Judges said the John Morden Centre was uplifting, sustainable with a strong social programme – ‘a place of joy and inspiration’.
A daycare and medical centre for the elderly in London has been awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize 2023.
The John Morden Centre was designed by Mæ, to encourage connection and movement among residents, supporting healthier and longer lives.
The centre serves the residents of Morgan College, whose original Grade I-listed complex is attributed to Christopher Wren.
The English architect was also responsible for rebuilding London's St Paul's Cathedral after the original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The "innovative, characterful new building" has it all: uplifting architecture, a strong social programme, re-use of an existing building and sustainable construction.
It offers treatment rooms, a hair salon, a nail bar, an event space, and well-being facilities that were previously spread across the college site.
Structured in timber and brick, the John Morden Centre serves a community of 300, all of whom are in financial need.
Speaking on behalf of the RIBA Stirling Prize jury, chair Ellen van Loon of OMA said:
"The John Morden Centre is a place of joy and inspiration. It delivers a bold and hopeful model for the design of health and care centres for the elderly. Creating an environment that lifts the spirits and fosters community is evident at every turn and in every detail. This building provides comfort and warmth, with thoughtful features designed to prevent isolation."
"It illustrates how buildings can themselves be therapeutic – supporting care and instilling a sense of belonging. Great architecture orients people so they can thrive, and this building is exemplary at achieving exactly that," van Loon continued.
Voters in the Stirling Prize Peoples’ Poll echoed these sentiments, describing it as standing out in an "architecturally deprived sector" and giving "dignity to both the original architecture and the neighbouring Sir Christopher Wren buildings and to those who spend time there".
Other architectural prizes are moving towards recognising buildings rather than architects and moving towards buildings with strong social programs rather than high-budget, high-profile buildings.
Judges hope the attention of giving the Stirling Prize to the John Morden Centre might let it serve as a model for other nursing facilities in and beyond the UK.