The Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) has whittled down its selection of 37 National Awards winners to just six for this year's Stirling Prize Shortlist. An overall winner will be declared the best British building of 2015 later in the year, and receive the prestigious Stirling Prize.
While last year's list was defined by huge projects like Zaha Hadid's London Aquatics Center and Renzo Piano's Shard, this year's half-dozen is arguably mildly underwhelming in comparison. We're also surprised that critic favorite The Foundry, by Architecture 00, hasn't made the cut. That said, the list is still a good selection of UK architecture.
The six shortlisted projects are: Burntwood School, by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris; Darbishire Place, by Niall McLaughlin Architects; Maggie's Lanarkshire, by Reiach and Hall Architects; Neo Bankside, by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners with John Robertson Architects; University of Greenwich, by Heneghan Peng Architects; and The Whitworth Art Gallery, by MUMA.
All but one of the shortlisted projects are located in England (Maggie's Center is in Lanarkshire, Scotland), and four are in London (the other exception being Manchester's Whitworth art gallery).
Darbishire Place, by Niall McLaughlin Architects, is an attractive and affordable residential building located on the site of a former mansion that was destroyed in the Second World War by a German V-2 rocket. Completed last year for a budget of £23 million (roughly US$35 million), it includes 13 homes and a floorspace of around 1,084 sq m (11,668 sq ft).
The building's elegant styling impressed RIBA's judges, as did its considered layout, which enables most of the apartments within to feel relatively roomy.
"Internally the plan naturally invites you to use the stair – and what a stair: residents must feel a million dollars, like stars on an ocean liner, all graceful curves, an elegant swooping hand-rail and all that top-light," says RIBA.
Moving from one facet of the London housing market to another, Neo Bankside, by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners with John Robertson Architects, is a high-end luxury residential tower carefully designed to part the ultra-rich with their cash in return for what the developers reckon is one of the better views in London.
Completed in 2012, the apartment building boasts an exoskeleton frame and exterior elevators, and is located next to the Tate Modern on London's South Bank. It comprises 217 residential units, six of which are penthouses, and if you'd like to grab yourself a penthouse pad, prices start at £5,950,000 ($9,292,894).
"This is high-quality housing you would be unlikely to see elsewhere in the world in the inner city – and it is ungated," notes RIBA. "Overall the scheme has a scale and a richness that is appropriate to the practice and to this important part of London."
Burntwood School, by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, was completed last year at a cost of £40,900,000 ($63,833,526), and comprises a total floorspace of 21,405 sq m (230,401 sq ft). Based in Wandsworth, London, the all-girls school is a secondary school and sixth form that has academy status.
Its angular, pre-cast concrete exterior contrasts with an airy interior that boasts large, light-filled spaces, in a way that the RIBA judges liken to an Ivy League college campus.
"The rooms are gracious and full of light, and there are many double, even triple-height spaces," says RIBA. "Internal corridors all end in well-framed views. This is education architecture as it should be."
Check out the gallery for a look at the rest of the entries, and we'll be back in October to report on the competition's overall winner.
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