A SOUTHAMPTON shopping centre has been crowned best in the world in an design competition.

In the glittering ceremony at Paris' UNESCO headquarters, Westquay was named the Best Shopping Centre Worldwide and handed the prize for best European Shopping Centre Design.

As reported the new part of Westquay opened just last year after an £85m build.

When it opened it was the biggest centre in Europe devoted to food and leisure.

Now architects Acme and owners Hammerson are celebrating after beating scores of other centres from around the world to two of the top accolades at the prestigious Prix Versailles 2018 awards.

Architects from countries around the world battle it out to be named the best in hotel, shop and restaurant design.

Speaking to the Echo Friedrich Ludewig, director at ACME said the company is "thrilled" at the award. He added: "It shows a future direction for retail that is not inward looking but embraces leisure and restaurants, creates new public open spaces and links into the historic city context.

"Developed with Hammerson and Southampton City Council since 2007, the scheme is the result of a long period of refinement, and has quickly become a place where to meet and spend time ice skating and enjoying strawberries and cream for the Wimbledon final. Watermark is a key stepping stone in the ongoing regeneration of Southampton City Centre, and we are excited to continue our work in the site over the coming years."

Councillor Christopher Hammond - in his first week as SCC leader - said: "I think this demonstrates what you can do when you combine great architecture, facilities that people want to use and great public realm.

"It's becoming a go-to destination for people coming to Southampton. I'm thrilled that we have both these awards - they are highly deserved."

Taking to social media to announce the win a spokesperson for Hammerson said the company is "excited."

A spokesperson for the Prix Versailles said: "The jury included the president of UIA Thomas Vonier and a number of renowned architects, among them Manuelle Gautrand, Wang Shu and Ma Yansong."

The prestigious Prix Versailles - named after Louis XIV 'the sun king's palace - are a bid to "blend culture and the commercial" by recognizing "the most remarkable structures, in terms of both interior and exterior architecture."

A spokesperson for the Prix Versailles said: "Because the Prix is associated with Versailles, we want that world renowned symbol of beauty and elegance to serve not as a model but as a beacon or impetus for quality commercial architecture, today and tomorrow."

A spokesperson for Southampton's business improvement district offered congratulations and said: "It is further recognition of our city’s ability to compete on the world stage."

Mark Baulch from Hampshire Chamber of Commerce added: "Entering awards is something that the Chamber is always recommending as a worthwhile exercise for businesses.

"We are pleased to see that the success of Westquay, including the recent investment in this part of the City, continues to attract new names and opportunities for more jobs and now these awards. The Chamber of Commerce congratulates Westquay and is delighted to see this further example of the vibrancy of the City and the appeal to residents and visitors that it holds.”