Welcome to this special issue of INSIDE featuring the winning, shortlisted and highly commended entries from the WAN Workspace Interiors Awards 2012.

This year's jury panel brought together a group of influential and innovative thinkers from all corners of the design industry. The jury was asked to judge entries on a number of factors, including design originality, innovation, sustainability and context. Participants were asked to demonstrate how their design addressed the key elements of the client brief, and to give specific examples of how the project has used design and / or materials to enhance the user experience, and how it integrates with its context and / or community.

The final long list of projects included entries from many different geographical areas and as the judging went on, specific trends began to surface. Sally Mackereth commented that "it is our job [as judges] to show things that are not necessarily our collective cultural taste" but that warrant design merit.

South East Asia was an area that sparked an interesting discussion with a variety of different projects.

The Artists' House in Beijing by Spactrum Studios - was recognised for its political and social context in relation to the materials incorporated in the design. Stainless steel replaces concrete as a traditional building material in a departure from the country's communist past. Sally commented that it was "interesting that they culturally regard concrete as the enemy, whereas here [in the UK] we are getting all excited about polished concrete floors."

The judges soon picked out a cluster of projects that they favoured ahead of the rest, and began the difficult task of whittling these down to the final shortlist.

Barker by David Clovers,, a private apartment in Hong Kong, was considered by Jane to have a "strong dramatic style and continuity with two or three simple, elegant statements expressed throughout the interior." However, David Redhead felt it did not "effectively deal with the palatial scale of the interior" seeming "too empty". The judges did generally favour the linearity of the interior and its dramatic edge.

Across the projects from the Asia references to continental styles were continuous, and "as a trend it feels like they are trying to show craftsmanship [in their designs] and that is something to encourage," said Sally.

UK projects that caused quite a stir included The Kensington Residence by Studio Seilern Architects, which despite its London location was considered by Hatta to be "not at all predictable." The central spiral steel staircase was thought to be "well considered", and "the mix of the raw material of the staircase and the Victorian architecture of the traditional Kensington house creates an interesting tension between the two treatments," said Sally.

Duggan Morris Architects dominated the UK projects with no less than three entries in the long list. The judges picked out Old Bearhurst as a favourite saying that it was a "very elegant version of how to convert rural buildings to contemporary living."

However, King's Grove in the London district of Peckham was praised for being "well executed and well detailed." Sally went on to say that "what they've been able to do is just pair it down into these very monolithic forms, flush, simple timbers and brick work and edited the furniture to give the right tone. Rather than pictures all over the walls, it's about the views out, the light in."

Jane liked how the "wood has been used as an accent within the space, a simple palette of just the grey brick and the simplicity of the forms in timber." Overall, the project was seen to be extremely competent and beautiful without the frippery of interior design.

Feeringbury Farm Barn by Hudson Architects is a renovation of a Grade II listed 16th century medieval barn in Essex and was admired for its sustainability and salvaged concrete silos that have been installed in the interior.

Moving across the Atlantic, the V4 House by Studio MK27 in Sao Paolo, Brazil was described by Jane as "two rectangles sitting at right angles to each other and the main space acting as a canopy," who thought the project to be an "incredibly simple, uncontrived, strong single move." At first the judges thought the linear construction of the project and the connection between the inside and out quite typical for the geographic area and climate. However, they particularly liked the open plan format of the interior and its "flexible space," as David put it.

Australasian projects were also prevalent throughout the long list. Hut on Sleds by Crosson Clark Carnachan Architects was a sustainable design entry from New Zealand, set within a coastal erosion zone where all buildings must be removable. As a result, the house sits on tracks which can be used to roll it off site. David said "the way it sits on the beach is very intriguing [and begs the question], 'what is it?'" It was considered to have a "good message" and be "like a ship's cabin - very ingenious" in its innovation.

Manning Road House by Noxon Griffin situated in Melbourne, Australia was received as "a very well handled and elegant project," with "well-scaled proportions and quirky details."

Under the umbrella of American "West Coast" design several projects were put under scrutiny including Coastal Residence by Carver + Schicketanz set on the cliffs in Big Sur, California. The setting of the project was very popular and typical of "that West Coast style, with lots of open ended spaces," however the project was felt not to "push the boundaries" and take full advantage of its surroundings.

La Muna by Oppenheim Architecture + Design is essentially a ski chalet in Aspen, Colorado set in stunning mountain surroundings. The project immediately caught the judges attention and was described by Sally as a design that "hits the balance between something being Spartan and yet comfortable." Other comments were as follows:

"It has great warmth to it, and it looks like you would discover your way through the space, continually finding wonderful pocket windows and small vistas. It is very rich in both planning and palette." - Jane

"This is obviously a very seductive piece of architecture, we all want to be there, but what they've done very cleverly is they have used the wonderful mountain light to exaggerate the textures, and yet have resisted the temptation to put too much in [to the interior], there is just enough. You can see how it would be the most perfect place to curl up under a rug and gaze out at the view." - Sally

"The furnishings are not overly contrived so there's a sense of fitting in with the architecture in a very attractive way." - Anna

"There is also an amazing transformation between before and after, that makes it feel very inspired." - Hatta

"A lot of the projects we looked at on the short list were quite empty inside, strong architecturally, but hadn't considered [the design] to that next layer, such as the ornaments, furniture etc. whereas this is complete." - Lee

"[La Muna has] a range of moods, the light and dark, cosy and open, all which you want from a ski lodge." - David

The final shortlist was a very strong group of the following contenders: V4 House by Studio MK27, The Kensington Residence by Studio Seilern Architects, Old Bearhurst by Duggan Morris Architects, Hut on Sleds by Crosson Clark Carnachan Architects and Barker by David Clovers. Manning Road House by Noxon Griffin was highly commended.

However, Oppenheim's Aspen retreat, La Muna, stood out as a clear and unanimous winner.