Architecture People & Places


Stirling Prize Shortlist • London, Wakefield, Belfast, Glasgow, Cambridge

A skylight and bench seat inside the Maggie's Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, designed by OMA, one of the six projects shortlisted for the 2012 Stirling Prize. Photo: Philippe Ruault.
The Royal Institute of British Architects announced a shortlist of six buildings for its 2012 Stirling Prize.

The 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize judges will visit the six shortlisted buildings and meet for a final time on the day of the presentation (13 October) to pick the winner.

The six buildings now competing for this year's title are the Hepworth Wakefile museum, the London Olympic Stadium, the Lyric Theatre, Maggie's Centre in Glasgow, New Court, London, and the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge.

The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire by David Chipperfield Architects

The Hepworth Wakefield art museum, in Wakefield, England, by David Chipperfield Architects. Photo: Hufton+Crow
On arrival at the Hepworth you are drawn across an elegant bridge surrounded by strange river craft and motley industrial buildings. The gallery works beautifully with this varied and gritty context, both suggesting it belongs and at the same time is something rather special. Its scale changes as you approach and enter it, big and dramatic where it needs to be, but welcoming where it doesn't. The carefully cast dusky mauve concrete forms make you want to stroke them as you get closer.

What appears to be a fairly random set of boxes in plan soon reveals its logic inside, with the shop, cafe, education room and offices on the ground floor radiating out from the entrance space. In the first floor galleries the circulation pattern changes subtly from radiating to radial as the promenade takes you through a series of galleries with deep walls concealing the ventilation services.

The galleries are daylight through slit skylights and carefully placed windows which frame views of Hemsley Moor, the Town Hall, the Weir and the Chapel on the Bridge.

The building gives a sense of being made specifically for the work of Hepworth whilst at the same time being very much of Yorkshire, grounded and granite like. An affirming project on every level.

David Chipperfield Architects are the only previous RIBA Stirling Prize winner amongst this year's shortlisted architects, having won in 2007 for the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany. This is the eighth time that David Chipperfield Architects has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, and the third year running; they now match Foster + Partners who have also been shortlisted for the prize eight times.

The Hepworth Wakefield is characterized by a series of 10 small, irregular, trapezoidal blocks that make up the structure of the gallery, giving it a sculptural appearance, in reference to its contents.

From the outside, the gallery is interesting to look at from any angle with the smaller blocks complementing the scale and form of the existing industrial buildings on the site. Inside, the ten blocks create a series of relaxed and intimate exhibition spaces, with great flow and movement between interconnecting rooms.
A gallery of the Hepworth Wakefield. Photo: Iwan Baan 
The building responds imaginatively to its riverside location. Being at the head of the river divide, two sides of gallery are river facing.  The gallery rises straight from the river and the whole building is reflected in the water. Carefully placed windows offer strategic views.

The gallery sources renewable energy in the form of heating and cooling from the river's flow.

The distinctive dusky mauve color of the concrete gives the building a unique identity.

  • Architect: David Chipperfield Architects
  • Client: Wakefield Council
  • Structural Engineer: Ramboll UK
  • Services Engineer: Ramboll UK
  • Contractor: Laing O'Rourke Northern Limited
  • Contract Value: £22.8 million
  • Gross internal area: 5,232  square meters (56,320 square feet)
  • Date of completion: May 2011

  • London Olympic Stadium by Populous

    The Olympic Stadium in London, England, designed by Populous. Photo: Courtesy London 2012.
    Central to the stated vision for 2012 London Games is to create facilities that not only provide world class venues but also form a legacy of sustainable facilities for future use by the City.

    The design of the new Stadium embraces this ambition, creating a world class venue seating 80,000 spectators for the main track and field events and ceremonies, which is then capable of being transformed into a smaller scale venue. The design clearly expresses the main elements of the stadium, distinguishing between the white main structural elements, the black secondary structures and the precast concrete of the seating tiers and plinth to create a striking and legible ensemble. The demountable nature of the structures is expressed through the simple and elegant detailing of its many connections and components.

    The organisation focuses very much around the ease of movement of the large numbers of people who will use the stadium during the Games. Spectators approach and move into the building from an arrival plinth that screens all of the 'back of house' activities below and enables level access around the full perimeter of the stadium. The bowl of the stadium provides for clear sightlines throughout and a surprisingly intimate relationship with the events for a venue of this scale.

    Rendering of a typical structural bay of the Olympic Stadium. Image: Populous
    This is the first time that Populous has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize

    The stadium has been designed so that it can be taken down and reused in another location - or taken apart and made smaller.

    The design team aimed to create the most sustainable Olympic stadium to date, reducing the amount of steel and concrete needed, making it one of the lightest stadia of the modern era.

    It has a sunken arena so the ground level entrance is actually half-way up the stadium - reducing the number of stairs spectators have to climb to the upper tiers.

    The stadium is surrounded by water, so once visitors have shown their ticket and crossed the bridge they are more free to move around than at most stadiums.

