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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Top designer turned school around
Hilary Cottam
Hilary Cottam has won the 25,000 prize
A woman whose design skills helped turn around a south London school has been named Designer of the Year.

London-born Hilary Cottam is not a designer by trade but brings architects and strategists together to transform buildings like schools and prisons.

The 39-year-old, who took the 25,000 prize, changed the look of Kingsdale School in Dulwich in a bid to cut truancy and raise standards.

The school has now been named as one of the 20 most improved in the country.

'Imaginative and innovative'

Ms Cottam said: "Aesthetics are important. They matter. But the real issues are how they work for the professionals there and for the users."

The winner was chosen via the public online poll which made up a fifth of the vote and the remaining four fifths was by a jury's decision.

Alice Rawsthorn, director of the Design Museum, said: "Hilary Cottam is not a designer in the traditional sense, but she is a wonderfully worthy winner of Designer of the Year for the imaginative and innovative way she uses design as a strategic tool to modernise schools, prisons and other critically important areas of our lives."

The Designer of the Year exhibition is at the Design Museum until 19 June.

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