Amazing water tower home wins 2021 Stephen Lawrence Prize
Following its unveiling of the 2021 Stirling Prize, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed the winner of the 2021 Stephen Lawrence Prize. Tonkin Liu has received the award for its fantastic work transforming a dilapidated water tower into a one-of-a-kind family home.
The Stephen Lawrence Prize was established in 1998 in honor of a black British teenager who was studying to become an architect before he was murdered in a racist attack. The award covers architecture projects built to a relatively low budget of under £1 million (roughly US$1.4 million) and tends to highlight more experimental works by new firms – though Tonkin Liu is actually a previous winner.
The Water Tower is located in rural Norfolk and has long been a well-known local landmark, but has been out of service for decades. Structurally, the project is actually divided into two towers: a staircase and elevator tower for access, plus the residence itself. It includes a ground floor kitchen/dining area and two floors of bedrooms. These are topped by the original water tank, which has been transformed into a cantilevered, open-plan living space offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
"The Water Tower demonstrates how buildings can be saved and enlivened through expert retrofitting, high-quality craftsmanship and faultless attention to detail," says judge Marco Goldschmied. "The jury unanimously commend Tonkin Liu – the worthy recipient of the 22nd Stephen Lawrence Prize – and their ambitious client for their creativity and dedication. With the positive support and involvement of the local community they have breathed new life into this historic rural structure to create a truly unique family home."
Additionally, RIBA's judges also awarded a rare special mention to the Floating Church by Denizen Works. Based on a London canal boat, it features an innovative roof that brings to mind a VW pop-top camper van and can be raised when in use or lowered to pass beneath nearby bridges and reach another area.