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AJ readers pick RIBA Stirling Prize 2018 favourite

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Storey’s Field Community Centre and Eddington Nursery by MUMA for the University of Cambridge has been backed by the AJ readers to win this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize

In the AJ’s online poll, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the nearly 500 voters plumped for the scheme, which is also William Hill’s current favourite at 10/3.

Narrowly behind, with 25 per cent of the votes cast, was Waugh Thistleton’s Bushey Cemetery in Hertfordshire.

And making good ground on the rails is dark horse Níall McLaughlin, whose elegant Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre for Worcester College, Oxford, polled just over a fifth of the votes cast.

Stirlnig aj reader vote

Stirling aj reader vote

But readers shunned the new Bloomberg headquarters designed by Foster + Partners – the only one of the shortlisted practices to have won the prize before, in 1998 with the Imperial War Museum Duxford; and in 2004 with the Gherkin. The project only received 7 per cent of the vote.

Chadwick Hall, University of Roehampton, London, by Henley Halebrown and the New Tate St Ives, by Jamie Fobert Architects with Evans & Shalev were also ranked as outsiders by the AJ readership.

The winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on Wednesday 10 October 2018 at the Roundhouse in Camden, London.

The Architects’ Journal is the professional media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Stirling collage

Stirling collage

Shortlist in full (with odds by William Hill)

10/3 Storey’s Field Community Centre and Nursery, Cambridge by MUMA
7/2 Bloomberg, London by Foster + Partners
4/1 Bushey Cemetery, Hertfordshire by Waugh Thistleton Architects
4/1 New Tate St Ives, by Jamie Fobert Architects with Evans & Shalev
9/2 The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, Oxford by Níall McLaughlin Architects
11/2 Chadwick Hall, University of Roehampton, London by Henley Halebrown

RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist analysis by AJ’s architecture editor Rob Wilson

It’s a strong, if slightly astringent, list of projects on the shortlist this year. There’s the usual culture and money mix, with a lack of housing and health, reflecting the RIBA Regional Awards, as does the geographical distribution – all Oxford, Cambridge and points south.

Jamie Fobert’s Tate St Ives is worthily here: for once a cultural building not as statement outside and neutrality in, but one infused with, and more than literally embedded in, the light and site of its locale.

Foster’s Bloomberg looms inevitably on the list: but it is a significant building and interesting take on the workplace. Its sheer muscularity no doubt will be seen as signature ‘late Foster’. The inclusion of these two projects underlines some significant omissions: AL_A’s V&A and Rogers’ Leadenhall: another sunken gallery and another big-beast City building. It’s perhaps a sign of the times that it’s the more expressive, hotly coloured examples that didn’t make the cut.

It would also have been good to have seen Amin Taha’s Clerkenwell Close here (perhaps not politic to have a housing scheme by him two years running?). But the more general and continuing lack of housing certainly raises a question about what the prize is designed to recognise. Is housing that makes the background warp and weft of a city not fit for a beauty parade?

What is refreshing is the strong community showing from MUMA’s Storey’s Field Community Centre and Eddington Nursery and Waugh Thistleton’s monument-like Bushey Cemetery, both beautifully tuned to their functions.

The renaissance in higher education is well reflected: Níall Mclaughlin’s very fine Nazrin Shah: a poised, sinuous, garden pavilion outside, flexible practical study spaces within.

More surprising, though, is the inclusion of Henley Halebrown’s Chadwick Hall, the finely wrought architecture of its façades not completely followed through to the interiors.

And the winner? I’d vote for the MUMA building, crafted to its use, that makes poetics out of the pragmatics of passive ventilation, and a landmark without show.

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