    There is a spirit of fun - they have designed a space to create an amazing atmosphere, where every seat has a great view.

  • Architect: Populous
  • Client: Olympic Delivery Authority
  • Structural engineer: Buro Happold
  • Services engineer: Buro Happold
  • Quality surveyor: Arcadis and CLM
  • Landscape architect: Hyland Edgar
  • Acoustics consultants: Vanguardia
  • Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Gross Internal Area: 46,830 square meters (504,100 square feet)
  • Contract Value: Confidential
  • Date of completion: March 2012

  • The Lyric Theatre, Belfast by O'Donnell + Tuomey

    The Lyric Theatre, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed by O'Donnell + Tuomey. Photo: Dennis Gilbert
    On a steeply sloping river frontage within a tightly-knit area of brick terrace houses the new Lyric Theatre is a striking new home for a theatre with a unique status in Belfast - this is Northern Ireland's only repertory theatre. The architects respond to the considerable design challenges of its location with gusto.  This is a public facility in a domestic environment and requires large volumes to accommodate the auditorium, studio and rehearsal room; it meets that challenge admirably. The line of brick terraces seems to flow into the façade, drawing the visitors inside and upward.

    The theatre is modest and self-confident, deferential and assertive.  The entry stairs, the areas for gathering, the tactility of the fittings all lead to the enveloping, dark and dramatic space of the timber-lined, intimate 380 seat auditorium. The quality of the interior spaces, its sensitive response to a challenging site and the expansion of the Lyric's ability to function literally behind the scenes make this a stunning accomplishment and a pleasure to spend time in.  In its acoustics, in the quality of its backstage as well as its front of house facilities the new Lyric has drawn praise from many international performers and given Northern Ireland a national theatre of its own.

    The building culminates in the fourth annex, a 'sky pavilion' lifted above the cubic office volume to create a rooftop loggia and garden. This disengaged volume contains a series of meeting, dining and function rooms offering panoramic views across the City.

    O'Donnell + Tuomey are a Dublin-based practice. This is the fourth time they have been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize and their second year running: last year their An Gaelaras cultural centre in Derry was shortlisted.
    The wood-paneled theater space of the Lyric Theatre. Photo: Dennis Gilbert
    The architects have responded superbly to considerable challenges, including the building's small, awkwardly irregular and steeply sloping site.

    The distinctive red 'Belfast brick' echoes the existing south Belfast residential landscape.

    The architects have created an exceptional auditorium - aiming for the seating to be twisted 'like the crease of a hand' so that people could see each other and to save actors from performing to a symmetrically divided audience. The auditorium has a special, sculptural interior and incredible acoustics.

    The extensive use of glass maximises the presence of natural light in the public spaces and ensures that the magnificent view of the river can be enjoyed to its full potential.

  • Architect: O'Donnell + Tuomey
  • Client: Lyric Theatre
  • Contractor: Glibert Ash
  • Structural Engineer: Horgan Lynch
  • Services Engineer: IN2 Engineering
  • Cost: £18 million
  • Gross internal area: 5,026  square meters (54,100 square feet)
  • Date of completion: May 2011

  • Maggie's Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA

    The Glasgow, Scotland Maggie's Centre cancer care facility was designed by OMA. Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

    Glasgow's new Maggie's Centre, like its sister projects, sets out to provide space where people can feel welcome, at home and cared for; a haven. The architect has sited the building on a slight rise, but cleverly cut it into the slope so that on two sides it looks at banked landscape. It is mostly surrounded by fairly dense tree planting, like a large cabin in the woods.

    The entrance space reveals that the single-storey building is a doughnut with a fully-glazed internal walls overlooking a grassy mound. Simultaneously one is aware of a series of interlocking rectangular spaces that lead away in a jagged circle, giving a sense of permeability and promenade and most-tellingly avoiding that bane of hospital architecture - the corridor.

    At the same time, there are a number of spaces for personal privacy and interaction, discrete counselling rooms or private nooks and corners, some of which have involved local artist/artisan design and fabrication. Generally there is a surprisingly rich variety of materials and skills on display here, with a particularly pleasing flush inlaid timber/concrete ceiling.

    The plan looks haphazard, even chaotic, and there is a medley of different spaces and materials, but this is a masterful composition of highly-efficient spaces.
    This is the second time that OMA has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize and it is the only practice to have two buildings on the 2012 shortlist.  In 2007 OMA's Casa da Musica in Portugal was shortlisted. Rem Koolhaas, who founded OMA, had known Maggie Keswick Jencks (after whom the Maggie's Centres are named) since the 1960s. Lily Jencks, Maggie's daughter, was the landscape designer on the project.
    The Maggie's Center in Glasgow is organized around a courtyard that is separated from interior spaces by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Photo: Philippe Ruault

    The building succeeds in the central aim of all Maggie's Centres - to create an environment of practical and emotional support for people with cancer. They aim to kindle a sense of curiosity and imagination - to be grand in ambition but small in scale.

    The distinctive 'doughnut' shape of the centre allows for all the rooms to surround an internal landscaped garden.

