The Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar, Germany, designed by David Chipperfield Architects has won the 12th RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects' Journal. The presentation of the UK's premier architectural award took place at a glittering award ceremony this evening (Saturday 6 October) at the Roundhouse, London and was televised live on Channel 4 at 9pm.
This is the first time a building designed by David Chipperfield Architects has won the prize.
The judges commented:
"Following re-unification, texts of various well-known German authors which had previously been dispersed to east and west have now been brought together in this new museum. In a suitably commemorative manner the building forms a small Acropolis attached to the National Schiller Museum on a ridge overlooking the valley of the River Neckar. The entrance sequence is brilliant. The visitor crosses an open terrace overlooking the valley, negotiates a series of shallow steps to enter the generous portal formed in the colonnade, and then enters through giant hardwood doors. A staircase descends to the collections with their required diminishing lighting levels. It is at this moment of descent that the building shows its pedigree – a sense of a progression to somewhere beyond, combined with a rich but selective palette of materials and illuminated with subdued top lighting. The route concludes in the permanent collection. Here glass cases containing original manuscripts form a magical flickering landscape. There is a particular theatricality about this space, as though the reflections, refractions and multiple shadows from the small intense lights collectively represent the soul of the German imagination.
"This is a building that is simultaneously rich and restrained, a trick Chipperfield pulls off as well as any architect working today. The architect's control and discrimination in the choice of materials has by now become a signature but above all it is in the handling of the 'difficult whole' that the building excels.
"This is a remarkably low-cost building in a high-cost country at just £2180 per square metre. The architects have made a merit of the need for economies. You can see that every penny spent has been carefully considered but that the right way to do things has always been chosen over the cheapest.
"Since the end of the war Germany has been sensitive to matters concerning the neo-classical in architecture. Had it been submitted a decade or two earlier it would surely have been eliminated for its formal manner. It is encouraging that with time, more even handed attitudes have prevailed."
Sunand Prasad, RIBA President, announced the winner and Kieran Long, Editor of The Architects' Journal presented David Chipperfield with the prize and a cheque for £20,000.
The Museum of Modern Literature beat off stiff competition from five other outstanding contenders: America's Cup Building , Valencia, Spain - David Chipperfield Architects; Casa da Musica , Porto, Portugal - Office for Metropolitan Architecture with Arup-AFA; Dresden Station Redevelopment , Dresden, Germany - Foster + Partners; The Savill Building , Windsor - Glenn Howells Architects and the Young Vic Theatre , London - Haworth Tompkins.
The RIBA Stirling Prize jury, comprising architecture specialists and lay judges visited all six shortlisted buildings and then met for a final time this afternoon to pick the winner. The judges were Tom Bloxham MBE – chair, Urban Splash; Alain de Botton – author and philosopher; Louisa Hutton – architect; Kieran Long – Editor, The Architects' Journal and Sunand Prasad – architect and RIBA President.
This is the 12th year the RIBA Stirling Prize has been presented. Last year's winner was Barajas Airport in Madrid by Richard Rogers Partnership. The previous winners are: The Scottish Parliament, designed by EMBT / RMJM, 30 St. Mary Axe by Foster and Partners; the Laban Centre, London by Herzog & de Meuron; Gateshead Millennium Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre; Magna, Rotherham by Wilkinson Eyre; Peckham Library and Media Centre by Alsop and Störmer; the NatWest Media Centre at Lord's Cricket Ground by Future Systems; the American Air Museum at Duxford by Foster and Partners; The Music School, Stuttgart by Michael Wilford and Partners; and the Centenary Building, University of Salford, by Hodder Associates.
The RIBA Special Awards honour the best buildings with special emphasis on: sustainable and inclusive design; conservation; exemplary school design, a one-off home and a project working within a smaller budget. The following winners of the RIBA Special Awards were also announced and presented at the ceremony this evening:
The Salt House, a smooth-timbered modernist seaside house in Essex, won the Manser Medal sponsored by the Rooflight Company for the best one-off house designed by an architect in the UK.
Wooda in Cornwall - a flexible arts space comprising a drama-space barn, a small stone shed, and an artist's studio by David Sheppard Architects - won the Stephen Lawrence Prize sponsored by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation for the best example of a building with a construction budget of less than £1 million.
Portland College New Learning Centre, Mansfield by Patel Taylor won the RIBA Inclusive Design Award sponsored by CABE which celebrates inclusivity in building design.
The SS Great Britain and Historic Dockyard, Bristol by Alec French Architects won The Crown Estate Conservation Award . The prize is awarded to the best work of conservation which demonstrates successful restoration or adaptation of an architecturally significant building.
Upper Twyford Barns, Hereford by Architype won the RIBA Sustainability Award sponsored by English Partnerships , given to the building that demonstrates most elegantly and durably the principles of sustainable architecture.