The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed its six finalists for this year's Stephen Lawrence Prize. Highlighting projects built for under £1 million (roughly US$1.3 million) by fresh architectural talent, this year's selection includes a mobile off-grid artists' studio, an unusual luxury home in London, and an environmentally-friendly school.

Stephen Lawrence was a young black teenager from London who was murdered in 1993 in a racist attack. To honor his desire to become an architect, RIBA launched the prize in 1998.

Each of the six projects chosen for this year hail from England, with five located in the south, either in Hampshire or London, and just one from the north, in Stockport. Each of the finalists can be found in the gallery, but our pick of the bunch can be seen in more detail below.

The Observatory - Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The work of four architecture graduates from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the Observatory is a charming little off-grid artist's studio and shelter.

The project comprises two small buildings placed on a stainless steel base that can be rotated by hand to allow the artist-in-residence to enjoy the best view. Both buildings are clad in Siberian Larch, charred using the traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban timber treatment to improve durability.

A roof-based solar array ensures enough juice for charging a laptop or mobile device, and amenities include a toilet, sleeping area, wood-burning stove, work space, and rainwater collection system.

The Observatory was completed for £35,560 ($47,370).

Tin House - Henning Stummel Architects

Tin House, which is also a finalist in RIBA's House of the Year competition, is a luxury home situated in a London plot overlooked by several other houses. Rather than design a typical house, Henning Stummel Architects created six metal-clad pavilions, each containing a single room and colored so as to blend in with local brick buildings.

Arranged around a central courtyard that includes a small pond to help cool the area, the pavilions are very well insulated and almost airtight. This makes the interiors more efficient at maintaining a comfortable temperature. Each pavilion is also topped by a large skylight to maximize natural light inside.

Tin House was completed for £733,620 ($977,500).

Mellor Primary School - Sarah Wigglesworth Architects

Sarah Wigglesworth Architects was commissioned to extend Mellor Primary School in Stockport. The attractive design focuses on natural materials such as wooden shingles and straw bale insulation. Reclaimed and recycled materials were also used in the project, including car tires repurposed as stepping stones.

Rainwater is captured for use as irrigation, while low-flow water fittings and energy-saving lighting is installed throughout. Finally, the design incorporates a "habitat wall" on its east-facing facade which houses planters, nesting boxes, and insect habitats.

Mellor Primary School cost £591,000 ($787,330) in total.

The overall winner will be announced at the RIBA Stirling Prize awards on 6 October in London.

Source: RIBA

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