Best of British: Liverpool's Everyman Theatre wins RIBA's Stirling Prize

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Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, by Haworth Tompkins was the surprise Stirling Prize winner at this year's RIBA Awards (Photo: Philip Vile)

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Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, by Haworth Tompkins, has won the Royal British Institute of Architecture (RIBA) Stirling Prize. Other notable winners announced during the awards show last night include the Manser Medal for best new British home, and the Stephen Lawrence Prize for outstanding architecture on a relatively low budget.

Stirling Prize: Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, by Haworth Tompkins

Well, we certainly didn't see this coming. Haworth Tompkins beat strong competition in a shortlist that included high-profile efforts from Zaha Hadid and Renzo Piano, to grab what's probably the most prestigious prize in British architecture.

Located in Hope Street, Liverpool, the Everyman Theatre was once a 19th Century chapel and then became a theater from 1964 onwards. However, it was in need of repair for much of its later life and was duly closed for redevelopment by Haworth Tompkins in 2011. The project required more than a lick of paint and a few new light fittings, but rather a complete rebuild of the theater into a modern building that Liverpool can be proud of.

The muscular design of the Everyman Theatre is unashamedly populist, and local red brick was selected for the walls and ventilation chimneys, while the primary facade sports a notable set of operable aluminum sun shades. The 105 sun shades feature the resemblance of a like number of residents, who volunteered to have their features immortalized using water etching technology.

The reconstruction of the Everyman Theatre took over three years and made use of an impressive 90 percent of the existing building material taken from the former building. The new theater building has been awarded the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) certification for sustainability and is naturally cooled throughout most of the year.

Within the 400 seat auditorium, cool air from outside is channeled inside without the need for any mechanical assistance. The building's four distinctive large ventilation chimneys work in unison with hidden concrete channels to cool theatergoers, but when the weather proves exceptionally warm or cold, an air-source heat pump is also on hand to efficiently cool or heat the incoming air. The building additionally sports rainwater harvesting which lowers toilet flushing needs, and low-energy LED lighting where appropriate.

"The new Everyman in Liverpool is truly for every man, woman and child," said RIBA's judges. "It cleverly resolves so many of the issues architects face every day. Its context – the handsome street that links the two cathedrals – is brilliantly complemented by the building’s scale, transparency, materials and quirky sense of humor, notably where the solar shading is transformed into a parade of Liverpudlians."

Manser Medal: Stormy Castle, Loyn & Co. Architects

Welsh firm Loyn & Co. Architects won the Manser Medal, which is awarded for the best new British home, with Stormy Castle. As we mentioned in our previous coverage of the Manser Medal longlist, the home is Based in the Gower peninsula, within one of Wales' five officially-designated areas of outstanding beauty, and it rests close to the remains of an ancient Celtic hill fort. The house features sustainable technology such as photovoltaic solar panels, ground source heat pump, and rainwater harvesting.

"The aim of the Manser Medal has always been to influence the public to demand, and the mass house builders to supply, better designed homes" said RIBA Manser Medal Chair Michael Manser CBE. "I believe by highlighting brave architecture like this year’s winner Stormy Castle we can showcase what can be achieved."

Stephen Lawrence Prize: House No 7, by Denizen Works

The stunning House No 7, by Denizen Works, won the Stephen Lawrence Prize, which showcases British architecture on a budget. Situated on Scotland's Isle of Tiree, the project involved the extensive renovation of a traditional stone cottage, and the addition of two large extensions.

"The rebuilt cottage and new living spaces cleverly wrap to create an intimate daylight space at its core," said Stephen Lawrence Prize founder, Marco Goldschmied. "The result is an inventive play on typology; the small cluster of different components creates a new identity while sitting comfortably in the landscape amongst other small traditional buildings. It’s an intelligent and witty response to the functional and logistical challenges of location, orientation and isolation and worthy of the 2014 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize."

That rounds up our coverage of RIBA's awards night, but check out the gallery to see each of the above winners in full, in addition to Manchester's Metropolitan University, which was awarded the Client Award – an award presented to highlight the important role that a client plays in the creation of top-tier architecture.

Source: RIBA

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