Architecture

Which of these buildings will RIBA name the world's best?

Which of these buildings will ...
The Toho Gakuen School of Music is one of the four projects shortlisted for RIBA's International Prize
The Toho Gakuen School of Music is one of the four projects shortlisted for RIBA's International Prize
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Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest (aka Bosco Verticale) has picked up several awards since it was first revealed back in 2011
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Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest (aka Bosco Verticale) has picked up several awards since it was first revealed back in 2011
Vertical Forest offers a pleasant green environment in an inner-city high-rise
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Vertical Forest offers a pleasant green environment in an inner-city high-rise
Vertical Forest comprises two towers rising to a height of 80 m (262 ft) and 112 m (367 ft)
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Vertical Forest comprises two towers rising to a height of 80 m (262 ft) and 112 m (367 ft)
Vertical Forest has almost 17,000 trees, shrubs and plants
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Vertical Forest has almost 17,000 trees, shrubs and plants
O’Donnell + Tuomey's Central European University Phase 1 is a new center of learning in the heart of Budapest
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O’Donnell + Tuomey's Central European University Phase 1 is a new center of learning in the heart of Budapest
Central European University Phase 1 was created as part of an ongoing redevelopment of the Central European University
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Central European University Phase 1 was created as part of an ongoing redevelopment of the Central European University
Central European University Phase 1 provides a new library, an auditorium, teaching and learning facilities, study rooms, and a café
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Central European University Phase 1 provides a new library, an auditorium, teaching and learning facilities, study rooms, and a café
Central European University Phase 1 is centered around a large new limestone-clad building that connects several historical buildings and courtyards
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Central European University Phase 1 is centered around a large new limestone-clad building that connects several historical buildings and courtyards
O’Donnell + Tuomey's Central European University Phase 1 looks like an inspiring place to learn
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O’Donnell + Tuomey's Central European University Phase 1 looks like an inspiring place to learn
Children Village, by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum, is located in a rural area of Brazil
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Children Village, by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum, is located in a rural area of Brazil
Children Village provides boarding accommodation to 540 children of rural farm workers who live too far away to make the commute to school 
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Children Village provides boarding accommodation to 540 children of rural farm workers who live too far away to make the commute to school 
Children Village is largely made from locally-sourced timber
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Children Village is largely made from locally-sourced timber
Children Village includes meeting spaces – such as dormitories, reading spaces, balconies and hammocks – all designed with student input
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Children Village includes meeting spaces – such as dormitories, reading spaces, balconies and hammocks – all designed with student input
Children Village, by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum, is located in a rural area of Brazil
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Children Village, by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum, is located in a rural area of Brazil
Children Village includes lots of shared meeting spaces 
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Children Village includes lots of shared meeting spaces 
The Toho Gakuen School of Music is one of the four projects shortlisted for RIBA's International Prize
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music is one of the four projects shortlisted for RIBA's International Prize
The Toho Gakuen School of Music has been carefully designed to offer lots of natural light with its generous glazing
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music has been carefully designed to offer lots of natural light with its generous glazing
The Toho Gakuen School of Music replaces an earlier building on the site
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music replaces an earlier building on the site
The Toho Gakuen School of Music has been designed to ensure optimum acoustics 
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music has been designed to ensure optimum acoustics 
The Toho Gakuen School of Music has an almost village-like quality with independent teaching spaces and communal spaces
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music has an almost village-like quality with independent teaching spaces and communal spaces
The Toho Gakuen School of Music ensures that practice rooms are very well soundproofed so as not to interrupt nearby musicians
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music ensures that practice rooms are very well soundproofed so as not to interrupt nearby musicians
The Toho Gakuen School of Music is a renowned music college in suburban Tokyo
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The Toho Gakuen School of Music is a renowned music college in suburban Tokyo
View gallery - 22 images

Greenery-covered high-rises, a high-end music school, a wooden boarding school, and a university that blends old with new all feature in this year's RIBA International Prize shortlist. The competition honors buildings from around the world that exemplify design excellence, display architectural ambition, and deliver meaningful social impact. Just one will be named the best later this year.

The biennial International Prize is the newest major award from RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects), and has crowned only one winner so far, Peru's "modern day Machu Picchu" back in 2016. The four projects that make up this shortlist were selected from a longlist revealed in 2017 and, while they aren't the most eye-catching in that list, RIBA feels that each makes a significant contribution to their local community.

