The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has whittled down the 52 winners of its National Awards and EU Awards to six. One of those will take this year's Stirling Prize, and be declared the best building of the year. Gizmag takes a look at the nominees.

The 2013 Stirling Prize shortlist features mostly new faces, as five of the six architectural practices appear on the list for the very first time. Previous winners include Sir David Chipperfield, and Dame Zaha Hadid.

University of Limerick by Grafton Architects

Grafton Architects was only given what's been ruefully described as a "rock bottom" budget to work with, but nevertheless managed to produce a new medical school facility, student accommodation and a bus shelter for the University of Limerick. Construction was completed in September, 2012.

Park Hill, Sheffield by Hawkins Brown with Studio Egret West

Located just east of Sheffield City Center, Park Hill housing estate was originally (and apparently without irony) envisioned in the late 1950s as an English industrial city's version of an Italian hill village.

Hawkins Brown, Studio Egret West, and Urban Splash left the Grade II listed estate's basic structure mostly intact, but upgraded the interior layout significantly. New windows, security and decor all breathe new life into this oft-maligned but important local landmark.

Park Hill Phase 1 was completed in February, 2013.

Newhall Be by Alison Brooks Architects

The 84-unit Newhall Be housing scheme is located in Harlow, northwest Essex. In a bold stroke, Alison Brooks Architects halved the size of the gardens of the homes, and created roof terraces to "replace" the lost land.

In this way, an extra six houses were squeezed into the development to maximize cost effectiveness. Whether the tradeoff was worth it is open to debate, but the houses are undoubtedly an appealing model for affordable homes.

Newhall Be was completed in July, 2012.

Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre by Heneghan Peng Architects

Like breaking up, building a good visitor's center is hard to do. So when the National Trust contracted Heneghan Peng Architects to create a visitor's center for the Giant's Causeway, the pressure was on.

Happily, the firm delivered, and the unique structure, which has no right angles, fits in perfectly with the 50 - 60 million year old landmark without upstaging it.

Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre was completed in May, 2012.

Bishop Edward King Chapel by Niall McLaughlin Architects

In our opinion, this is the outstanding example among the nominees, and the odds-on favorite to win. Oxfordshire's Bishop Edward King Chapel was fittingly described by the client as "what we dreamed of but didn’t think we would get."

The striking chapel serves both a theological college and a small religious order of nuns, and is located near Oxford city center.

Bishop Edward King Chapel was completed in January, 2013.

Astley Castle, Warwickshire by Witherford Watson Mann Architects

Situated in Nuneaton in the north of Warwickshire, Astley Castle is a modern Landmark Trust holiday home that has been built amid the ruined walls of a 12th century manor.

The property blends old with new, offering guests a heady mix of authentic old world charm and all the modern comforts.

Astley Castle was completed in July, 2012.

The RIBA Stirling Prize 2013 awards winner will be announced on September 26 in London, and we'll be sure to report on which project grabs the prize. Until then, head to the gallery for a closer look at the entries.

Source: RIBA

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