And the winner is

The winners of the RIBA prizes for outstanding architecture include seven educational projects, two of which are Stirling nominated

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed the winners of the 2014 RIBA National Awards, the most rigorously-judged awards for architectural excellence. Projects that go beyond the brief and exceed the client’s expectation, RIBA Award-winning buildings set the standard for good architecture.

This year’s Award winners include seven educational projects, profiled below and overleaf. In addition, two of the seven – London School of Economics’ Saw Swee Hock Student Centre by O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects, and Manchester School of Art and Design by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studioshave been shortlisted for the prestigious 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize for the best new building. The six exceptional shortlisted buildings will now go head-to-head for architecture’s highest accolade, to be awarded on Thursday 16 October.

Speaking of the two educational projects to make the Stirling Prize shortlist, RIBA President Stephen Hodder said: “The London School of Economics and Manchester School of Art illustrate the good health of the British higher education building projects. Both buildings serve the students brilliantly. The LSE building has created a pocket of visual drama and eccentricity in contrast to the grey quarter in which it sits, while Manchester School of Art is a modern student factory – a hothouse of creativity with a level of interaction between different disciplines never before achieved.”

Drapers Academy

Drapers Academy

London Borough of Havering
Architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Client The Drapers’ Company, Queen Mary University London
Contractor Keir Construction London
Structural Engineer WSP UK
Services Engineer WSP UK
Contract Value £21.4m
Date of completion March 2012
Gross area (sqm) 10,692

Judges’ notes
“This school is a beautiful and accomplished piece of architecture. It has a very clear, rational plan that creates an unusual sense of calm, while also fulfilling the client’s brief in its curriculum organisation, with open access to science and maths at the heart of the school. The building is exquisitely detailed and sits very elegantly within its own setting, with views to the wonderful surrounding landscape.”

John Henry Brookes Building

John Henry Brooks Building

Architect Design Engine Architects
Client Oxford Brookes University
Contractor Laing O’Rourke
Structural Engineer Ramboll UK
Services Engineer Grontmij
Contract Value Confidential
Date of completionJan 2014
Gross area (sqm) 24,320

Judges’ notes
“This space made us wish we could go back to university again. Despite being a big building with many points of entry and routes through, it is very easy to navigate and move around, including very easy access for all abilities. The new elevated entrance is highly engaging, with the careful selection of complementary materials and high-quality, stimulating finishes resulting in generous and well-used public areas. A new public route has a free-flowing, comfortable atmosphere with plenty of coffee shops, hang-out areas: it almost feels like a street.

“This project also has the lowest total emissions of all the projects by a long way, mainly due to the huge area of photovoltaics.”

The Ritblat Building, Hilden Grange Preparatory School

The Ritblat Building

Tonbridge, Kent
Architect HawkinsBrown
Client Alpha Plus Group
Contractor AM Construction
Contract Value £4.1m
Date of completionSeptember 2013
Gross area (sqm) 1,473

Judges’ notes
“Hilden Grange Preparatory School sought new classroom and canteen/assembly facilities to replace existing temporary accommodation at the rear of their existing Victorian building. The new buildings were procured under a design and build contract.

‘The proposal employs two classroom wings either side of a playground with a canteen/assembly space sunk between, adjacent to the existing Victorian building. Each wing has a different roof profile and aesthetic, one pitched with timber shingles to wall and roof, the other a prismatic grass roof with vertical timber boarding. The two wings frame a view to the countryside beyond. The contrasting roofs create an attractive informal composition.”

The Lee Building

The Lee Building

Ralph Allen School, Bath
Architect Fielden Fowles Architects with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Client Bath & North East Somerset Council/Ralph Allen School
Contractor H Mealing & Sons
Structural Engineer Ramboll
Services Engineer Hoare Lea
Contract Value £1.4m
Date of completion September 2013

Judges’ notes
“This new sixth-form building is made from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that remain visible internally, offering a warm, domestic glow to what are otherwise large spaces, although a rammed earth wall (using earth from the site) in the lower floor, separating two teaching spaces, makes its way into the building and is a delightful and educational element. Externally the building is clad in sweet chestnut and, being on the front of the campus, creates a new face for the otherwise slightly sprawling school. The building offers great, usable spaces that delight. It is a fine example of what schools should be commissioning.”

