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Zaha Hadid wins Stirling Prize at fourth attempt

Zaha Hadid’s ‘sinuous’ and ‘dynamic’ MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Art museum in Rome has won this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize

It is the first time Hadid has landed the £20,000 prize having been shortlisted for the prize on three previous occasions (Nord Park Cable Railway, Austria, 2008; Phaeno Science Center, Wolfsburg, Germany, 2006; BMW Central Building, Leipzig, Germany, 2005).

She saw off competition from the hotly tipped Neues Museum in Berlin, by former Stirling Prize-winner and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford by Rick Mather, voted the People’s Choice winner in an RIBA poll, to scoop the most prestigious prize in UK architecture.

Hadid also beat the school projects by DSDHA and dRMM as well as the low-budget, mixed-used office and home in east London by Theis and Khan.

A delighted Hadid said ‘it was a great honour’ to receive the award ‘in particular because it [was] in Jim Stirling’s name who was a very great architect and who taught us how to deal with complexity’.

It is really very exciting for me to receive a British prize - for a change

She added: ‘It was a shame that our client Pio Baldi could not be here because he lost his passport. In a way it is a confirmation of the Italianness of this project.’

Hadid went on to thank long-term collaborator Patrik Shumacher and said: ‘It is really very exciting for me to receive a British prize - for a change.’

‘People ask me why I stay here in Britain and I tell them it is because of the Architectural Association, the great engineers, the amazing people and London - it is a fantastic city.

‘I hope any government would support architects and young people in this country. I’m sorry for the guys and gals doing the schools [DSDHA and dRMM] but your time will come.’

She concluded: ‘I’m very thrilled it does mean a lot to mean to me.’

RIBA President Ruth Reed, speaking at the televised ceremony, said: ‘In MAXXI we have a much deserved winner, and I am delighted to award Zaha Hadid Architects with architecture’s highest accolade.’

The 2010 RIBA Stirling Prize judges were Ruth Reed, RIBA President (chair); Ivan Harbour, architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners; Edward Jones, architect; Dixon Jones, Professor; Lisa Jardine, historian and writer; and Mark Lawson, broadcaster.

Full judges’ citation

‘MAXXI is described as a building for the staging of art, and whilst provocative at many levels, this project shows a calmness that belies the complexities of its form and organisation.  The nature of the project means everything has to be over-specified – throughout the design process the architects had no idea what the series of rooms would be used to hang, so walls which will bear a ton of rusting steel might be graced by miniatures. 

‘The museum, for all its structural pyrotechnics, is rationally organised as five main suites. The building is bravely day lit with a sinuous roof of controllable skylights, louvres and beams which orientate and excite the visitor and create uplifting spaces. 

‘This is a mature piece of architecture, the distillation of years of experimentation, only a fraction of which ever got built.  It is the quintessence of Zaha’s constant attempt to create a landscape as a series of cavernous spaces drawn with a free, roving line.  The resulting piece, rather than prescribing routes, gives the visitor a sense of exploration. It is perhaps her best work to date.’

Readers' comments (3)


    Well Done Zara Hadid for winning, another fine building from this practice. (Did a night out in Rome tip the balance for the judges?)

    Well done also to Rick Mather for winning the RIBA Peoples Poll, it was only £20K don't worry about it!

    ....and a massive personal well done to dRMM and DSDHA, we love those two schools, you have set the benchmark!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Demolition of Pimlico school = worse decision ever. The dust makes me cry as a cycle past the site to work.....

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  • The overhang (pictured) over the front is remarkably like Pimlico School - which was demolished this summer by the barbarians (politicians) including Sir Simon Milton (then Westminster Council, now Boris' deputy Mayor for Planning!!!), Jack Straw (former Chair of Governors who cooked up the demolition), and Lord McIntosh (who ignored EH advice to list). But no matter: Zaha's new school in Shakespeare Rd (Brixton) is almost complete and is a worthy successor to Pimlico. Ha ha, Zaha...

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