"The marker of a truly successful building is the positive contribution it makes to its local context and people," says RIBA president Ben Derbyshire. "All four of these projects thoroughly demonstrates visionary, innovative thinking and excellence of execution, and positively impacts the communities they have been designed for."

We take a quick look at each building below, or you can head to the gallery to see more. We'll be back to report on the winner once it's decided in late November.

Children Village

Children Village includes meeting spaces – such as dormitories, reading spaces, balconies and hammocks – all designed with student input
Children Village includes meeting spaces – such as dormitories, reading spaces, balconies and hammocks – all designed with student input

Children Village, by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum, is a boarding school located in a rural area in Brazil. It offers accommodation to 540 children of farm workers who live too far away to make the journey to school daily.

Primarily built from locally-sourced timber, the attractive building includes lots of meeting spaces, such as reading nooks, balconies, and hammocks. In a nice touch, the architects sought input from the resident students during the design process.

Vertical Forest

Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest (aka Bosco Verticale) has picked up several awards since it was first revealed back in 2011
Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest (aka Bosco Verticale) has picked up several awards since it was first revealed back in 2011

Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest (aka Bosco Verticale) in Milan has been collecting awards since it was revealed in 2011. Indeed, the project proved so successful that Boeri has since designed similar greenery-covered towers in China, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands.

The original is still probably the best though, and certainly the most impactful. Comprising two residential towers rising to a height of 80 m (262 ft) and 112 m (367 ft), respectively, they feature integrated concrete planters that host almost 17,000 trees, shrubs and plants, offering a pleasant greenery-filled environment in an inner-city high-rise.

Central European University Phase 1

Central European University Phase 1 was created as part of an ongoing redevelopment of the Central European University
Central European University Phase 1 was created as part of an ongoing redevelopment of the Central European University

O'Donnell + Tuomey's Central European University Phase 1 is located in the heart of Budapest and is part of an ongoing redevelopment.

The project is centered around a large new limestone-clad building that connects several nearby historical buildings and courtyards. It provides a library, an auditorium, teaching and learning facilities, study rooms, and a café. The architects managed to successfully honor Budapest's existing architecture while also creating something interesting and new.

Toho Gakuen School of Music

The Toho Gakuen School of Music replaces an earlier building on the site
The Toho Gakuen School of Music replaces an earlier building on the site

The Toho Gakuen School of Music is a renowned music school in suburban Tokyo. The new open-plan campus was designed by Nikken Sekkei and replaces an earlier building on the site, which had an uninspired interior layout and offered no natural light to students.

It provides a visual connection between practicing musicians and ample natural light with its generous glazing. Considerable effort was expended to ensure optimum acoustics too. The campus has an almost village-like quality with multiple independent teaching spaces and communal spaces.

Source: RIBA

View gallery - 22 images
5 comments
ljaques
Wow, why do I look at these architectural award sites, anyway? I always come away sad and discouraged.
The Toho Gakuen School of Music is the most hideous thing I've seen in awhile. If someone told a student that was their music school as they drove up, the student would likely break into tears. And the thought of playing instruments when surrounded by concrete and glass just makes my ears ache without actually hearing the brightness of that combo. (I was an audiophile in me yout.)
A farm jail for kids, complete with pens?
And I hope that huge slanted glass wall in the uni is on the North side. Otherwise, the sunlight would be sheer hell.
ei3io
It is sad and discouraging to see so many spewing ignorance about Modern architecture. Too many fail to grasp its values due to lacking understanding the many issues like this; The Toho Gakuen School of Music ensures that practice rooms are very well soundproofed so as not to interrupt nearby musicians. If one were actually there they certainly would begin to appreciate its values as long as they let a closed mind begin to open.
Mark Salamon
I agree with ljaques -- the "Brutalist" style of the Toho Gakuen School of Music is oppressively ugly. It mystifies me why so many architects continue to design buildings that feel like punishment to be in or around.
Mark Mitchell
I third the sentiment. That school is a Brutalist nightmare regardless of how helpful its sound qualities might be. A cheesy strip mall would be a more inviting environment. They could at least make it not look like it's been bathed in coal smoke for decades.
jshaw
Let's see. Architects deciding a great design. So, it will have to be a flat-roofed box. So inspiring.