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RIBA Stirling Prize 2017 shortlist revealed


Bookmaker William Hill has already made Groupwork + Amin Taha’s ‘extraordinary’ brick and wicker-balconied apartment scheme in east London its favourite to win this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize

The Barrett’s Grove scheme is one of six ‘exceptionally creative, beautifully considered and carefully detailed buildings’ vying to be named the UK’s best new building of 2017.

Shortlist in full (with odds)

3/1 Barrett’s Grove, Stoke Newington by Groupwork + Amin Taha
7/2 City of Glasgow College – City Campus by Reiach and Hall with Michael Laird Architects
7/2 Hastings Pier by dRMM
4/1 Photography Studio for Juergen Teller by 6a architects
6/1 Command of the Oceans by Baynes and Mitchell Architects
6/1 The British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Of the shortlisted practices only Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has previously won the nation’s highest architectural accolade.

However, dRMM has been nominated twice before (Clapham Manor School in 2010 and Trafalgar Place in 2016) while Reiach and Hall with Michael Laird were among the finalists for last year’s prize with City of Glasgow College, Riverside Campus, a sister project to this year’s City Campus. Reiach and Hall was also shortlisted in 2015 for its Maggie’s Centre in Lanarkshire.

Groupwork + Amin Taha, 6a architects and Baynes and Mitchell Architects are shortlisted for the first time.

Among the biggest surprises are the omissions of Foster + Partners’ Maggie’s Centre in Manchester, Marks Barfield’s i360 in Brighton and Herzog & de Meuron’s Tate Modern extension in London.

RIBA president Jane Duncan praised each of the shortlisted schemes for having ‘made every single penny count’.

She said: ‘Commissioned at the end of the recession, they are an accolade to a creative profession at the top of its game. Each of these outstanding projects has transformed their local area and delights those who are lucky enough to visit, live, study or work in them.’

Duncan added: ’Half of the shortlisted buildings are visitor destinations. The World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre is an extremely skilful, partially underground extension for the display, conservation and storage of the British Museum’s incredible collections. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have overcome incredibly complex planning constraints to create a building that enhances the area and this much-loved institution. Command of the Oceans brings a bold and accessible new visitor experience to Chatham Historic Dockyard. A striking, black visitor entrance, exciting approach to conservation, and inventive raised route around the complex have given the dockyard a dramatic new lease of life.’

She went on: ’Hastings Pier has been driven by the passionate local community in response to the fire that destroyed their Victorian pier in 2010. This versatile and beautiful contemporary pier and visitor centre sits upon the repaired Victorian iron work of the original pier, and is kick-starting the town’s renaissance.

Half the shortlist are visitor destinations, the other half are intelligent responses to challenging urban sites

’The other half of the shortlist share a common quality: intelligent responses to challenging urban sites. Through careful use of a tactile palette of materials including brick, timber and wicker, Barrett’s Grove has injected an extraordinary small development of delightful, warm homes into an otherwise ordinary street in north London. The City of Glasgow College’s new City Campus is an immensely confident contribution to the architecture of the city, and is testament to Scotland’s commitment to invest in high-quality further education. Unique elements like street-front ”shops” for the college’s trainee hairdressers and chefs to earn and learn add to the comprehensive facilities that raise the bar for higher education buildings.’

Duncan concluded: ‘Despite its constrained and semi-industrial plot in west London, the Photography Studio for Juergen Teller is an oasis in which the architects and landscape designer Dan Pearson have created a seemingly modest yet sublime light-filled studio and garden. Every single detail created by this exceptionally talented architect is precise and highly considered.

‘This year’s shortlist typifies everything that is special about UK architecture: this is not just a collection of exceptionally well-designed buildings but spaces and places of pure beauty, surprise and delight.’

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 31 October at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London. 

