best designed building in the Solent area.

The city’s £15m Titanic themed SeaCity museum and a special needs school in Totton were the big winners at the 2012 Solent Design Awards.

The awards seek to recognise the stunning buildings, places or spaces across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight which inspire the community in a recession. An expert judging panel was put together of top architects and academics.

A “people’s poll” award went to the SeaCity Museum which has transformed Southampton’s former Grade II listed magistrates’ court into exhibition spaces alongside a striking new wing to the Civic Centre.

The judges praised the ambition to create a strong relationship to the west side of the Civic Centre complex, the way in which the museum re-uses the old court spaces well, and the “confidence” to create a 21st-century design within a listed building.

Paul Grover, of the University of Portsmouth, which managed the awards, said: “The public’s view is as important as the professionals’ as they are the people who have to live with the design and can really attest to its true value.”

Forest Park Primary School, is custom- built for children with a range of complex learning difficulties designed by Hampshire County Council architects, won the overall award.

One of the judges, Bryan Avery, from Avery Architects, praised the design of a “highly specialised environment”, that avoided any “institutional feel”.

“The architects are to be congratulated on creating a wonderful and uplifting school where architecture and landscaping coalesce beautifully.

“It is a terrific resolution of a complex brief where the attention to detail has been superb,” he said.

The awards, sponsored by construction group Bouygues UK, the Barker Mills Foundation, the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) and the University of Portsmouth, were held at Portsmouth Guildhall.