Notes to editors
1. For further information and images contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office, 020 7307 3813 or firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The prize is named in honour of Berthold Lubetkin, the Georgia-born architect who worked in Paris before coming to London in the 1930s to establish the influential Tecton Group. He is best known for the two Highpoint apartment blocks in Highgate and the Penguin Pool at London Zoo.
3. The RIBA is grateful to UK Trade and Investment for supporting the RIBA Lubetkin Prize presentation at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
4. The RIBA Trust manages the cultural assets of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including the internationally recognised collections of the British Architectural Library. It is the UK's national architecture centre, delivering the RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize (live on Channel 4); the Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellowships and a full programme of lectures, exhibitions, tours and other events; and an education programme.
5. For more information on the Lubetkin Trophy, designed and made by artist Petr Weigl go to www.petrweigl.com
Citations for the six Lubetkin Prize shortlisted buildings follow:
Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3
Chaoyang District, Beijing, People's Republic of China
Architect: Foster + Partners
Executive Architect: NACO
Beijing Institute of Architectural Design
Client: Beijing Capital International Airport Company
Contractor: Beijing City Construction Company
Structural Engineer: Arup
Services Engineer: Arup
Quantity Surveyor: David Langdon
Lighting Consultant: Speirs and Major
Landscape Architect: Michel Desvigne
Contract Value: £10 b RMB (£602m)
Date of completion: August 2008
Gross internal area: 1,300,000,000 sq m
Terminal 3 isn't a radical reinvention of the airport. It doesn't give the building type a shot in the arm like, perhaps, Foster's Stansted Airport or Chep Lap Kok, Hong Kong did. But it does both vastly expand and refine it to make the terminal the most architecturally and technologically advanced in the world.
The building is vast — 1.3m square metres: indeed it is one of the largest, most complicated buildings ever built. That Foster & Partners has managed, despite its scale and the infamous complexity of airport buildings, to make it both look and, more importantly, feel like one of the simplest is a testimony to its success. Using the building, with the "user experience" becoming increasingly important in airports as they come to play a key role in attracting footloose investment to cities and countries, is a joy. Whether moving from plane to taxi out front, or vice versa, the building is simple to use, with circulation instinctive – getting lost in such a linear, conveyor-belt-like building is hard.
It is essentially the same "shed" design that Foster reinvented at Stansted, nodding to air travel architecture's simpler origins, with terminals as tents. Here the "sheds" are two Y-shaped main spaces — T3A for domestic flights, T3B for international — three and a quarter kilometres apart, connected at their ends. The length maximises perimeter space for docking airplanes, and makes navigation simple. You go one way, or the other. Departure and arrivals are one above the other, housed in an internal structure independent of the external shed envelope.
Throughout, visual and circulatory clarity is maintained, natural light and, thanks to the skinny plan, visual connection to the outside world is maximised, and Foster even manages to incorporate the visual symbolism increasingly asked of all architects these days, with nods to traditional Chinese "dragon" symbolism and red and yellow colouring. This is Foster at his best: making the complex simple and enjoyable.
National Stadium Beijing
Beicheng East Road , Chaoyang District, People' Republic of China
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
Executive Architects: China Architectural Design & Research Group
Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong
Client: Zhejiang Joyon Real Estate Co Ltd
Contractor: CSCEC (China State Construction & Engineering Corporation)
Structural Engineer: China Architectural Design & Research Group
Services Engineer: China Architectural Design & Research Group
Landscape Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
Artistic Advisor: Ai Weiwei
Contract Value: £217m
Date of completion: May 2008
Gross internal area: 258,000 sq m
The sports stadium is one of the oldest building types known to mankind, and on the surface at least, one of the simplest. A cauldron of spectators gathers round an essentially oval form, watching a field in which athletes enact tasks which blend the physical with the mythical. And yet to match the power of the spectacle is as hard as it is apparently simple. In truth only a few stadia ever transcend the blunt directness of the form and add something special to the events happening inside.
