RIBA STIRLING PRIZE WINNERS

Lord's Media Centre (1999)

Architect

Type

Stadium or sporting arena

Built

1999

Location

Digital alarm clock, barcode reader, alien starship: these are just a few of the attempts by the press to explain a structure that at first did indeed seem alien to its very conventional setting.

The Natwest Media Centre is a futuristic building that provides journalists and commentators with an enviable view of the grounds. Both its form and its structure are unconventional. The giant pod that sits above the stands was built in a Cornish boatyard, then dismantled and reassembled on site. It was the world’s first all-aluminium, semi-monocoque building, using the technique of welding the skin on to a structure of ribs and spars, characteristic of boat and aircraft building and removing the need for obstructive columns. The advantage of this method of construction was the provision of both a waterproof shell and structural elements in one material. External glare, which has been known to stop cricket matches elsewhere, is avoided by the 25-degree tilted windows.

Internally it is as comfortable and luxurious as the 50s Chevrolet whose baby-blue upholstery inspired it.

The judges said of the project, ‘The NatWest Media Centre is already a TV personality. It is its own thing, completely unusual and totally uncompromising. It is a breath of architectural fresh air. Perhaps that is why we all got so excited as we walked into the Media Centre. Judges try to put themselves into the position of an eight-year-old when they first see a building, and this was the one, we all agreed, as-eight-year-olds we would have the most fun in. In fact everyone felt ten years younger, seeing the blue.

It is a complete one-off: a wacky solution to a singular problem. There is something brilliant about having a dream and seeing it through. Future Systems have been wanting to do this for a long time and they’ve done it. In so many ways this is the building of 1999: an extraordinary iconic structure that has landed in the middle of Lord’s and changed the face of cricket. It is at last in the 20th century – in the nick of time. It may or may not be the future, but it certainly works.’

Architects: Future Systems
Commissioned 1994
Completed 1999

drag images hereLord’s Media Centre, London, © Richard DaviesLord’s Media Centre, London, © Richard DaviesLord’s Media Centre, London, © Richard DaviesLord’s Media Centre, London, © Loz FlowersLord’s Media Centre, London, © Richard Davies
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