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Brexit snub? No UK projects in shortlist for top European architecture prize

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A top European architecture prize has not shortlisted a single UK project for the first time in a decade 

Only one British architect – Stanton Williams – appears in the 40-strong shortlist, for a gallery scheme in France.

The projects vying for the 2019 EU Mies Award are spread across 17 EU countries and highlight the ‘opportunities and the trends’ of the region, according to organisers.

Countries with shortlisted projects include France (7), Spain (6), Belgium (4), Austria (3), Denmark (3), Germany (2), Ireland (2), Italy (2) the Netherlands (2) Romania (2). With one project each, Albania, Serbia and Slovakia have made the shortlist for the first time.

Nineteen UK projects were longlisted - including projects such as Groupwork and Amin Taha’s 15 Clerkenwell Close and Foster + Partners’ Bloomberg HQ - but in the year the UK is due to exit the EU, it is one of 10 countries left out of the running.

The sole UK representative, London-based practice Stanton Williams, was shortlisted for its transformation of the Musée d’arts in the Brittany city of Nantes, which included contemporary extensions to the original 19th-century building.

Practice director Patrick Richard said the building’s inclusion highlighted the ‘contribution’ that UK architects make within Europe and how important it was that ‘we continue to have the ability to work across the European Union’.

Richard added: ‘It is a privilege to be the only UK practice with a project shortlisted for this prestigious award.’

In 2017, the shortlist included four UK schemes – by Alison Brooks, Assemble, Jaccaud Zein Architects and Peter Barber Architects.

Brooks’s RIBA award-winning Ely Court in Brent made it to the final five, but the top prize was scooped by Dutch practices NL Architects and XVW Architectuur for their restoration of a 1960s apartment block on the edge of Amsterdam.

The 2019 shortlist was chosen by a jury chaired by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup consisting of Frank McDonald, María Langarita, Kamiel Klaasse, Ștefan Ghenciulescu, Angelika Fitz and George Arbid.

Speaking about the shortlist, Mandrup said: ‘The 40 works highlight a new agenda that asks for new ways of thinking. Excellence and skilfulness are inherent in all of them, but this is not enough; it is necessary that they also make an impact and make architects themselves think differently about the profession.’

‘It is very refreshing to see how the architectural debate moves around Europe, changing its centre of discussion from one place to another over the years. This keeps architecture alive.’

The UK had three shortlisted projects in 2015, five in 2013 and two in 2011. The last time it had no projects shortlisted was 2009.

The five finalists will be announced on February 13 and the award ceremony will take place at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona on 7 May.


A spokesperson for The Mies van der Rohe Foundation (18.01.19)

Brexit has had no influence at all in the jury decision. We discovered that there were no UK projects once the meetings were ending and in fact, we are quite sure that many of the jury members are not aware of this at all. It is absolutely surprising, but this does not mean that the quality of British architecture is not upstanding. In fact, it is. It is just the result of three-day conversations and discussions which led the jury to a series of conclusions which in this occasion has not included any UK works.

We hope, whatever the outcome of Brexit, the UK will continue signing the agreement on cultural projects with the EU

We really hope that whatever the outcome of Brexit is, that the UK will continue signing the agreement on cultural projects with the EU like Norway, Iceland, Ukraine… do and that the UK will continue participating in the EU Mies Award.

We are also very thankful for the participation of the RIBA in the Prize Advisory Committee and its support to the Prize. 

UK projects on the longlist

  • 31/44 Architects for Red House, London
  • Assemble for Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London
  • David Chipperfield Architects for Royal Academy of Arts masterplan, London
  • Feilden Fowles for Charlie Bigham’s Food Production Campus, Somerset
  • Foster & Partners for Bloomberg, London
  • Groupwork and Amin Taha for 15 Clerkenwell Close, London
  • Groupwork and Amin Taha for 168 Upper Street, London
  • Henley Halebrown for Chadwick Hall, London
  • Ian Ritchie for the Royal Academy of Music Susie Sainsbury Theatre and Angela Burgess Recital Hall, London
  • McGarry-Moon Architects for Fallahogey Studio, Kilrea
  • MUMA for Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery, Cambridge
  • Niall McLaughlin Architects for the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, Oxford
  • OMMX for Stele House, London
  • Reiach & Hall for Nucleus, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Caithness Archive, Wick
  • Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners for the Leadenhall Building, London
  • Spheron Architects for Belarusian Memorial Chapel, London
  • Studio Octopi and Mark Wallinger for Writ in Water, Runnymede
  • Waugh Thistleton for Bushey Cemetery, Herts
  • Wilkinson Eyre for Gasholders, London

BIG's Lego House in Copenhagen, Denmark

BIG’s Lego House in Copenhagen, Denmark

Source: Iwan Baan

BIG’s Lego House in Copenhagen, Denmark - one of 40 schemes shortlisted for the 2019 EU Mies Award

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