The best new international buildings - RIBA Lubetkin Prize shortlist announced

The shortlist for the prestigious 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize for the best international building has been announced today (Thursday 18 July). Three exceptional projects - two in South East Asia and one in the USA - will be considered for the prize presented by the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA).

The 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize shortlist features Via Verde – The Greenway, a highly sustainable and affordable housing development in New York City; Gardens by the Bay by last year’s RIBA Lubetkin prize-winning architects, Wilkinson Eyre, which creates 2 hectares of indoor gardens in Singapore within the world’s biggest climate-controlled greenhouses; and Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho a beautiful new shopping and office complex rising from a new lower-ground public space in central Beijing.

The full shortlist for the 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize is:

Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore by Wilkinson Eyre

The biggest climate-controlled greenhouses in the world create an enormous new indoor garden for Singapore This carbon-positive scheme comprises two hectares under glass within a new 54 hectare garden, pushing the boundaries both structurally and environmentally. This is an outstanding example of sustainability in action.

Galaxy Soho, Beijing, China by Zaha Hadid Architects

Dynamic new commercial centre that rises from a lower-ground public space in central Beijing. This scheme is civic as much as it is commercial, with well-detailed seating and fountains – yet it also more than pays its way, being fully let before completion. The light and airy public spaces are truly innovative in a sprawling, dense urban context – cities in the West could learn much from this project.

Via Verde – The Green Way, Bronx, New York City by Dattner Architects and Grimshaw

Highly sustainable and affordable new homes, the result of the city’s first social housing design competition. With allotments on its roofs tended by residents, and the use of stairs not lifts, this fine scheme shows that good architecture can make us fitter! This project could be the blueprint for New York’s future housing.

The winner of the RIBA Lubetkin Prize will be announced on the evening of Thursday 26 September by the RIBA in London.

Speaking today, Angela Brady, RIBA President, said:

'The 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize shortlist features three exceptionally innovative projects that meet three very different urban challenges. From the blueprint for New York affordable housing and the creation of an impressive new shopping district in central Beijing to Singapore’s new sustainable gardens, these are all extremely clever solutions. These cutting-edge schemes show the leading role that architects play in delivering visionary new thinking about urban issues, and illustrate why UK creative talent has such recognition around the world.'

The jury selecting the shortlist was RIBA President-Elect Stephen Hodder, Alison Brooks, Meredith Bowles, Peter Clegg (visiting jury), Tony Chapman (visiting jury).



Notes to editors

1. Images of award-winning buildings can be downloaded from here:

2. For further information contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office, 020 7307 3813 or

3. Citations for the three RIBA Lubetkin Prize shortlisted buildings follow:

Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Architect: Wilkinson Eyre

Landscape Architects:     Grant Associates

Client: National Parks Board

Structural Engineers:  Atelier One

Environmental Engineers: Atelier Ten

Contractor: Who Hup Pte Ltd

Completion date:  June 2012

Gross internal area: 20280 sq m

The Gardens by the Bay are an outstanding example of sustainability in action, not only representing best practice but also communicating important messages about these issues to a wide public.

Two contrasting glasshouses covering more than two hectares (making them the biggest climate-controlled greenhouses in the world) feature a dry Mediterranean climate in the shallow inverted bowl, and a cooler, moist environment in the conical structure complete with a ‘mountain’ down which a waterfall descends, raising humidity levels and supporting the lush vertical planting – and a helical walk that winds in and out of a series of exhibitions about climate change.

Both biomes comprise a superstructure of radial steel ribs paired with a steel gridshell forming the substructure. Low-energy glass lets in 64% of the light but admits only 38% of the corresponding solar gain.

Galaxy Soho, Beijing, China

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects

Client: Soho China

Contractor: China Construction First Building (Group) Corp Ltd

Completion date: Oct 2012

Gross internal area: 370000 sq m

Zaha Hadid Architects has not worked on a shopping centre before, but Galaxy Soho represents a welcome democratisation of her work. Situated on the second of ten ring-roads that girdle and define the sprawling capital city and with an in-built link to the Metro system, this development is distinctly urban rather suburban, civic as much as it is commercial. Its creation of public space at lower ground level with well-detailed seating and fountains demonstrates a rare generosity in a country determined to out-do the west in terms of commercialisation.

By breaking the building’s mass into four flowing asymmetric domes of varying height the design gets light into the deep-plan floor-plates. Each structure encloses a glazed atrium around which the internal circulation is arranged. Flowing bands of white aluminium and glass give the development an almost geological solidity and presence. 

Via Verde – The Green Way, Bronx, NYC

Architect: Grimshaw

Landscape Architect:      Lee Weintraub Landscape Architects

Client: Jonathan Rose Companies & The Phipps Houses Group

Contractor:  Lettire Construction

Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates

Services Engineer: Ettinger Engineering Associates

Completion date:  July 2012

Gross internal area: 30007 sq m

Via Verde is a pathfinder project in so many ways: the first ever architectural design competition for social housing in New York City, with a brief that called for a highly sustainable building that would support and encourage healthy living, from the use of stairs to the growing of vegetables on its green roofs; a successful pattern of mixed tenure unique in New York; and finally a design concept that could be rolled out in further housing projects across the Five Boroughs.

Grimshaw’s hi-tech heritage serves the project well – the solar arrays look perfectly at home with the aesthetic of prefabricated panels, metal window frames and balconies and wood panel accents used in the tower, the apartment block and the townhouses. This is an imaginative and highly popular scheme.

4. The RIBA Lubetkin 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. The Lubetkin Prize winner is presented with a unique bronze plaque, based loosely on Lubetkin’s design for the Penguin Pool. It has been commissioned by the RIBA and designed and made by the artist Petr Weigl.

5. To enter for the RIBA Lubetkin Prize the architect must be an RIBA member building outside the EU.

6. The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. @RIBA