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RIBA Stirling Prize 2012 shortlist revealed

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The AJ can reveal the six contenders shortlisted for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize

David Chipperfield has been named on the prize’s shortlist for the third year in a row and there are two nominations for buildings by Rem Koolhaas’ practice OMA.

Already the bookmakers’ favourite, Chipperfield’s Hepworth Wakefield gallery is joined among the finalists by OMA’s Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Glasgow and the firm’s New Court Rothschild Bank in London which it worked on with Allies & Morrison.

Unsurprisingly, after the Olympic Delivery Authority prematurely claimed it had already been shortlisted (AJ 13.07.2012), Populous’ London Olympic Stadium has made the final six along with Stanton William’s Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge and O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

The 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist

Now into its 17th year the annual Stirling Prize is worth £20,000 to the victor who will be announced on 13 October (2012). However for the first time in more than a decade the Stirling Prize ceremony will not be broadcast on television (see AJ 06.07.2012).

RIBA President Angela Brady said: ‘We have an incredibly strong list of contenders. All of the shortlisted buildings demonstrate the essence of great architecture; they are human-scale buildings, places to inspire, entertain, educate and comfort their visitors and passers-by. Every building not only works beautifully from within but has a superb relationship with its surroundings, with a strong interplay between the two.

She added: ‘They don’t shout ‘look at me’ and even the tallest building, New Court in the City of London, has created good views for passing pedestrians, meeting the challenge of delivering good urban design in an historic area. The 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize judges have a difficult job to select a winner from this pool of great talent.’

This year’s judges are: Nicholas Grimshaw (Chair) – former president of the Royal Academy; Mark Jones - Master of St Cross College Oxford, and former Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Joanna van Heyningen - architect, van Heyningen & Haward Architects; Hilde Daem - architect, Robbrecht + Daem, Belgium and; Naomi Cleaver - designer, writer and broadcaster.

Judges citations

1. The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire by David Chipperfield Architects
David Chipperfield Architects is the only previous RIBA Stirling Prize winner among this year’s shortlisted architects. This is the eighth time that David Chipperfield Architects has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, and the third year running; they now match Foster + Partners who have also been shortlisted for the prize eight times.

From the outside, the gallery is interesting to look at from any angle with the smaller blocks complementing the scale and form of the existing industrial buildings on the site. Inside, the ten blocks create a series of relaxed and intimate exhibition spaces, with great flow and movement between interconnecting rooms.’
‘The distinctive dusky mauve colour of the concrete gives the building a unique identity

The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire by David Chipperfield Architects

Source: Iwan Baan

The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire by David Chipperfield Architects

2. London Olympic Stadium by Populous
This is the first time that Populous has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize

‘The stadium has been designed so that it can be taken down and reused in another location – or taken apart and made smaller. It has a sunken arena so the ground level entrance is actually half-way up the stadium – reducing the number of stairs spectators have to climb to the upper tiers. There is a spirit of fun - the design team has designed a space to create an amazing atmosphere, where every seat has a great view.’

London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Source: Morley von Sternberg

London Olympic Stadium by Populous

3. The Lyric Theatre, Belfast by O’Donnell + Tuomey
O’Donnell + Tuomey are a Dublin-based practice. This is the fourth time the Dublin-based practice has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize and for the second year in a row: last year its An Gaelaras cultural centre in Derry was shortlisted.

‘The architects have responded superbly to considerable challenges, including the building’s small, awkwardly irregular and steeply sloping site. The distinctive red ‘Belfast brick’ echoes the existing south Belfast residential landscape. The architects have created an exceptional auditorium – aiming for the seating to be twisted ‘like the crease of a hand’ so that people could see each other and to save actors from performing to a symmetrically divided audience. The auditorium has a special, sculptural interior and incredible acoustics.’

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast by O’Donnell + Tuomey

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast by O’Donnell + Tuomey


4. Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA
This is the second time that OMA has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize and it is the only practice to have two buildings on the 2012 shortlist.  In 2007 OMA’s Casa da Musica in Portugal was shortlisted. Rem Koolhaas, who founded OMA, had known Maggie Keswick Jencks (after whom the Maggie’s Centres are named) since the 1960s. Lily Jencks, Maggie’s daughter, was the landscape designer on the project.

‘The building succeeds in the central aim of all Maggie’s Centres – to create an environment of practical and emotional support for people with cancer. They aim to kindle a sense of curiosity and imagination - to be grand in ambition but small in scale. The distinctive ‘doughnut’ shape of the centre allows for all the rooms to surround an internal landscaped garden. There are no corridors or isolated rooms, but a series of interlocking spaces with a clever use of sliding walls to open and close areas, offering flexibility.’

Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA

Source: Philippe Ruault

Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA

5. New Court, London by OMA with Allies and Morrison
OMA’s second building on this year’s shortlist. Allies and Morrison has previously been shortlisted twice for the prize.

’The new building opens up views to a Wren church by cleverly creating a pathway towards the church and generous sight lines from the pavement. The architects have created a synthesis between an office and a museum. New Court is a showcase for the Rothschild art collection, aspects of which have been carefully incorporated into the design of the building. The building has a superb attention to detail; the materials used create a strong sense of understated elegance.’

Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA

Source: Philippe Ruault

New Court, Rothschild Bank in London by OMA and Allies & Morrison

6. Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge by Stanton Williams
This is the first time that Stanton Williams have been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

The laboratory is carefully designed to complement its setting –  the relationship to the surrounding 19th century, Grade II listed garden is central to the building’s identity. It cleverly mixes the private and the public – the security and complex scientific needs of a laboratory with a public botanic garden café. The architects have created a stimulating working environment to attract world-class scientists, including sociable spaces and smaller meeting points alongside research spaces.’

Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge by Stanton Williams

Source: Hufton + Crow

Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge by Stanton Williams

Previous RIBA Stirling Prize winners include:

  • Evelyn Grace Academy (2011) and MAXXI Museum, Rome (2010) both by Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (2009)
  • Accordia housing development by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/Alison Brooks Architects/Macreanor Lavington (2008)
  • The Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects (2007)
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