This building, the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has already earned its place as one of the most iconic of its type anywhere. If the trend in seminal modern stadia design was to break down the apparent separation of the perimeter exterior with the playing field inside, as seen memorably in Renzo Piano's Bari stadium of the late-1980s, via the act of cutting gaps into the encircling form, here the trick is subtler. Internally, the continuity of the bowl is maintained, whereas the entire perimeter skin is dissolved into an irregular and seemingly random lattice of steel beams. By day the building analogises itself to the birds' nests famed for making exotic Chinese soup, while at night its inner bowl glows out in hot red colours.
Already much anticipated ever since the initial design images were published, the stadium as finished is breathtaking. Symbolising China's desire to reach cultural parity with developed western nations, as part of the process of globalisation, the use of such talented Swiss architects has paid off handsomely. As watched on millions, perhaps even billions, of television screens around the world during last year's Olympic ceremonies, the building deploys the representational power of architecture to show how sporting activities can be framed memorably in a given place. At one level the National Stadium in Beijing is like every other stadium, and yet it remains defiantly unique.
Watercube, National Swimming Centre
North Fourth Ring Road, Beijing Olympic Green Village, Beijing 100022, People's Republic of China
Architect: PTW Architects, Sydney
Executive Architects: CSCEC (China State Construction & Engineering Corporation)
CCDI (China State Construction Design International)
Client: People's Government of Beijing Municipality, Beijing-State-owned Assets Management Co Ltd
Contractor: CSCEC (China State Construction & Engineering Corporation)
Structural Engineer: Arup
Environmental Engineer: Arup
Contract Value: 140m Aus dollars
Date of completion: January 2008
Gross internal area: 80,000 sq m
Competition is good for you, Mrs Thatcher used to say. Not all architects would agree, but that is another story. Here the competition provided by Herzog & de Meuron's National Stadium in Beijing has certainly paid off for PTW who had to come up with something equally breath-taking with their design for the 2008 Olympic Swimming Centre. Their quiet response is what could be the most beautiful shed the world has seen.
The square is an important symbol in Chinese culture (so is the bird's nest of course if only when it comes to soup), so the understated geometry of this square box is entirely appropriate. The other analogy is to a series of soap bubbles blown by a child. But in its completed form, it is simply a squidgy blue box full of water. This is achieved by means of a mathematically rigorous steel space frame clad inside and out with inflated cushions of ETFE. These double cushions admit but diffuse light and both insulate the building and permit solar gain. With 10,000 square metres of the clever stuff this is the biggest ETFE project in the world.
Fabricated off-site it was fixed and inflated to a programme that did away with the need for cranes and scaffolding – balloons and cranes don't go. The other great thing about the material is its acoustic properties, a factor which would be much appreciated by any parent who has witnessed the deafening cacophony of a school swimming gala in a conventional pool. The local authorities took more persuading of ETFE's fire-resistant qualities. Yes it burns, Arup admitted, but as it does so it shrinks into itself, self-venting to allow the smoke out.
As well as providing a popular and exciting Olympic venue, both for locals and a vast TV audience, this is also the legacy project par excellence, working now as a swimming pool, ice rink and leisure centre with retail attached. It symbolises the new Beijing.