Which building do you think deserves to win the Stirling Prize? Vote in our poll at the bottom of this story

RIBA Stirling Prize 2017 shortlist

RIBA Stirling Prize 2017 shortlist

RIBA Stirling Prize 2017 shortlist

Judges’ citations

Barrett’s Grove, Stoke Newington, London N16 by Groupwork + Amin Taha

Client Nick Grant

Barrett’s Grove is a characterful building in a disjointed urban street. Its adjacency to a primary school is a fitting location for a house built with the fairy-tale materials of brick, wood and straw. Inside, the building holds a series of generously proportioned, well-lit apartments; each with a wicker basket balcony that sticks out proud and far, like a salute to passers-by.

The staggered hit-and-miss brick skin of the façade makes a larger-than-usual pattern, which fits the tallness of the overall building. Wrapping the skin up and over the roof, emphasises the simplicity of the building’s form.

Inside, the feeling is of a large house split into many homes; a refreshing change from the cheap finishes and convoluted corridors of many apartment blocks.

The apartments are double aspect and each room is a good proportion. Space is used wisely and left over space is exploited, for example a strip of workspace overlooks the living room in the top maisonette making a small strip of space a delight to inhabit.

Contractor Ecore Construction
Structural engineer Webb Yates Engineers
M&E engineer Syntegra
Quantity surveyor Amin Taha Architects
Fire engineering Optimise
Internal area 635m²

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Barrett’s Grove, Stoke Newington, London N16 by Groupwork + Amin Taha

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Barrett’s Grove, Stoke Newington, London N16 by Groupwork + Amin Taha

Source: Tim Soar

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Barrett’s Grove, Stoke Newington, London N16 by Groupwork + Amin Taha

The British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre (WCEC), London WC1 by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Client The British Museum

The WCEC building is located on the north-west corner of the British Museum site in Bloomsbury. It consists of five vertically linked pavilions (one of which is located entirely underground), and houses a new exhibition gallery, laboratories and conservation studios, storage, and facilities to support the Museum’ logistical requirements and loans programme.

This building is the realisation of an extremely complicated brief in terms of spatial challenges, technical requirements, and engineering technologies. Its achievement derives from the elegant and simple way these challenges are met, while maintaining a clear and coherent diagram and a refined and rational building enclosure.

The spaces provided for exhibition allow objects of a size and height which would not be possible to exhibit elsewhere in the museum. Objects can be delivered at street level in lorries which are then taken to lower floors by a platform lift that sinks into the ground without disturbing the landscape.

This building is the realisation of an extremely complicated brief

The jury felt that the substantial accommodation for curation activities, with demanding constraints on direct light, thermal control and pest prevention, are seamlessly threaded into the overriding diagram and structure, with an admirable rigour and clarity.

Grander public spaces are accommodated in the main museum, while the new extension provides simple circulation through glass lifts, bridges and glazed lobbies, making the journey through the building clean and enjoyable.

A system of fritted glazed horizontal panels allows controlled light into the building while ensuring protection for the exhibits either on display or within the workshops. This allows curation of precious artefacts to occur in an environment that maintains access to natural light.

The jury appreciated the way the architects had overcome planning and heritage concerns in relation to the building for new offices which are sunk below ground but grouped around an attractive glass-roofed central space.

Generally the jury admired the skill and control the architects had demonstrated in realising the client’s enormously complicated and demanding brief while maintaining a rigorous and disciplined plan and an elegant external cladding system.

Structural engineer Ramboll
M&E engineer Arup
Quantity surveyor AECOM
Project management Equals
Acoustic engineer Arup
Access consultant David Bonnett Association
Landscape architect Gillespies
Lighting design Arup
Planning advisors The Green Brain Consultancy and Montagu Evans
Construction manager Mace
Internal area 18,000m²

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: The British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: The British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Source: Paul Raftery

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: The British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Command of the Oceans, Chatham, Kent by Baynes and Mitchell Architects

Client Chatham Historic Dockyard

This project is a champion for progressive conservation, inventive reuse and adaptation of existing fabric. The importance of the historic fabric has been clearly understood, which has allowed freedom in other areas to change the circulation and the reading of the buildings to give the whole complex of buildings a new lease of life.

