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Chipperfield slams 'secretive' Stirling Prize judging

David Chipperfield has called for a review of the voting system for the Stirling Prize and an end to the use of a secret ballot.

Chipperfield criticised the judges' decisionmaking process, claiming it has led to a lack of clear thinking behind the choice of this year's winner. In the final round of judging, the panel of five voted in secret for their favourite scheme. But Chipperfield - who serves on a number of juries and was on the Stirling shortlist for his Ernstings Service Centre - told the AJ he was 'shocked' when he learnt the judges had not reached a consensus.

'It should be a group decision, because what comes out of a group decision is the dynamics of debate. It's fundamental to prize-giving, ' he said.

'The result was that no one could describe why the winner was chosen. No one explained the extraordinary decision to award the prize to a bridge.

'When you give a prize for a single building there should be a clear idea of what the architecture is all about, ' he said, adding that the ceremony lacked any cultural content. 'I didn't hear one mention of James Stirling. No one talked about architecture. We were all just props for the final scene of a television programme.'

Will Alsop, who won with his Peckham Library in 2000, criticised the inclusion of lay-persons on the jury. Alsop, who failed to pick up even one of the RIBA Awards this year, said he would be bowing out of the competition for the next few years.

Other observers also questioned the validity of giving the prize to a bridge rather than a building.

Maxwell Hutchinson, ex-RIBA president and broadcaster, said the Stirling organisers should decide whether the competition was for buildings or works of engineering.

'A valid entry should have a sewer connection, ' he said. 'If you look at all the complex issues that go into a building, even the most humble building, few apply to a bridge.'

However, RIBA president Paul Hyett defended the decision to keep the judging anonymous, claiming it led to honesty and avoided the bitter acrimony that can follow the judging of prizes. He also defended the winning choice as an architectdesigned project.Hyett added: 'The prize is central to the RIBA's work to get more people interested in architecture in order to improve people's lives.

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