This year’s shortlist for the UK’s best new building includes a Hackney primary school, a net-zero office development and the replacement of an Oxford college library previously gifted by Samuel Pepys.
A net-zero office in London’s Liverpool Street is going head-to-head with a striking pink-brick primary school in Hackney and a treehouse-like Oxford college library, in this year’s battle for the UK's prestigious best new building award.
Other candidates include an angular cluster of buildings that form part of Elephant and Castle’s regeneration programme in south London, a set of higher-education facilities in Falkirk, Scotland, and an arts and community centre arranged around a disused lodge in Fulham, London.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on Thursday announced these six buildings as contenders for the 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize.
“As we grapple with housing, energy and climate crises, these six projects give cause for optimism, each offering innovative solutions to the challenges of today and the future,” said RIBA President Simon Allford.
“From major capital city regeneration programmes to new visions for higher education, they all share the ambition to deliver generous architecture fit for a low-carbon future.”
Here’s a closer look.
100 Liverpool Street
This dramatic renovation of a 1980s office block in London’s Liverpool Street was praised by the jury for its use of the existing structure and the way it tackled design complexities, given that it sits over several railway tracks and is next door to a bus station.
“Its approach to reusing the existing building demonstrates clear strategic thinking, keeping what could be salvaged, unpicking what could not, and adding what was necessary,” said the jury.
Designed by Hopkins Architects, the commercial building is also a net-zero carbon development.
Forth Valley College - Falkirk Campus
This set of three cutting-edge higher-education facilities connected by courtyards and open learning spaces is the work of Reiach and Hall Architects.
The new Forth Valley Campus in Falkirk, Scotland, was lauded by the jury for the “level of care, design, coordination, and craftsmanship” that went into the project.
The jury praised the building for its internal organisation in a grid with courtyards, streets, open learning spaces and closed classrooms “mingling together to create a vibrant learning environment”.
Hackney New Primary School and 333 Kingsland Road
This “immense sculptural **pink brute of a building**” sits at a busy junction on the Kingsland Road in Hackney, London, “punctuating” it with “a certain civic pride” - that was the jury’s verdict on this striking brick complex from Henley Halebrown.
Combining affordable housing with a new primary school, the complex makes for a “conceptually rigorous and notable architectural response”, according to the judges.
Sands End Arts and Community Centre
Located on a corner of Fulham’s South Park in London, the new Sands End Arts and Community Centre is a collaborative development comprising several new connected pavilions arranged around the existing disused Clancarty Lodge, a landmark that was refurbished as an exhibition space as part of the same project.
Its honey-toned bricks contain 60 per cent recycled material and are laid on their side, reducing the overall quantity needed.
Judges said the new facility, the work of Mæ Architects, “makes a significant contribution to its community”.
The New Library, Magdalene College
This treehouse-like library has a special backstory - it replaces the previous library which was gifted to the Oxford college by famous diarist Samuel Pepys, 300 years ago.
“A brief to create a college library with a lifespan of 400 years – to replace a library gifted to Magdalene by Samuel Pepys 300 years previously – is no small task,” said the jury. “Niall McLaughlin Architects have certainly risen to the challenge with this deft and inspiring temple to learning.”
They praised the new library’s “exquisitely detailed horizontal engineered timber structure”, concluding that the new building “will present a long and sustainable service life”.
Orchard Gardens, Elephant Park
Orchard Gardens in Elephant and Castle, London, is huge - taking up an entire city block. Made up of 228 homes and 2,500 square metres of retail and cultural spaces, it is intended to be part of Elephant and Castle’s regeneration.
The project, by Panter Hudspith Architects, wraps around a sunny communal garden and plays with contrasting scales and heights, ranging from five to 19 storeys.
“The judges felt that this was an exceptional exemplar of a dense residential-led, mixed-use scheme: a project that provides high quality-homes, well scaled outside spaces that positively respond to their setting and enhances place-making,” said the jury.
The winner of the 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on October 13, 2022.