The Royal Institute of British Architects is one step closer to announcing the winner of its most prestigious prize, the Stirling Prize — the Institute’s most prestigious prize, given to the best building finished in the United Kingdom during the past year. Selected from this year’s National Awards winners, each of these six contenders will be evaluated particularly for its design excellence and significance in the evolution of architecture and the built environment. The Royal Institute of British Architect will reveal the winner in London on the evening of October 15.
The 2015 shortlisters are:
- Burntwood School, Wandsworth by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
- Darbishire Place, Peabody housing by Niall McLaughlin Architects
- Maggie’s Lanarkshire by Reiach and Hall Architects
- NEO Bankside by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
- University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building by Heneghan Peng Architects
- The Whitworth, University of Manchester by MUMA
Jury comments: “Neo Bankside is seductive architecture. On a pocket of land between some single-storey alms houses and the multiplying monoliths that are Tate Modern, the developers have squeezed in a group of exquisite towers and some of the best new landscaping in London…Overall the scheme contributes to a debate about urban design and building form and is a well-mannered example of a structurally expressive architecture. Project-directed by partner Graham Stirk, an architect with a watch-maker’s precision, this is a tour de force: in its achievement of density, in its use of economical pre-fabricated elements, in its intricate weaving of public and private space. The form and positioning of the blocks with their counter-intuitively chamfered corners mean there are very few pinch points and little overlooking, allowing 360 degree views out. Coupled with the exo-skeletal structure and the nearly detached lift-towers, the floor plates have been freed up making the scheme more market-responsive…”
Jury comments: “This is a truly collaborative project in which mature architects with deep understanding and experience of what makes for a good school, working with landscapers who believe that a light touch can transform an existing landscape, and a graphic artist whose work has long made way-finding an art form in AHHM projects, to produce one last hurrah for the Building Schools for the Future programme. And, lest we forget, BSF may have been based on a wasteful methodology but it did have at its heart a desire to improve the fabric and learning environments of all our schools. Burntwood also reminds us of the previous time when such aspirations were the norm: the 1950s and early ‘60s when the LCC and GLC programmes led by Leslie Martin were giving London light-filled, beautifully organised schools. Here at Burntwood a fine Leslie Martin-designed building has informed the new architecture and the relationship between the new concrete buildings and the older buildings adds a sense of architectural history and depth to the whole site. It gives the lie to the notion that the super-block with the vast wasteful atrium is the answer to the question, how do we best design a school?…”
Jury comments: “…This is a brilliant piece of urban design. The dignified new building, with its refined proportions and details, replaces a well detailed and proportioned Peabody mansion block taken out in World War II by a V2 bomb, along with another block whose footprint now provides a garden at the heart of the newly completed courtyard still graced by the remaining three Edwardian blocks. A casual comparison of the old and new elevations reveals the subtlety of the new architecture. The use of materials and form means that the new building complements its neighbours without mimicking them. It represents a re-invention of the deep reveal: the use of slightly projecting pre-cast reveals to the windows and balconies gives an unusual depth to the modelling of the facades, a subtle beauty. The way a sliver of the building on the south side slides out of the square and forms a very narrow and elegant elevation that leads one into the scheme, provides a further level of interest and architectural distinctiveness. It also made the scheme stack up – the extra few flats made viable the completion of the square that Peabody had not contemplated in 70 years…”
Jury comments: “So the architects were ideal candidates to solve the problem: how to make something that is of the world and yet gives shelter from it, that turns its back but does not close its eyes. The answer is in a new surrounding perforate wall of hand-made Danish brick that recaptures some sense of paradise – which means literally walled enclosure – offering a degree of separation from the nearby hospital grounds. Stand on the rear terrace and you can see the houses opposite, walk down the steps into the courtyard and they and the rest of the worlds are hidden…”
Jury comments: “A project for all seasons, where art, nature and architecture combine – this could be the eulogy for a building which is neither high-key nor overtly fashionable, rather it is reminiscent of 1950s Aalto. This extension to the extended 19th century Whitworth Gallery on the edge of Whitworth Park in Manchester builds on John Bickerdike’s 1960s work in a way that on entering seems subtle in the extreme but then gradually builds outwards in a sympathetic but entirely original way. The worst of the 1960s additions to the 19th century gallery, such as suspended ceilings, have been stripped out and earlier spatial relationships reinstated; the gallery now embraces the park. The café is both a pavilion in the park and a place from which to look back into the galleries. The structural stainless steel mullions of the new rear elevation and café both dissolve and reflect. The scheme revises the basis of the environmental standards for exhibiting art with old and new galleries flexible enough to be black-box or allow daylight in. The environmental strategy is equally inventive taking a passive-first approach that has been delivered unobtrusively, with no exposed services whatsoever – a curator’s delight…”
Jury comments: “Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Maritime Greenwich and opposite Hawksmoor’s St Alfege, this building, with all its frisky gravitas, provides the main university library and the departments of Architecture, Landscape and Arts. It is a startling building to put in Greenwich. Most new building in such a context is too concerned with looking over its shoulder to achieve real architecture…Conceptually strong in urban design terms, it relates well to the street in terms of its materiality and massing. The building broken down both in plan and section into a series of smaller elements separated by courtyards and staircases, and articulated at the street level as a series of retail units. The plan follows a clear diagram with its parallel fingers of accommodation separated by courtyards which extend to break up the long street-facing elevation. Externally the forms are well articulated giving depth and interest, with fenestration carefully considered to take advantage of key views, vistas and reflections, particularly on the long side elevation facing the railway. The building is full of light and generous spaces and benefits from clear vertical circulation – the acoustics are remarkable.”
— Anna Kats (@coldwarcasual)
Images courtesy RIBA.