Our RIBA Awards special offers a picture of UK architecture today, says Christine Murray
All together, the RIBA has awarded 94 regional awards, 50 national RIBA Awards, nine EU RIBA Awards and 12 International RIBA Awards for 2012. If you are one of the recipients, your work now sets the benchmark for UK architecture, having been chosen by peers and industry leaders to represent the best work of the profession from the past two years.
In this week’s magazine (AJ 21.06.12 digital edition), you’ll find an introduction to each typology and citations provided by RIBA of each winning scheme. This week’s magazine also went to print with a different cover for each project eligible for the Stirling Prize.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, public-sector projects are thinly represented in the national awards, with the impact of government cutbacks finally beginning to show. In the health typology, just three buildings won accolades this year, and two of them are Maggie’s Centres (OMA and Kisho Kurokawa with Garbers & James). Only four housing projects picked up gongs (RHWL and Richard Griffiths Architects’ St Pancras Chambers, Peabody Avenue by Haworth Tompkins, Union North’s Saxton Leeds, and Glenn Howell’s Triangle).
As for schools, there were just three awards given (AHMM’s Kirk Balk College, Cottrell & Vermeulen’s Brentwood Sixth Form Centre and Hopkins’ Henrietta Barnett School). The lack of award-winning projects shows how much the austerity drive has degraded the architectural quality of buildings in these sectors.
As for geography, predictably, the bulk of the national awards went to projects in London. Five of the city’s 14 award-winning schemes were in West London, the more moneyed end of town. Just two award-winners were located in South London, three in North London, and interestingly, three in the East London (including the London 2012 stadium), which looks indicative of a shift eastwards as a result of the Games. Few Olympic venues are on this year’s list, suggesting many (including Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre) will submit next year.
Scotland scooped five national awards this year, suggesting its semi-autonomy has preserved the quality of its architecture. The East region picked up four, while North West and Yorkshire each won three. Wales, the North East, East Midlands and South/South East, Ireland, and Northern Ireland scooped two each.
While one-off houses are well represented in the national awards, the list is also heavily dominated by cultural buildings, from Edward Cullinan Architects’ BFI Master Film Store to David Chipperfield Architects’ Hepworth Wakefield; and from Page\Park’s Scottish National Portrait Gallery to O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Lyric Theatre. Again, not entirely surprising, but indicative that, while the recession has slowed investment in the housing, health and schools sectors, cultural clients have not forgotten the value and importance of good design.
Congratulations to the architects of all RIBA Award-winning projects, but also, congratulations and thank you to their enlightened clients.