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Stirling Prize 2012: who the AJ readers want to win

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The AJ asked its readers which project they wanted to win this year’s ‘architectural Oscars’ and why. Here is a a selection of the responses.

John Roberston of John Robertson Architects - backing the Olympic Stadium
‘My vote goes to Populous for the Olympic stadium: it captures the spirit of 2012 and is a building everyone has enjoyed and shows what can be achieved by creative architectural design within a very defined and constrained brief.’

Roger FitzGerald, ADP - backing the Lyric
‘It’s just a hunch that this is going to be O’Donnell and Toumey’s year.’

Malcolm Reading, Malcolm Reading Consultants - backing the Hepworth.
‘My winner is Chipperfield’s Wakefield Hepworth. Rarely is a building so perfectly in tune with its setting and contents. The apparent simplicity of the building’s form veils a beautiful complexity of space and circulation, so very in keeping with the deeply held principles expressed in Hepworth’s work. Chipperfield has created a series of spaces where architecture is politely deferential, and this sensibility extends to the finishes, lighting and acoustics. It’s not an expensive building and it does not try to replicate the abstraction in Hepworth’s work, instead using scale, proportion and a limited palette of everyday materials to make a setting for the story of her life through sculpture. It’s not over-serious and the glimpses of the landscape are generous and quite fun. Chipperfield is becoming our new cultural architect-of-choice and this may stretch his ability to deliver, but at Wakefield he shows how a good brief and a well-mannered design can create lasting magic.”

Jeff Brooks, design director PRP- backing the Hepworth.
‘For me it would between Stanton William’s Sainsbury’s Lab and Chipperfield’s Hepworth Gallery…too close to call as both exude a calm, controlled restraint and a tenacious pursuit of clarity from diagram to detail. If I had to choose then the Hepworth might have a nose in front.’

Chris Roche of 11.04 Architects - backing the Olympic Stadium
‘As always it is impossible to predict who might win. There are a number of outstanding buildings with differing merits, the judging criteria of the Stirling Prize seems ill defined on past experience, and therefore it will come down to the collective subjectivity of the judging panel, consequently my opinion is of no consequence, however we are lucky to get an Olympic Stadium once in a lifetime, and therefore it is important to acknowledge the important role of architecture in determining the success of the Olympic games, and the future perception of Britain in the eyes of the world.’

Mark Power Architect - backing the Sainsbury Laboratory
The Sainsbury Laboratory should win because the simple beauty and sanity of its environment is entirely in tune with intelligent endeavour of the scientists working there. Let’s see … 

Peter Morris of Peter Morris Architects - backing the Hepworth Wakefield
It is a hard choice again this year. It is sad to see no schools, youth centres or houses on the list. The Sainsbury Lab by Stanton Williams shows amazing control, rigour and sense of proportion. I love the big reading windows and how they have brought natural light into many of the spaces where staff are normally treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark).

I didn’t like the Olympic Stadium at first, but it has grown on me, when I visited during the paraolympics I thought it was modest, elegant and it works. It is an exercises efficiency. The design ethos was a good fit with the euphoric and stoic efforts of Team GB and all the volunteers. 

The Lyric Theatre and New Court are good, but not the best buildings produced by these great Architects. 

The Maggie Centre by OMA is wonderful for the way it incorporates natural light and the landscape, but seems to lack people. It doesn’t seem as homely as the Maggie Centre by Richard Rogers. 

Chipperfield’s office is producing architecture that becomes more and more inventive with every project. I love the way the building takes a Rachel Whiteread like cast of the normally unsightly back garden extensions in Wakefield and turns them into a beautiful, engaging and contextual place to experience the work of Barbra Hepworth. For these reasons I would choose David Chipperfield’s Hepworth Wakefield gallery as this years winner of the Stirling Prize.

David Lomax of Grid Architects - backing the Olympic Stadium
We all love the Hepworth by David Chipperfield, it’s about as jauntily un-Chipperfield like as he’ll ever get but with all the usual crisp, cool detailing - a jaunty little upstart brother to the Turner Contemporary, overtaking its sibling in renown. 

HOWEVER, we think that the Olympic Stadium will win with the tide of good feeling behind it.  We’ll spare a thought for O’D&T’s achievement at the Lyric, a brilliant building but included in the Stirling, again, at just the wrong time.

Elena Tsolakis of Kyriakos Tsolakis Architects - backing the Olympic Stadium
It would be wonderful to celebrate the Olympics achievements with the Olympic Stadium winning as it will help highlight the great work that was done by the many architects who designed buildings for the event.

Of the other projects the ones that stand out for me are the Sainsbury project, and the Hepworth both beautifully executed and will stand the test of time. I particularly enjoy the way the Hepworth project sits within its context and hope it will win.

It is also important to note that the decision in not made until the actual day and it is so hard to predict every year; there are always surprises and a lot of discussion on the night right after the award is announced.

Jerry Tate of Jerry Tate Architects - backing the Sainsbury Laboratory
Our vote would go for the Sainsbury Laboratory, I think for that particular building typology (which is complex and heavily serviced) to produce such an outstanding building is an amazing achievement, and the finishes look immaculate.

Just out of interest we did go to New Court the other day for a meeting and whilst I don’t think it should win the Stirling, we really enjoyed the internal experience. There were no signs and lots of grey panels and obscure glass, you had no idea where you were most of the time. Even the staff all looked a bit confused. I suspect the whole building is some kind of allegory about banking.

Pete Swift, director at Planit-IE - backing the Sainsbury Laboratory
For me there is only one winner, Stanton Williams’ Sainsbury Labs.  They have such a deftness of touch and I think it’s a brilliant response to the site and the function. As for the rest, they are all worthy of being on the list, but for me no where near as special.

Paul Monaghan of AHMM - backing the Olympic Stadium
I really hope the Stadium wins. It was a fitting backdrop to the great events of this Summer and suitably lean and clean icon for these austere years.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • The Lyric Theatre is putting Irish architects and architecture in Belfast at the forefront of architecture in the public eye. In a city that has been somewhat overlooked in the past, the Lyric has given us the attention of an international community and for very good reasons. The building brings together the fabric of Belfast and the essence of the Lyric Theatre production, on a site that sits between the stark contrast of the urban context and the natural environment. O’Donnell and Toumey have proved themselves as world class architects and deserve for their efforts to be recognised.

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