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'Mini Pompidou'wins Stirling but planners take a bashing

Alsop & Stormer's Peckham Library and Media Centre scooped the £20,000 Stirling Prize last Saturday, sparking bitter attacks from the practice on local authority planners who block ambitious architecture.

A victorious Will Alsop lashed the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for 'living in the past' and demanded that Camden 'pull its socks up', In his televised acceptance speech, he said: 'Fuck the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.But thank God for all those imaginative boroughs that know that the way out of their problems is architecture.'

He said later that he singled out these two boroughs because he lives in Kensington and Chelsea and because they are the antithesis of Southwark, where Peckham Library was built.

'We have to remind the wayward boroughs that architecture matters, ' he said.'They don't believe in architecture to make their boroughs better.'

Earlier in the evening RIBA president Marco Goldschmied also took a shot at planners after Softroom's Kielder Belvedere in Northumberland, which did not need planning permission, won the £5,000 Stephen Lawrence prize (as predicted in AJ 19.10.00).

'Such are the keyholes of opportunity through which strong, innovative architecture has to squeeze in the nanny society, 'Goldschmied said.He also complained that too many planning applications are made by nonarchitects in the UK and called on the government to follow Spain's lead, where each application must be made by an architect.

Royal Town Planning Institute president Kevin Murray said he felt 'relaxed' about the attack. 'There is a frustration among designers that everything is looked at by people who don't know what they are talking about and I'm sympathetic with that.We need more design input in the process.'

The judging of the Stirling Prize was also touched with controversy as confessional artist and judge Tracey Emin argued strongly against the eventual winner, describing it as 'a bloody mess'. She said the architects had been 'too flighty on design, too arty and had not actually considered the needs of communication in the building and what it is actually for'.

She stormed out of the library during the judges'visit.Emin is thought to have voted for the BA London Eye but also argued strongly for Chetwood Associates' Sainsbury's supermarket in Greenwich, which eventually won a separate sustainability award. Eric Parry also dissented and plumped for the bookmaker's favourite, the New Art Gallery, Walsall, but described Peckham as 'a very good winner'.

Panel chairman Michael Manser said that the general feeling was that Peckham was the most original scheme: 'That was the one which had a streak of originality. It wasn't perfect but it was like a mini Pompidou centre.' It is understood that Future Systems' Amanda Levete and RIBA Journal editor Amanda Baillieu picked Peckham.

Rogers' and Foster's entries, 88 Wood Street and Canary Wharf Underground Station, were not real contenders because they were 'refinements'of already established styles, jurors said.

Will Alsop said that had Peckham not been on the shortlist he would have chosen Sauerbruch Hutton's GSW building. It was his third time on the Stirling Prize shortlist, after figuring previously with North Greenwich Underground Station and Le Grand Bleu in Marseille.

Other winners at the event were the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which was named Client of the Year, and the JC Decaux UK headquarters in Brentford by Foster & Partners, which clinched the Crown Estates award for conservation.

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