Theresienstrasse 35a, Munich 80333, Germany
Architect: sauerbruch hutton
Client: Staatliches Baumt München 1
Contractor: all trades individually contracted
Structural Engineer: Ingenieurbüro Fink
Services Engineer: Ingenieurbüro Ottitsch
Lighting Engineer: Arup Lighting
Acoustic Engineer: Akustik-Ingenieurbüro Moll
Landscape Architect: Adelheid Gräfin Schönborn
Contract Value: 48.15m euro
Date of completion: October 2008
Gross internal area: 12,000 sq m
Brandhorst Museum is the culmination of the practice's career-long experimentation into colour and texture, the work of architects at the top of their game. Even more striking than the polychromatic skin is the way in which the architects have captured, filtered and distributed light – which is both the friend and enemy of works of art – throughout the deep-plan building. It is so well day-lit that for more than half the hours of half the days in the year it needs no artificial light – an impressive statistic which may even be improved upon in use. The galleries on the top floor are naturally lit with ceiling panels of barrisol, a stretch-fabric material which produces a soft, even light. On the ground floor, a complex system of reflectors and louvres collects and filters light, producing perfect illumination for the superb collection of modern art which includes works by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke and Damien Hirst. On the lower ground floor, by off-setting the plan the architects have achieved not dissimilar lux levels. The environmental strategy has led to a mechanical system of blinds and louvres that respond to the changing light conditions throughout the day, somewhat noisily disturbing the peace of these otherwise tranquil galleries. But it works: by mixing natural and artificial light in this way, each room has its own character, and one which changes with the movement of the sun.
A slow system of cooling of these spaces is achieved by means of ground water pumped up through the walls, ceilings, and floors before being returned to source. The success of the system and its earlier adoption by other museum and university buildings in the vicinity has meant subterranean temperatures are rising, but for the time being at least 50% of thermal energy is being saved, as is 26% of electrical energy through this and other systems. Overall C02 emissions are calculated to be reduced by 365 tonnes per annum.
The galleries, spread over all three floors vary in size and shape – responding to the permanent collections they contain. Each is offset slightly from its predecessor, this perceptible shift adding visual interest to the promenade. Floors are all of Danish oak, a rich wood which produces a faintly rose-tinted reflection on the sheer white walls, warming the whole of the interior.
The outside of the building is a work of art in its own right. Internal conditions required for the art mean few windows. To compensate and to give something back in urbanistic terms, the architects have produced a skin that, as well as working supremely well environmentally, is a thing of great and subtle beauty. 36,000 hand crafted ceramic rods in 23 different colours, grouped in tonal families, produces an impression that the whole building is oscillating, almost dematerialising. Because there are not pattern repeats this is less like fabric or wallpaper design, more like fine art. On the street side the facade is a double acoustic response to the neighbours' demands for quiet: the ceramic rods themselves make up a porous surface but behind this is a sound-absorbing perforated folded metal sheet. Where the facades face other museum and university buildings, across a green quad, the metallic skin layer is flat, producing a subtly different overall effect.
Sean O'Casey Community Centre
St Mary's Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Ireland
Architect: O'Donnell + Tuomey
Client: Sean O'Casey Community Centre
Contractor: PJ Hegarty & Sons
Structural Engineer: Casey O'Rourke Associates
Services Engineer: RPS Group
Quantity Surveyor: Cyril Sweett
Landscape Consultant: Howbert and Mays
Contract Value: 6.8m euro
Date of completion: February 2009
Gross internal area: 2223 sq m
The Sean O'Casey Community Centre serves the tight-knit community of East Wall, Dublin. There are 1800 houses, one church and one school in an area which is delineated by 19th century infrastructure, namely the Royal Canal and the dockland railway lines. These strong boundaries both define East Wall and separate it from the city.
The community wanted their new building to be both resource and symbol; they wanted a solid building that would stand the test of time. The centre provides a theatre as well as day care, educational and recreational facilities, arranged mainly at ground floor level with a five story 'learning tower'. The ground floor accommodation is neatly arranged around four densely planted courtyards, a lyrical reference to paradise in a tough urban streetscape.
The carefully considered plan creates a hierarchy between public and private, street and garden; the use of courtyards largely negates the need for corridors. The main entrance is accessed through the first courtyard, set back from the street behind a tall timber fence, which meets the need for security while maintaining the openness and transparency that define the building. Sean O'Casey – briefly a local resident - was known for putting on plays in his own front room and the intimate theatre that opens off the reception area makes reference to this tradition. A second courtyard garden separates the main reception area from the community sports hall. A third courtyard brings light and greenery into the canteen which in turn opens out on to the entrance courtyard. A much larger fourth courtyard separates the public functions from the private day-care facilities, which are surrounded by green lawn.
