1991 - Colin Stansfield Smith 1932 -

Queens Inclosure Middle School

Designer: Hampshire. Architects Department
Copyright: Reid & Peck/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1990)

The award of the Royal Gold Medal to Colin Stansfield Smith represented the last hurrah for public architecture in the United Kingdom. The numbers of architects employed in public service had plummeted in the 12 years of Conservative government and the profession was in a deep slump – the same page of the RIBA Journal which announced the award also reported a new counselling service for unemployed architects.


But the award was not merely a political statement or an attempt to put back the clock. The work done by Stansfield Smith’s department – and still done in 2009 as the only sizeable in-house county architects – represented a benchmark in design excellence, delivery, monitoring of the buildings in use and maintenance.


Born in Manchester he trained at Cambridge where, as a talented all-rounder, he played first class cricket, going on to play professionally for seven years for Lancashire. His work was typified by Woodlea Primary School in Bordon, Hampshire, winner of an RIBA National Award in 1993. His former department continues to win awards in his name with two more RIBA Awards in 2008.


Bishopstoke School, Eastleigh

Designer: Hampshire. Architects Department
Copyright: Joe Low/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1991)

The official citation included the following tribute: 'He has shown that even with tight local authority budgets, good architecture is possible. His work in Hampshire carried his liberal architectural imprint, whether it is by his own hand, produced by his own office, by other architects he has hired (eg Hopkins, Cullinan and Robert Adam) or local authority offices to whom he has delegated. Apart from his huge personal talent, he has deliberately been a catalyst for other architects with differing views on architecture to excel within his own general guidelines for excellence. And always for him the end users’ needs and sensibilities have been paramount.’ The jury comprised Max Hutchinson, Norman Foster, Michael Manser, Dennis Sharp, Eldred Evans and Peter Davey and reached its decision unanimously.