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'Peter Cook won't be impressed – this list shouts "biscuit boy" architecture'

Drawing Studio by CRAB
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AJ architecture editor Laura Mark on the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist

This year’s Stirling Prize list is safe. There is nothing that is going to upset anyone on there and it’s unlikely we’ll see protesters gathering outside Portland Place like last year when Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ NEO Bankside made the list.

But it’s also just a bit dull. It’s somewhat understandable – this year’s list of 46 RIBA Award winners was not the most inspirational and there was a noticeable lack of standout projects. So what we have been left with is a predictable list of favourites – Swiss stars Herzog & de Meuron, alongside two-times past winners Wilkinson Eyre and brick lovers Caruso St John.

Peter Cook won’t be impressed – this list shouts ‘biscuit boy’ architecture. And it’s a shame to not see his Drawing Studio at Arts University Bournemouth make it onto the list. That would at least have been a departure from the bland into something eye-catching and colourful. I’m also surprised not to see Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ Stanbrook Abbey among the finalists or Zaha Hadid’s last UK project – her shiny, curvaceous building for St Antony’s College, Oxford.

And which do I think will be victorious? For me it has to be Loyn & Co’s Outhouse. If it wins it will be the first time a private house has picked up the award – and there is a chance that it could. The Modernist home had me with its beautiful carved out concrete spaces but when I saw its artist owners scooting around the place, I was completely sold.

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