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Grafton Architects’ Peru campus wins debut RIBA International Prize

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Grafton Architects’ ‘bold yet considerate’ University of Engineering campus (UTEC) in Lima, Peru, has won the first ever RIBA International Prize

The jury, chaired by Richard Rogers, described the scheme as an ‘exceptional example of civil architecture – a building designed with people at its heart’.

The campus beat Zaha Hadid Architects’ Heydar Aliyev Centre, DRDH’s Stormen Concert Hall, the Museo Jumex by David Chipperfield Architects, the Arquipélago Contemporary Arts Centre by Menos é Mais Arquitectos Associados and Philippe Prost’s Ring of Remembrance at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette.

Grafton Architects directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, winners of the 2015 Jane Drew Prize, said: ‘When we looked at the wonderful range of projects throughout the world which were being considered for the RIBA International Prize, we were honoured to be in this group with such esteemed colleagues.

’The educational aspirations of the client together with the unique climatic conditions of Lima gave us the opportunity to “invent” a new vertical campus.’

The RIBA’s new global award replaced the institute’s Lubetkin prize - which was formerly only open to RIBA chartered architects and international fellows, with its shortlist drawn from each year’s set of RIBA International Award winners. 

In its first year the award was open to any building completed in the last three years, but from 2017 this will be changed to only take into account buildings completed within two years of the deadline.


Judges’ citation

UTEC is an exceptional example of civil architecture - a building designed with people at its heart. Grafton Architects has created a new way to think about a university campus, with a distinctive ‘vertical campus’ structure responding to the temperate climatic conditions and referencing Peru’s terrain and heritage.

Sitting on the border of two residential districts in Lima, in section UTEC perches tantalizingly on the edge of a ravine. Seen from across the ravine it is as bold and as pure a statement of the symbiosis between architecture and engineering as could be imagined; a piece of geology imposed on its pivotal site, mirroring the organic curve of the landscape and accommodating itself in the city. To its close neighbours, it is a series of landscaped terraces with clefts, overhangs and grottos, a modern day MachuPicchu.

UTEC has been designed to encourage its students to interact in a unique way with the building. The vertical structure provides open circulation and meeting spaces in a succession of platforms that compose the ‘frame’ of the building; teaching rooms, laboratories and offices are enclosed, inserted into and suspended from the exposed concrete structure. The frame is a device providing shade, a place of rich spatial exuberance and a platform from which to view the life of the city. The entire life of this vertical campus is on full display to the people of Lima.

[The campus] is the culmination of years of experimentation by Grafton Architects. In this building they show the mastery of their craft, gifting Lima with a bold yet considerate contribution to the city and a visionary, world-class building.

University Campus UTEC Lima, Lima, Peru

University Campus UTEC Lima, Lima, Peru

University Campus UTEC Lima, Lima, Peru

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