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RIBA Stirling Prize odds reverse as big money goes on social housing scheme

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Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley’s Goldsmith Street social housing scheme in Norwich has become the 5/2 bookies’ joint favourite to win the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize 

Bookmaker William Hill had originally offered odds of 11/1 on the residential development for Norwich City Council winning the prestigious award when the shortlist for the prize was unveiled last month, making it the rank outsider.

However the price plummeted after almost two thirds (65 per cent) of all the bets wagered went on the project to take the prize. The bookmaker told the AJ it stands to lose around £5,000 if Goldsmith Street wins.

Mikhail Riches’ much-lauded scheme is also in the running for the inaugural Neave Brown housing award, the winner of which will be named at the RIBA Stirling Prize ceremony (Tuesday 8 October) held at the Roundhouse in Camden, London.

The housing scheme has now been given the same chance of a Stirling Prize victory as Grimshaw’s huge London Bridge Station scheme, which William Hill had also initially regarded as one of the outsiders for this year’s award.

The bookmaker originally offered tempting, but long, odds of 10/1 on a win for the £1 billion infrastructure project.

Yet within hours of the announcement, its odds were slashed to 4/1. In the last few weeks the price has fallen further still, as bets of up to £75 were placed on the scheme, which has already picked up the AJ100 Building of the Year award and is being backed by the AJ’s architecture editor (see below).

The bookies’ early favourite, Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in Craigellachie, Scotland, has now slipped to 4/1 with Feilden Fowles’ ‘fine, but no fire-starter’ visitor centre at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park now the overall outsider at 8/1.

The AJ is the professional media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Goldsmith Street 5593 Tim Crocker

Heavily backed - Goldsmith Street, Norwich by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley William Hill’s odds: 7/2

Heavily backed - Goldsmith Street, Norwich by Mikhail Riches with Cathy HawleyWilliam Hill’s odds: 7/2

William Hill’s Stirling Prize odds at 22 August July 2019

  • Goldsmith Street 5/2
  • London Bridge Station 5/2
  • Nevill Holt Opera 7/2
  • The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience 4/1
  • Cork House 5/1
  • The Weston, Yorkshire Sculpture Park 8/1

William Hill’s Stirling Prize odds at 18 July 2019

  • The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience 7/4
  • Cork House 5/2
  • Nevill Holt Opera 7/2
  • The Weston, Yorkshire Sculpture Park 13/2
  • London Bridge Station 10/1
  • Goldsmith Street 11/1

London Bridge Station 3 Paul Raftery

London Bridge Station by Grimshaw - the AJ’s architecture editor Rob Wilson’s favourite for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize.William Hill’s latest odds - 5/

Source: Paul Raftery

London Bridge Station by Grimshaw - the AJ’s architecture editor Rob Wilson’s favourite for the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize.William Hill’s latest odds - 5/2

RIBA 2019 Stirling Prize shortlist reaction by AJ’s architecture editor Robert Wilson

It’s a funny old shortlist this year, not buzzing with excitement exactly, but composed of some fine, some worthy and some slightly unmemorable buildings.

It feels like a deliberately conscientious attempt to spread the love around, divvying up the shortlisting across region, building size, use, and structural type, with a bit of a curve here, a touch of orthogonal precision there. And, of course, ensuring a high retrofit and green count both materially and operationally – avoiding anything too glassy and neoliberal following the reaction to the Bloomberg win last year. 

Grimshaw’s retrofit of London Bridge station had to be there. It’s an exceptionally intelligent rework of a labyrinthine transport interchange (plus it’s public infrastructure, affecting millions of people: tick).

It’s good to see Mikhail Riches’ quality Goldsmith Street scheme included – a holistic attempt to make both decent housing and a decent neighbourhood (social housing: tick).

And there’s the finely wrought insertion that is the Nevill Holt Opera, although it seems unlikely that a Witherford Watson Mann-authored repurposing of a heritage building could win the Stirling for a second time.

Cork House by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton is exceptional in its material use, and clearly trumps all-comers on sustainability. But it feels slightly too bespoke, more a research project. Architecturally, too, it’s a bit quirky; the roofs (beehives-cum-Mausoleum of Halicarnassus) look a bit unhappy – but these may charm the jury.

Why did this RSHP project make the cut this year, when previously a project like the Cheesegrater didn’t?

Very fine, but not a fire-starter, is Feilden Fowles’ immaculate Weston visitor centre. But its very success at squatting down in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park might count against it, making feel less like a Stirling Prize big-hitter.

The inclusion of the Macallan Distillery on the shortlist is, frankly, a surprise. Like the Weston, it’s another project nestled, if less convincingly, in the landscape. It’s impressive, but slightly fey and old-school High-Tech in feeling. Why did this RSHP project make the cut this year, when previously the Cheesegrater didn’t?

Ultimately, it’s as random as ever. As for a prediction, one senses it could be London Bridge crowned with the laurels – a scheme that’s already picked up the AJ100 Building of the Year Award. 

 

 

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