Small projects, big talent: RIBA's Stephen Lawrence Prize shortlist
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced seven projects shortlisted for 2018's Stephen Lawrence Prize. Consisting of relatively inexpensive works built for under £1 million (roughly US$1.3 million) by fresh architectural talent, this year's selection includes a stunning wooden school extension, a large farm shed turned into a luxury home, and a memorial to one of Britain's worst modern civilian disasters.
The Stephen Lawrence Prize was created in honor of a black British teenager of the same name who was aspiring to become an architect before he was murdered in a racist attack in 1993.
Of course, like the AIA's Small Project Awards, you could argue that £1 million isn't really that small a budget, but it's all relative – at least in a country in which a 91-inch house can cost over a million pounds. It's also one of the more interesting British prizes and tends to highlight small projects that might otherwise be overlooked in the busy awards season.
All of the seven projects shortlisted are based in England, with six in the south, primarily in London, and just one hailing from up north in Yorkshire. The winner will be announced later this year.
Belvue School Woodland Classrooms
As we reported in our previous coverage, Belvue School's Woodland Classrooms extension in London is an outstanding building with an inspiring story. The school for children with severe learning difficulties required more space and was due to be allocated a couple of portable cabins. The head of the school decided this wasn't good enough for her kids and raised the money herself to commission Studio Weave to design this beautiful new building of exposed timber frame and birch plywood.
Bethnal Green Memorial
The Bethnal Green Memorial, by Arboreal Architecture, serves as a reminder of one of the worst civilian disasters in modern British history. What is now the south east access stair to the Bethnal Green Underground station in London was used as an air raid shelter in WWII. During an air raid, 173 people died as they rushed to safety. The work inverts the negative space within the stairwell where the crush occurred and is made from sustainably-sourced teak. When weather allows, holes in the roof send 173 shafts of sunlight, one for every death, toward the stairwell.
Dartmouth Park House
London's Dartmouth Park House, by AY Architects, began as a modest conversion of what RIBA describes as "an over-developed Victorian terraced house," but ended up becoming an ambitious redevelopment of the entire building. Its modest street-facing facade conceals a light-filled and modern interior that includes a timber-floored central courtyard with a tree fern planted for shade.
Five Acre Barn
Blee Halligan was commissioned to extend a tired old brick barn into a bed and breakfast, and came up with this very attractive new building with an undulating roofline wrapped in cedar shingles. Five Acre Barn provides comfortable accommodation for up to five visitors in Suffolk and takes its place extremely well within a mature garden on a plot of land measuring – you guessed it – 5 acres (2 hectares).
Old Shed New House
Previously highlighted in our coverage of RIBA's House of the Year longlist, Old Shed New House, by Architects Tonkin Liu, involved turning an agricultural shed in Yorkshire into a luxury property containing a residence, private library, and art gallery, all while retaining its agricultural looks. It has large amounts of insulation installed, as well as high levels of air tightness, mechanical ventilation, and heat recovery systems – making it impressively energy-efficient to run.
31/44 Architects used brick and precast concrete patterns to ensure its contemporary Red House didn't stand out too much among the surrounding houses and ruin the overall character of an existing London street. The interior, however, is a more radical departure from your typical British terrace and provides a modern, light-filled, and space-maximizing three story home.
White Heather House
White Heather House involved the redevelopment of homes for vulnerable homeless women who work in the red-light district of Southend. SKArchitects head Steve Kearney went so far as to form his own construction company to overcome early setbacks and delays in order to deliver the project to a tight budget and timescale. The result is a colorful, private and secure environment for the women to live in.