Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

‘The shortlist is relentlessly predictable… it fails to provoke or question’

FAT and Grayson Perry's House for Essex
  • Comment

Architecture critic Edwin Heathcote on the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist

One Oxford college (school for rich kids who will rule the world), one industrial re-use (doubles also as the obligatory Caruso St John listing), one mid-century house (slight Brazilian influence), one nicely detailed corporate campus (doubles as a Scottish entry), one addition to a venerable old building, one good social housing scheme on a controversial development: I think that covers all the bases. No?

The shortlist for this year’s Stirling Prize is relentlessly predictable, right on formula. That isn’t to say that it’s bad – quite the contrary – but it rewards the kind of slightly retro, good-taste modernism which, no matter how well detailed and impeccably mannered, fails to provoke or question.

I know, I know it’s fearsomely difficult just to make good architecture but where is the eccentric, the visionary, the social activist or the lone mad genius? There was some controversy about FAT and Grayson Perry’s A House for Essex missing out but it would have been good to have something to argue about here. Perhaps something a little tasteless or politically provocative. Or something classical, or brutal or colourful – just to stir it up a bit.

This has been a difficult year. This competition represents a chance to discover something new, discuss why we’re interested in architecture at all, give a spark of post-Brexit joy. It would be fine if almost any of these win, they’re all good – but it won’t change the world. And it doesn’t even try.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

AJ Jobs