"Modern day Machu Picchu" hailed world's best new building

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The concrete building was designed by Ireland's Grafton Architects, in collaboration with local firm Shell Arquitectos(Credit: Iwan Baan)

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Peru's Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC), by Irish firm Grafton Architects, has been declared the world's best new building by the Royal British Institute of Architects (RIBA) and the winner of the inaugural RIBA International Prize. The project beat strong competition in a shortlist that featured five other top-tier buildings, including works by Zaha Hadid Architects and David Chipperfield Architects.

Likened to a modern-day Machu Picchu by RIBA, UTEC is located on the edge of a ravine in the Barranco district of Peru's capital Lima, and serves as a new campus building for the city's specialist engineering university. RIBA says it encourages social mobility for young Peruvians.

The brutalist building was designed in collaboration with local firm Shell Arquitectos and comprises a floorspace of 35,000 sq m (376,736 sq ft). According to Grafton Architects, UTEC's form is conceived as a concrete cliff, with larger sections such as meeting spaces placed nearest the ground, and teaching spaces and administration offices positioned on the higher levels.

Its shape allows for terraced landscapes and nooks for students to use, while also providing ample shading.

"UTEC is an exceptional addition to the city of Lima, and a project that will inspire other architects and universities all over the world," says RIBA President Jane Duncan. "Grafton Architects have created an innovative new model for a university campus that is highly responsive to its local environment and community. The concept of a 'vertical campus' defies convention, as does the mix of open and enclosed spaces, but both are key to the success of this building visually and spatially."

The RIBA International Prize was created to promote civil architecture that empowers people and societies to innovate and progress. The award is the organization's first to be open to any and all architects around the world.

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