The striking new visitor entrance, clad in black zinc, knits together the historic fabric to either side. The decision to use black cladding rather than a white structure which would match existing, and the decision not to mimic the pitch of the existing roofs, was a bold move in conservation terms and very successful. The modest entrance is immediately obvious to the visitor on arrival in the large car park, which sits above the old mast pond; and yet in certain lights it seems to disappear and becomes very much subservient to the adjacent listed structures. This inventive solution to create a raised entrance with associated ramp won Baynes and Mitchell the architectural competition, and unlocks the whole plan.

This project is a champion for progressive conservation

The cathedral-like quality of the entrance hall, with its focus on the end view over the dockyard, is very successful. The museum element of the scheme which tells the history of the dockyard is designed around a route which ultimately leads to the hidden timbers of the unknown ship beneath the floorboards. This sense of discovery and the decision to leave the timbers in situ is a very powerful move.

The project is academically rigorous in terms of repairs, reversibility and selection of new materials and is a delightful new addition to the historic dockyard. The project exhibits careful and critical use of appropriate repairs. Successful engagement with specialist craftsmen and sensitive repairs, such as the scarfing of the main timbers in the mast house, adds to the beauty of the refurbished spaces.

Internally, the existing buildings were assessed in terms of their significance and this informed the hierarchy and extent of the new interventions. Baynes and Mitchell have also fully engaged with the impact of the proposals in terms of the archaeology of the site and an appropriate means of responding to the concept of ‘as found’ presentation.

The palette of black metal, blue limestone, board-marked concrete and composite timber has been carefully chosen in response to the strong, industrial language of the historic buildings and landscape.

This project has benefited greatly from an enlightened client who is committed to making the story of the dockyard accessible to the visitor. This deep understanding of the historical significance of this group of buildings has been fully understood by the architect and interpreted in a way to reveal significant features of the historic landscape. This is a Heritage Lottery Funded project and Historic England was closely involved in a very collaborative way.

Contractors Raymond Brown Construction, Fairhurst Ward Abbotts and WW Martin
Project management Artelia UK
Quantity surveyor Robert Dolllin & Co
M&E engineer Skelly & Couch
Experiential designer Land Design Studio
Structural & civil engineer Price & Myers
Lighting design Studio ZNA
Conservation consultant Ptolemy Dean Architect
Access consultant Ann Sawyer Access Design
Archaeologist Wessex Archaeology
Internal area 2,750m²

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Command of the Oceans by Baynes and Mitchell Architects

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Command of the Oceans by Baynes and Mitchell Architects

Source: Hélène binet

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Command of the Oceans by Baynes and Mitchell Architects

City of Glasgow College – City Campus by Reiach & Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects

Client City of Glasgow College

The merger of Glasgow’s central, metropolitan and nautical colleges created a super college bringing together facilities and teaching previously housed in 11 separate buildings across the city within two new central campuses. City Campus, more than 60,000m² in size, is the second of these large new buildings. It brings together six major faculties in 300 high-tech classrooms, multi-purpose lecture theatres and specialist teaching facilities.

There is an astonishing scale and complexity to the brief for this project

While the initial impression of this building is as something of immense scale which also signals its presence as an important place of learning, its internal spaces are designed to encourage both the formal teaching processes which it contains and informal, more chance encounters. The materials palette and form of the building are deliberately restrained to generate something of skill, clarity and elegance, on the grandest scale.

There is an astonishing scale and complexity to the brief for this project and considerable architectural skill is demonstrated in its realisation; not just in resolving the brief, but in the contribution to the city – in massing, composition and the generosity of the public route through the grand stepped atrium space. This architectural skill extends beyond the cityscape through to the detailed care taken in the organisation of student spaces, encouraging social interaction across disciplines, to the considered approach to materials and detailing.

