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Stirling shortlist: Zaha Hadid Architects

The AJ presents buildings, essays and archive material from the architects nominated for the 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize, sponsored by Benchmark

It wouldn’t be a Stirling Prize shortlist without an appearance from Zaha Hadid. Evelyn Grace Academy in south London marks the fifth time in six years that the Pritzker Prize-winning architect has been nominated for the award.

At last year’s ceremony Hadid finally triumphed with the dynamic MAXXI Museum in Rome; this year sees her £36.5 million academy in Brixton - complete with a running track, dance studio and sports hall – on the shortlist.

The Iraqi-born graduate of the Architectural Association is one of the most revered architects in the world today, with her buildings described as ‘luxury goods that people want to buy’. She was listed in New Statesman’s list of ‘50 People Who Matter 2010’ and her architectural reach is global.

In an exclusive piece for the AJ written last year, Zaha Hadid’s long-term collaborator Patrik Schumacher argued the case for parametricism taking the mantle as the unified style of architecture for the 21st century, and defended claims that the practice’s buildings didn’t work on a functional level. ‘The latest built works from Zaha Hadid Architects are much more than experimental manifesto projects; they succeed as high performance projects in the real world.’

In the AJ building study on Evelyn Grace Academy last November, Felix Mara concluded that the scheme’s success stems from the restrictions of the procurement procedures and public funding. He wrote that ‘design quality has been achieved through the use of geometry and a constrained palette of inexpensive materials’

The Aquatic Centre for the London 2012 Olympics recently open to widespread praise, and should the Evelyn Grace Academy pick up the Stirling Prize, it would complete another hugely successful year for Zaha Hadid and her practice.

The Stirling Prize winner will be announced at the Magna centre in Rotherham on Saturday 1 October.

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