Architecture critic Jay Merrick is not happy about this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist
The shortlist is almost admirable. It generates a dutiful variety of adjectives: grand, civil, strange, contextual, private. There is one shocking omission but I’ll come back to that.
I can’t feel anything for Loyn & Co’s old-school Modernist Outhouse, not least due to the brochure-speak way it’s described: ‘Located on a fabulous sloping plot in the Forest of Dean, running beside Offa’s Dyke, with long views to the Wye Valley and Severn Estuary. The design exploits the site potential to the full with a discrete design that beds into the site literally and metaphorically.’ And do they mean discreet, rather than discrete?
Herzog & de Meuron’s Blavatnik School of Government is a wonderfully accomplished piece of architectural cuisine: slice-and-skew onion chopping, with a collywobbling atrium.
WilkinsonEyre’s Weston Library is an admirable combination of highly crafted reinstatements of historic fabric and spaces, clean-lined modernist insertions and a well-conceived groundplane; the public has benefited greatly. And in a much smaller, but no less crafted way, Caruso St John’s Newport Street Gallery is contextually and materially very adroit – Peter Cook must loathe it.
The two most interesting and superbly composed projects from a civic and ‘daily life’ viewpoint are dRMM’s Trafalgar Place development and Michael Laird and Reiach and Hall’s City of Glasgow College campus. But, really, how is it possible that Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ outstanding Plymouth School of Creative Arts isn’t Stirling-worthy? It is spatially brilliant, the massing is riveting, it cost tuppence to build and it buzzes with dynamically overlapping activities. I am Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.