Contractor Sir Robert McAlpine
Structural engineer Arup
Landscape architect Rankinfraser Landscape Architecture
Quality surveyor Sir Robert McAlpine / Sweet Group
M&E engineer FES with Hulley and Kirkwood
Acoustic consultant Arup Acoustics
Fire engineer Jeremy Gardner Associates
Interiors graven signage Studio LR

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017City of Glasgow College - City Campus by Reiach and Hall with Michael Laird Architects

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017City of Glasgow College - City Campus by Reiach and Hall with Michael Laird Architects

Source: Keith Hunter

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017City of Glasgow College - City Campus by Reiach and Hall with Michael Laird Architects

Hastings Pier, East Sussex by dRMM Architects

Client Hastings Pier Charity

It has taken a seven-year heroic collaboration to turn a smouldering pier in disrepair and decline into a vibrant public space with a palpable sense of ownership. This collaboration has been between the community, the Council, the engineers and the architect and it is the architect’s vision which has been vital throughout to steer the process. After extensive stakeholder consultation, it was clear to dRMM that the pier would be expected to host many different populist scenarios.

Predictably enough, it transpired that it had to be everything to everybody, with an absent owner not responding to the increasingly Dangerous Structure repair requirements, and no rebuild budget available in a run-down seaside town. Lateral thinking was required to make a structurally and socially sustainable project actually happen. The architects had to write the brief and help raise the budget before redesigning the pier.

Their ‘master-move’ and response to this brief was to design a strong, community led/owned serviced platform which could accommodate a whole host of uses, from music concerts to international markets. ‘In homage to conceptualist Cedric Price, users bring their own architecture to plug in and play.’ This concept is really working in practice and should be commended.

The decision not to place any building at the end of the pier, which is possibly the obvious position to site a building, is an extremely powerful move. The large open space provides a sense of calmness and delight, with a strong connection to the sea and the seafront. The experience of free space and ‘walking on water’ is heightened by the optics of a very beautiful, louvred balustrade design and quality timber deck.

The new visitor centre replacing the weakest section of the damaged pier is a relatively simple CLT structure clad in reclaimed timber which was salvaged from the original fire-damaged pier. This helps to create a strong feeling of place and belonging. It boasts an elevated, rooftop belvedere where locals go for a coffee or cup of soup. It offers adaptable space for events, exhibitions and education. Reclaimed timber deck furniture was designed by dRMM and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling as part of a local employment initiative.

The new pier is not a lonely pier

The new pier is not a lonely pier: rather, it is extremely welcoming in its design, with free, open entry to the public. It offers flexibility, material and functional sustainability, and an uninterrupted vista of the natural and built surroundings. This is a Heritage Lottery Funded project and it has become a catalyst for urban regeneration.

From a conservation perspective, this project has reinvigorated a fire-damaged historic structure and facilitated a contemporary and appropriate new 21st-century use. The project has been mindful to integrate material from the original pier in the new design, and the process of restoration was used to help train a new generation of craft specialists.

Contractor Hastings Pier Charity
Structural engineer Ramboll UK
Environmental / M&E engineer Ramboll UK
Quantity surveyor / cost consultant PT Projects
Marine engineer Ramboll UK
Internal area 11,720m²

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Hastings Pier by dRMM

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Hastings Pier by dRMM

Source: Alex de Rijke

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Hastings Pier by dRMM

Photography Studio for Juergen Teller, Ladbroke Grove, W10 by 6a architects

Client Juergen Teller

The project comprises a series of three buildings and gardens to form a new studio, offices and archive for celebrated photographer Juergen Teller. The brief was for a light-filled, flexible, informal and welcoming set of spaces; with a natural flow and sociability.

The project expertly exploits a typically London condition. Constrained by a long and narrow industrial plot at the rougher edge of Ladbroke Grove; its only face nestles between cheap developer housing, an industrial estate and the hinterland of the Westway.

With few views possible out of the linear site, daylight is introduced through three courtyard gardens designed by Dan Pearson, and a grid of exquisitely thin concrete beams which march the length of the 60m site. These support north facing roof lights which fill the space with an extraordinary filtered light.

