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RIBA Stirling Prize 2014 shortlist revealed

The finalists for the UK’s most prestigious architecture award have been announced

The ‘omnipresent’ Shard by Renzo Piano is already bookmaker William Hill’s runaway favourite (2/1) to win this year’s prize.

Zaha Hadid is also hotly tipped to win her third Stirling Prize (5/2) with her practice’s ‘conceptually flawless’ London Aquatics Centre.  

The shortlist, made up of ‘major new additions’ to the urban fabric, also includes Mecanoo’s Library of Birmingham, Haworth Tompkins’ Everyman Theatre in Liverpool and the Manchester School of Art by multi RIBA award-winning practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects’ student centre at the LSE completes the list. It is the fifth time the Dublin-based practice has been in the running for the accolade.

Speaking about the shortlist Stephen Hodder, RIBA President and first ever winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize (1996), said: ‘Every one of the six shortlisted buildings shows what great public architecture can do: transcend mere construction to something poetic. The shortlist comprises no ordinary new swimming pool, office block, theatre, library or university – they are beautiful, inspiring new buildings their communities can be proud of.

‘This shortlist sends a clear message that great buildings don’t only need great architects and clients, but to be truly successful they need the patronage of the community they serve.’

The six finalists were chosen from the 44 RIBA Award winners and the 12 EU Award winners.

The winner will be announced the evening of Thursday 16 October at RIBA HQ, Portland Place in London.

This year’s judges are: Spencer de Grey of Foster + Partners (chair), MJ Long of Long and Kentish architects, Cindy Walters of Walters and Cohen, Stephen Kieran of Kieran Timberlake and Timothy Sainsbury.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

Judge’s citation

‘This world-class building was a fitting backdrop for the 2012 Olympic Games. Inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, the undulating roof sweeps up from the ground like a wave to fold over the building and define two separate pools.

‘It is very beautiful; sensual with a generosity of space. The pure and powerful form is conceptually flawless; it will be a favourite venue for Londoners for generations to come.’

Starting odds: 5/2

See drawings and photographs of Zaha Hadid Architects’ Aquatics Centre in the AJ Buildings Library

Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo

Judge’s citation

‘Three stacked boxes adorned with a glittering filigree screen are the signature of this landmark, which makes a bold and transformative addition to the city. With formal and informal spaces for reading, relaxing, playing and participating in the library’s programme of events, it has shaken the traditional perception of a library to one where families and readers can spend a whole day learning and engaging.’

Starting odds: 5/1

See drawings and photographs of Mecanoo’s Library of Birmingham in the AJ Buildings Library

London School of Economics – Saw Swee Hock Student Centre by O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects

Judge’s citation

‘This is an object lesson in creating a surprising and striking building on a difficult urban site. Formed as a continuous spiral rising upwards, the outer brick walls slope and twist, gouged with cuts and cracks that give light and form. The floors take up complex shapes, yet all the spaces feel natural and functional. This is a building showing a high degree of craftsmanship.’

Starting odds: 4/1

See drawings and photographs of O’Donnell & Tuomey’s London School of Economics – Saw Swee Hock Student Centre in the AJ Buildings Library

Manchester School of Art by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Judge’s citation

The major refurbishment of a 1960s tower and new extension with open studios and workshops has been executed with great skill and innovation. Design excellence has been coupled with a visionary brief calling for staff and students to break traditional course divisions and work across disciplines. This is a building where the exploration of design and creativity will flourish.

Starting odds: 9/1

London Bridge Tower (The Shard) by Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Judge’s citation

‘1.2 million square feet of accommodation has been built on a small parcel of land directly next to one of London’s major transport hubs. To make a tower on such a tight site a thing of great beauty is a rare achievement. Six uses occupy multiple floors: health clinic, offices, restaurants, hotel, residential apartments and public viewing gallery; to create a ‘vertical village’. The building is omnipresent in London and has added immeasurably to the city.’

Starting odds: 2/1

Everyman Theatre, Liverpool by Haworth Tompkins

Judge’s citation

‘After nine years gestation, Liverpool has a brand new purpose-built theatre of outstanding quality. The selection and use of materials has created an exceptionally tactile building. This is a building that will age gracefully, continually enriched by the patina of daily use. It will both reassure and delight its loyal audience and those discovering this gem for the first time.’

Starting odds: 6/1

See drawings and photographs of Haworth Tompkins’ Everyman Theatre in the AJ Buildings Library

 

Readers' comments (10)

  • Is the Stirling Prize the name now for the Carbuncle Cup?

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  • Unfortunately this list will help to confirm public preconceptions. It is also a shame that this year it seems that all of the projects are large buildings, especially when there were a number of modest buildings that were worthy of going forward.

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  • Stop knocking it very year - very tedious. Its a very strong shortlist. Some fantastic buildings. Well done to everyone who received an award this year and very well done to the shortlisted buildings.

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  • Zaha or Renzo, the rest are far away...

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  • From transparency to solidity, from waves to screens, each building is a 'design trend' and an excellence in its own right. Each building is an icon of a contemporary design approach ... they are all winners.
    Having said this, my biased vote is for Renzo Piano!

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  • An inspiring group of buildings. The care, attention and sheer level of crafting in these projects is a joy, a refresher and a strong hope for the future.

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  • I don't see any art in SHard. Zaha's is the clear winner for me.

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  • The Mecanoo/Make birmingham Library is a disgrace to the old part of birmingham city centre. Its brash, ill considered and already looks dated.

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  • From this list I'd go for the Everyman, Haworth Tompkins appear to have improved the building whilst not letting go of any of the accessibility of this important local icon - quite a tricky task and well-achieved, it would seem.

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  • I hope the Aquatics Centre wins. I go swimming there every week. Its a privilege to swim there.

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