Waverley School

Waverley School

Architect AHMM
Client Lend Lease and Birmingham City Council
Contractor Lend Lease
Structural Engineer Stewart & Harris
Services Engineer RPS Group
Contract Value £19.8m
Date of completionApril 2013
Gross area (sqm) 13,275

Judges’ notes
“An organogram process led the design of this, the first all-through school in Birmingham, with a clear and rational arrangement of finger-like buildings leading from primary years through to sixth form. A simple, rationalised palette of locally sourced materials with close attention to detailing has created an understated yet confident civic language for the building. Dark, textured and well-ordered brickwork elevations inspired by the Victorian railway arches provide an interesting canvas for the inner school life expressed by contrasting colours and deep external terraces.”

London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre: Stirling Prize shortlist

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

Architect O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects
Client LSE: Estates Division
Contractor Geoffrey Osborne
Structural Engineer Horganlynch Consulting Engineers
Services Engineer BDSP (now Chapman BDSP)
Contract Value £24.1m
Date of completion December 2013
Gross area (sqm) 6,100

Judges’ notes
“In the midst of a complex medieval London street pattern O’Donnell and Tuomey have woven a little of their magic.

“This remarkable project is an object lesson in mobilising the limitations of a site into a surprising and original building. The architects started by taking the geometry of tight angles as the definition of a solid, into which they gouged cuts and cracks that give light and form, creating a spiral that rises through the whole height of the structure as a continuous internal street. Outer walls slope and twist, floors take up complex non-orthogonal shapes, yet all the accommodation generated seems to be natural and functional. The result is truly unexpected.

“The building is made of simple materials, predominantly brick – there are 46 standard shape bricks, 127 special bricks out of a total of 175,000, and not a single cut brick. This is achieved with walls that slope and perforate to give shading and have angles that vary in every direction. The use of daylight, natural ventilation and many other details has given the design a BREEAM Outstanding rating.”

“The building is beautifully constructed in spite of the difficulties of being novated to the contractors. To build a building like this required a high degree of craftsmanship and care, achieved through the sheer willpower of the architects.”

Manchester School of Art and Design: Stirling Prize shortlist

Manchester School of Art and Design

Architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Client Manchester Metropolitan University
Contractor Morgan Sindall
Structural Engineer Arup
Services Engineer Arup
Contract Value £23.6m
Date of completionApril 2013
Gross area (sqm) 17,320

Judges’ notes
“The major refurbishment of a 1960s tower and the creation of a new building with open studios and workshops has been executed with great skill and innovation. This is a building where the exploration of design and creativity will flourish.

“It feels as if you are entering a metropolitan art gallery rather than a university department. This is an atrium with real purpose: providing public and other students with glimpses of works of art and their making. Different disciplines can see what their confreres are up to and are encouraged to mix and collaborate: graphic arts with fine arts, architecture with fashion, photography with jewellery.

“The welcoming ‘vertical gallery’ space is open to all, enabling students and visitors to perambulate up gently rising flying staircases. Behind the vertical element sits the ‘design shed’ where open studios, workshops and teaching spaces provide a wide range of spaces for learning.

“This building is a catalyst for the exploration of design and creativity. As the school prospectus states, ‘Manchester School of Art believes an art school is more than just a place. It is a bridge between the acceptable and the possible, between what is and what if.’ They could be describing Feilden Clegg Bradley’s remarkable new building.”

Art of the matter 

Morgan Sindall’s Paul Heald discusses his work on the award-winning Manchester School of Art and Design extension:

“The pressure on the contractor is the same when working on a high-profile architectural design as it is with something more conventional. As main contractor, our focus is on the health and safety of those on site, managing sub-contractors and keeping to the time and cost schedule.

“The project for the School of Art and Design was a mix of refurbishment (including window replacement and over-cladding of two 1960s-era teaching blocks) and part new-build, with both elements combined to create one of the key buildings of the year.

“From my first look at the plans, it was clear that the build was going to be complex: for example, the building envelope has a large number of interfaces. But I was pleased to be given the opportunity to deliver this landmark building.

“We understood that the building would have more artistic flair and creativity than the norm, and our meetings with the customer drove home their passion for the aesthetic requirements. There was a real buzz for everybody involved throughout the construction.”

Pic credits:
Drapers: Timothy Soar
John Henry Brookes: Nick Kane
Ritblat: Tim Crocker
Ralph Allen: Chris Pendrich
Waverley: Timothy Soar
Saw Swee Hock: Dennis Gilbert
Manchester School of Art: Hufton + Crowe


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