Board-marked poured concrete registers the rhythm of the existing brick built party walls. Two raked concrete stairs brace the studio space, the only interruptions in an open landscape, which runs the length of the site.

The project is a mature and confident statement of orderliness and precision

Detailing throughout is exquisite; from the in-situ concrete of the finely formed stairs, to the seamless brass balustrades. Large but delicately beaded timber window frames, add refinement to an otherwise minimal material palette. The building is an exemplar of fabric first and low energy design. The integration of services is expertly handled.

The project is a mature and confident statement of orderliness and precision, whilst also being relaxed and playful. It forms a refined, yet flexible workplace, which is already beginning to act as a setting to prompt and influence on the work of its client.

The building is sublime and the whole team should be highly commended.

Contractor Harris Calnan
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E engineer Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor Gleeds Cost Management
Landscape architect Dan Pearson Studio
Project management AECOM
Internal area 505m²

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Photography Studio for Juergen Teller by 6a architects

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Photography Studio for Juergen Teller by 6a architects

Source: Johan Dehlin

RIBA Stirling Prize Finalist 2017: Photography Studio for Juergen Teller by 6a architects 


Readers' comments (4)

  • Not a single woman in Groupwork + Amin Taha's Office. Apart from the office manager. A bit shocking in this day and age.

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  • chris Dyson

    A great shortlist this year and a refreshing surprise that smaller schemes are being considered.

    Excellent Architecture serving the public good; with half the shortlist as visitor destinations, and the others being smart responses to challenging urban sites.

    Identity and Humanity in British architecture is really coming to the fore in this selection congratulations to all those shortlisted and those on the national list ....no mean feat!

    This talent deserves to be employed everywhere, all over the UK and the World.

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  • Dear Emma, we are a small office who wax and wane in staff numbers, currently, Elisa and a part-time year out student are women and if it illustrates the current size of our practice that's around 30%. Other times, women have been the majority, indeed white English born males the minority. Currently, we're 50/50 UK born and non-UK born with Amin and Elisa the only ethnic minority representation unless you include Dominic, a Lithuanian who represents the Baltic post-Soviet spectrum of identities. One day if we ever grow beyond micro such percentages maybe able to be controlled, at our scale the change of one staff member skews such statistics wildly and that can be read in multiple ways. I hope that helps answer your question. Kind Regards, all at GROUPWORK.

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  • It's that time of the years again, when the Royal Institute of British Architects flexes its flabby muscles, and with the world's eyes upon it (well, the architectural world, that is), nominates 'the building in the UK which has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year'. So let's kick off the ASH review of the six buildings nominated for this year's Stirling Prize.

    The Spruce Apartments comprise 6 new flats located at 42 Barretts Grove in what the estate agents call 'newly gentrified' Stoke Newington. In fact it's much closer to Dalston, so you can use the former address for your bank manager and the latter for your date. Part of the colonisation of the area as London's Hipster Central (though it's already looking like desperately untrendy Shoreditch), the apartments have all sold - most likely off-plan before they were built - except for the one on the ground floor, where you'll have to put up with drunk yuppies urinating on your wicket-basket balcony. Flat 6, presumably at the top (and therefore away from the micturaters) sold for £865,000 in January 2017. But let's be generous and look at 2-bedroom flat 4 and the figures you won't find in any architecture magazine (including this one):

    Sale price: £685,000
    Rental value: £2,150 pcm
    Mortgage repayment: £1,818 pcm on a £500,000 loan
    Council tax: £162 pcm
    Estimated energy costs: £99 pcm
    Water charges: £26 pcm

    So, if you've got £185,000 lying around for a deposit, this lovely 2-bedroom apartment can be yours for just £2,105 per calendar month (not including broadband), which just happens to be exactly what Zoopla reckons you'll get from renting it out to a young 'professional' couple (i.e. account executives) too broke to break up. Welcome to our new home-owning democracy.

    What a contribution to the evolution of architecture! No wonder they're the bookies' favourites.

    Simon Elmer
    Architects for Social Housing

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