    Located in a natural setting, like a pavilion in the woods (in fact, the old hospital carpark, now landscaped) the building looks both out to the woods and into the garden giving it a sense of being extroverted and introverted.

    There are no corridors or isolated rooms, but a series of interlocking spaces with a clever use of sliding walls to open and close areas, offering flexibility.

  • Architect: OMA
  • Client: Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust
  • Structural engineer: Sinclair Knight Merz
  • Services engineer: KJ Tait engineers
  • Landscape: Lily Jencks with Harrison Stevens
  • Contractor: Dunne
  • Contract value: Confidential
  • Date of completion: October 2011

  • New Court, London by OMA with Allies and Morrison

    Together with Allies and Morrison, OMA also designed the New Court, in London, England. Photo: Courtesy OMA

    This new corporate headquarters, the fourth iteration of the Rothschild's London home since 1809, consolidates the Bank's previously dispersed facilities within one building but also makes a number of important urban moves. It reinstates the historic visual connection between St Swithin's and Christopher Wren's neighbouring Church of St Stephen Walbrook, hidden from public view by the previous New Court developments.

    The new building is organised into a central cube surrounded by three adjoining annexes and a rooftop tower. It is lifted on pilotis above street level to allow views of church and churchyard through a covered entrance square. This sequence of new public realm and vistas gives a quiet public presence to this previously private institution.
    The entry sequence for the New Court. Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

    The attention to detail and combination of materials used throughout the building gives a sense of understated elegance. This is heightened by the considered contrast of carefully displayed original artefacts alongside the quirky use of super-scale graphics drawn from the Rothschild's collection of fine and decorative arts.
    OMA's second building on this year's shortlist. Allies and Morrison has previously been shortlisted twice for the prize.

    Rothschild's Bank have been on the same site since 1809. In replacing their previous 1960s building, the architects created an imaginative solution to a very constrained site (part of the Bank Conservation Area).
    An upper-floor conference room inside the New Court, the new headquarters of Rothchild's Bank. Photo: Hans Werlemann

    The new building opens up views to a Wren church by cleverly creating a pathway towards the church and generous sight lines from the pavement.

    The architects have created a synthesis between an office and a museum. New Court is a showcase for the Rothschild art collection, aspects of which have been carefully incorporated into the design of the building.

    The building has a superb attention to detail; the materials used create a strong sense of understated elegance.

  • Architect: OMA with Allies & Morrison
  • Client: Rothschild
  • Contractor: Lend Lease
  • Structural Engineer: Arup
  • Services Engineer: Arup
  • Fit-out architect: Pringle Brandon
  • Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon
  • Landscape: Charles Funke Associates/Inside Outside
  • Gross Internal Area: 19,125 square meters (205,900 square feet)
  • Contract Value: Confidential
  • Date of Completion: October 2012

  • Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge by Stanton Williams

    Stanton Williams designed the Sainsbury Laboratory, in Cambridge, England, for the University of Cambridge. Photo: Hufton+Crow

    An architectural promenade forms the heart of a building which celebrates botanical research through interaction, communication and a connection with nature.  From the front to the back, the building progresses from a grand, colonnaded facade to an open balcony and glazed public café, set within a Botanic Garden.

    At ground level the entrance gently ramps down through the auditorium and meeting areas. At the upper level the scientists work on illuminated stages, with research and write-up areas forming the ends of two promenades, flanked by small spontaneous brainstorming spaces.

    A skylit laboratory space inside the Sainsbury Laboratory. Photo: Hufton+Crow
    Sustainability through flexibility in long-term use is achieved through an adaptable façade behind the limestone pillar facade, enabling the research spaces to grow and change as required by the scientists.  Despite the high energy demands of laboratories, the building has achieved a BREEAM excellent rating, aided by 1000 square metres of photovoltaic panels and extensive natural lighting even in the laboratories. These top-lit labs are arranged on one floor in an L-shape, encouraging interaction between scientists.

    This building is an exciting new typology, with spaces for research juxtaposed with those for education, the private and the public and the highly-technological nurture of nature with the simple enjoyment of an extended botanic garden.

    This is the first time that Stanton Williams have been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
    A stairwell inside the Sainsbury Laboratory. Photo: Hufton+Crow
    The laboratory is carefully designed to complement its setting -  the relationship to the surrounding 19th century, Grade II listed garden is central to the building's identity.

    It cleverly mixes the private and the public - the security and complex scientific needs of a laboratory with a public botanic garden café.

    The architects have created a stimulating working environment to attract world-class scientists, including sociable spaces and smaller meeting points alongside research spaces.

    It is a highly energy efficient building - rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in two huge tanks which irrigate the garden's glasshouse and plant chambers.

  • Architect: Stanton Williams
  • Client: University of Cambridge
  • Structural Engineer: Adams Kara Taylor
  • Services Engineer: Arup
  • Contractor: Kier Regional
  • Contract Value: £69.0m
  • Gross internal area: 11,000  square meters (120,000 square feet)
  • Date of completion: January 2011

  • Recent winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize include:

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