The Sean O'Casey Centre is the result of a clear vision and a strong concept that has been rigorously adhered to at every stage of the project. Materials have been chosen to coexist harmoniously; brick paving used both inside and out reinforces the connection between interior and exterior. There are refreshing details: no attempt has been made to match the structural steel columns to the strong vertical rhythm of the timber glazing to the courtyards, and internal corners are single glazed and frameless to reduce their material impact.
The dominant external material is off-shutter concrete, expertly formed on corrugated iron shutters. Only one external wall is rendered, the east wall of the learning tower which flanks the entrance courtyard. The use of circular windows defines the external facades, arranged in what initially appears to be a random way; the architects described the rationale behind the window pattern as that of a ball bouncing against a wall. Naturally enough, there is very little random about the pattern of the circular windows. Windows of three different diameters have been used; 300mm at high level to provide a view of the sky, 900mm to be above desk height in offices and classrooms and 1800mm where visitors can frame their entire body in the window reveal - should they choose to do so. The circular holes for the windows expose the corrugated section of the concrete which has the delicacy of a curtain.
The idiosyncratic balance between delicacy and solidity in the Sean O'Casey Centre has been created by skilled architects who have exercised their craft, at every turn, in a manner appropriate to the scale and significance of this delightful and uplifting building.
The British High Commission, Sri Lanka
389 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7
Architect: Richard Murphy Architects
Executive Architect: Milroy Perera
Client: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Contractor: Gibs Ltd
Structural Engineer: SKM Anthony Hunt
Services Engineer: Fulcrum Consulting
Contract Value: £7.5 m
Date of completion: May 2008
Contract value: £7.5 m
Gross internal area: 3,400 sq m
This was a dream job for Richard Murphy: the chance to build in the home of one of his two architectural masters Geoffrey Bawa (who designed the Sri Lankan Parliament) – the other being Carlo Scarpa. The influence of both is to be seen in the new British High Commission: the former in the plan, the latter in the detail. The hand of both is in evidence in the landscaping.
Bawa's influence is direct: Murphy invited two former Bawa employees to join him in developing the competition entry. The winning result is a single storey building arranged round a series of courtyards which uses natural stack-ventilation and a degree of natural top-lighting. Although moribund for four years, the job finally went ahead as a design-and-build contract, a new experience for Murphy, with the local practice Milroy Perera, as executive architects. More familiar both to Murphy and the Sri Lankans (historically and through Bawa) is the courtyard plan and the use of pools to help cool the building and add visual interest. There are nine partly enclosed courts, landscaped by Gross Max, adjacent to the central spine and seven more round the edge. The whole, inevitably in a civil war-torn country not to mention in the context of wider post 9/11 security demands, is surrounded a blast-wall. Inside is an entrance court off which the building leads. Office workers are able, indeed encouraged, to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows to the courtyards, allowing in a breeze induced by a thermal chimney above each arm of the design. The section shows this arrangement and the Departments of Trade, Visa, Consulate, Aid etc are each organised in a series of fingers off a central spine.
With structural engineers SKM Anthony Hunt, the architects have designed the necessary defensive structures – despite its rustic appearance: the clay tile roof, the timber, the rough granite walls, the whole building is made out of reinforced concrete. And with services engineers Fulcrum Consulting they have produced a design which is as energy saving and naturally ventilated as possible.
High Commissioner Peter Hayes took up his post too late to influence the design but he believes he has a building that encourages his staff to be "flexible and fleet of foot" and allows them hot-desk in any part of the building. At the opening ceremony, he quoted Cedric Price: "The reason for architecture is to encourage people to behave, physically and mentally, in ways they had previously thought impossible." And he believes that the new building says something about contemporary Britain, and is modern, innovative and risk-taking.