At a ceremony in London on Thursday, Burntwood School in Wandsworth, London was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize 2015. The project was designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, and was completed in 2014 at a cost of £40.9 million.
To original buildings retained from 1958, including two designed by Sir Leslie Martin, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris added six new buildings: four four-storey teaching pavilions, a sports hall, and a performing arts centre. Corridors feature double-height spaces at each end to enhance the level of natural light, while the architects worked with an artist to devise rooms with colourful murals. The campus, which sustains a girls’ secondary and sixth form of 2,000 pupils and 200 members of staff, is now constructed around lawns and squares, with a central covered walkway.
Burntwood School was one of the last projects commissioned under the Building Schools for the Future Scheme, a programme of governmental investment in English secondary school buildings which commenced in 2005. The scheme was scrapped after a review by Michael Gove, then Secretary of State for Education, in July 2010, but Burntwood School had achieved a status of ‘financial close’ and work was allowed to continue.
The RIBA Stirling Prize 2015 judges said:
‘Burntwood School is the clear winner of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize. It is the most accomplished of the six shortlisted buildings because it demonstrates the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society. It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering. It is a genuine collaborative project. There was a wonderful working relationship between the head teacher and the architect: a true partnership of equals.’
Six buildings across the United Kingdom were shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2015. The five buildings shortlisted alongside Burntwood School were:
Darbishire Place in Whitechapel, London, providing social housing for 13 families with the Peabody Trust. Costing £2.3 million, and designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects.
Maggie’s Centre Lanarkshire in Airdrie, a drop-in centre for cancer care within the grounds of Monkland Hospital, in hand-made Danish brick. Costing £1.8 million, and designed by Reiach and Hall Architects.
NEO Bankside in London, four steel and glass blocks featuring an external bracing system, providing 217 flats close to the River Thames. Costing £132 million, and designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building in Greenwich, London, in stone and concrete with fourteen roof gardens, located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, providing a new library and academic space for the departments of architecture and landscape and creative professions and the digital arts. Costing £38.9 million, and designed by Heneghan Peng Architects.
Whitworth Art Gallery extension in Manchester, adding two wings in glass, red brick, and stainless steel, providing additional exhibition space for paintings, sculptures, and textiles, storage room, and a new learning centre. Costing around £15 million, and designed by McInnes Usher McKnight Architects (MUMA).
The Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize is the most prestigious architecture award in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1996, and named after the architect James Stirling, whose most famous projects include the History Faculty building at Cambridge University (1968), the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (1984), and the Clore Gallery, an extension to Tate Britain which houses the art of J. M. W. Turner (1987).
The RIBA Stirling Prize professes to award ‘the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year’. It is presented annually. While the nominated architects must be RIBA members, their project can be anywhere within the European Union, with MAXXI in 2010, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome designed by Zaha Hadid,the last building outside of Britain to win the award. Stirling Prize laureates received a stipend of £20,000.
The judges for 2015 were Peter Clegg, senior partner at Feilden Clegg Bradly Studios; Rory Olcayto, editor of Architects Journal; Dame Theresa Sackler; Steve Tompkins, director of Hamworth Tompkins and a RIBA Stirling Prize 2014 winner; and Jane Duncan, director of Jane Duncan Architects, and RIBA President and Chair.
As in 2014, the award was announced live on the BBC News Channel. The BBC website also partnered with RIBA to run a series of videos on the six shortlisted buildings, and held a poll asking readers to nominate their preferred candidate, which with 38% of ‘tens of thousands’ of votes was won by the Whitworth.
Beyond the Stirling Prize, each year RIBA presents the RIBA National Awards, the RIBA Regional Awards, the RIBA Client of the Year Award, and the Stephen Lawrence Prize, in memory of the teenager murdered in 1993 while striving to become an architect, which rewards projects with a construction budget of less than £1 million.
The RIBA House of the Year 2015 will be determined after a new television series on Channel 4, entitled ‘Grand Designs: RIBA House of the Year’. This will be broadcast weekly from Wednesday 4 November, with a longlist and a shortlist declared in turn, and the winner announced live on Wednesday 25 November.