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All bets off

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Just who will win the Stirling Prize? The secret ballot takes place this Saturday afternoon, shortly before the big bash at the Science Museum.

Channel 4 will be there, though the programme will not be broadcast live, presumably giving time for a well-edited film which will appear the next day. It is hard to predict the outcome, not least because the seven schemes represent different aspects of architectural culture, as do the five judges - Michael Manser, Eric Parry, and the trio mentioned last week, Amanda Baillieu, Tracey Emin and Amanda Levete. Think about the shortlist and try matching a judge to each scheme: the Millennium Wheel (sensation, spectacle, brilliant design); Canary Wharf Station (architecture in the service of public transport, magnificent monumentality); Peckham Library (life-affirming architecture for ordinary people, regeneration standard-bearer); Walsall Art Gallery (architecture as intellectual activity, superb design and control); GSW headquarters, (reconciliation and synthesis of architecture, history, culture and urbanism); Daiwa offices (brilliant meeting of commerce, architecture and workspace); Sainsbury's at Greenwich (instant hit with the public, proof that good architecture, sustainability and profit are compatible). Since there are seven schemes but only five judges, at least two schemes will be eliminated without a single vote, possibly more. However, the different tastes of the judges could easily lead to a five-way split; assuming two schemes are eliminated after the first round, the second-round vote could be a repeat of the first. That is when it will get interesting. Anonymity can be such an obstacle to speed.

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