Seniors' day care center wins UK's top architecture award
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the recipient of the 2023 Stirling Prize, the most prestigious award in UK architecture. Mæ has won for its superb work designing the John Morden Centre, a day care center for elderly people.
Located in London, the John Morden Centre is part of a retirement community named Morden College, which was created for older people in need of a comfortable and safe home for the rest of their lives.
The center is arranged into a number of brick buildings which are connected by a timber walkway. The interior decor throughout embraces natural light and timber, and great care has been taken to anticipate the varied needs and abilities of its users. Wooden handrails are available and built-in seating is installed along walkways, offering ample opportunities for rest. High-contrast patterns on the edges of floors ensure dementia-friendly wayfinding. The architects' deft touch continues outside too. The center is arranged around a mature garden, including a large cedar tree. There are multiple places to sit and to enjoy the view.
Another emphasis was to counter feelings of loneliness with opportunities for casual socializing, both inside and outside, including an art room, hair and nail salon and a café. A theater provides a backdrop for larger scale events.
"Loneliness and isolation are critical issues, particularly for older people," said RIBA President Muyiwa Oki. "The John Morden Centre's elegance and efficacy sets a high standard for spaces that support healthier, happier and more independent lives. It illustrates the positive potential of architecture to strengthen vibrant and active communities.
"This is a skillfully designed package that minimizes the building's impact on our planet's delicate ecology, while also harnessing the therapeutic value of the surrounding nature. It stands as a testament to the vision and ambition of Morden College, Mæs creativity – and the exemplary collaboration between them."
In addition to its focus on natural light, ventilation was prioritized throughout and, similarly to last year's winner, the New Library, Magdalene College, the building makes use of ventilating chimneys to help fill the interior with fresh air using the stack effect. A generous overhanging zinc roof provides shade and shelter year-round, and is complemented by lush greenery.
The John Morden Centre is the 27th annual winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize and was chosen following the reveal of six shortlisted projects earlier this year.