Shortlist announced for 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize for the best new building

The shortlist for the prestigious 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize for the best new building has been announced today (Thursday 17 July). The six exceptional shortlisted buildings will now go head-to-head for architecture’s highest accolade, to be awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on 16 October 2014. The six buildings will be judged by the same criteria: their design excellence and their significance in the evolution of architecture and the built environment.

The shortlist for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize is:

Everyman Theatre, Liverpool by Haworth Tompkins

After nine years gestation, Liverpool has a brand new purpose-built theatre of outstanding quality. The selection and use of materials has created an exceptionally tactile building.  This is a building that will age gracefully, continually enriched by the patina of daily use. It will both reassure and delight its loyal audience and those discovering this gem for the first time.

Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo

Three stacked boxes adorned with a glittering filigree screen are the signature of this landmark, which makes a bold and transformative addition to the city. With formal and informal spaces for reading, relaxing, playing and participating in the library’s programme of events, it has shaken the traditional perception of a library, turning it to a place where families and readers can spend a whole day learning and engaging.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

This world-class building was a fitting backdrop for the 2012 Olympic Games. Inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, the undulating roof sweeps up from the ground like a wave to fold over the building and define two separate pools.

It is very beautiful; sensual with a generosity of space. The pure and powerful form is conceptually flawless; it will be a favourite venue for Londoners for generations to come.

London Bridge Tower (The Shard) by Renzo Piano Building Workshop

1.2 million square feet of accommodation has been built on a small parcel of land directly next to one of London's major transport hubs. To make a tower on such a tight site a thing of great beauty is a rare achievement. Six uses occupy multiple floors: health clinic, offices, restaurants, hotel, residential apartments and public viewing gallery; to create a ‘vertical village’. The building is omnipresent in London and has added immeasurably to the city.

London School of Economics - Saw Swee Hock Student Centre by O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects

This is an object lesson in creating a surprising and startlingly original building on a difficult urban site. Every angled facet responds to the rights of light of its neighbours.  Formed as a continuous spiral rising upwards, the outer brick walls slope and twist, gouged with cuts and cracks that give light and form. The floors take up complex shapes, yet all the spaces feel natural and functional.  This is a building showing a high degree of craftsmanship.

Manchester School of Art by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The major refurbishment of a 1960s tower and the creation of a new building with open studios and workshops has been executed with great skill and innovation.  Design excellence has been coupled with a visionary brief calling for staff and students to break traditional course divisions and work across disciplines. This is a building where the exploration of design and creativity will flourish.

The shortlist features projects by architecture heavyweights, including previous RIBA Stirling Prize winners Zaha Hadid (MAXXI in Rome, 2010; Evelyn Grace Academy in London, 2011) and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (Accordia housing in Cambridge, 2008). Haworth Tompkins has previously been shortlisted (Young Vic Theatre in London, 2007), as have O’Donnell + Tuomey on four occasions (Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School, Dublin, 1999; Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 2005; An Gaeláras, Derry, Northern Ireland, 2011; The Lyric Theatre in Belfast, 2012).  This is the first year Mecanoo and Renzo Piano Building Workshop have been shortlisted for the prize.

The London School of Economics and Manchester School of Art illustrate the good health of the British higher education building projects. Both buildings serve the students brilliantly. The LSE building has created a pocket of visual drama and eccentricity in contrast to the grey education quarter in which it sits; the Manchester School of Art is a modern student factory – a hot house of creativity with a level of interaction between students of different disciplines never before achieved.

Both the Library of Birmingham and Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre have expertly replaced exisiting buildings, in turn winning over a community (which may or may not be resistant to change) to become a destination that entices that same community in. They are excellent examples of creating spaces worthy of immense civic pride.

The Shard and the London Aquatics Centre are great lessons in how to create a poetic relationship with the landscape - their shared ambition is to enhance the skyline in a picturesque way. The Aquatics Centre delivers the most sensuous architecture experience; with The Shard, the single most significant step forward on the London skyline since St Paul’s, partly so visible because of its beauty.

Speaking about the shortlist Stephen Hodder, RIBA President and the first ever winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize (1996), said:

“The RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the building that has made the biggest contribution to the evolution of architecture in a given year.

"Every one of the six shortlisted buildings shows what great public architecture can do: it can transcend mere construction to something quite poetic. The shortlist comprises no ordinary new swimming pool, office block, theatre, library or university – they are beautiful, inspiring and transformative new buildings that their communities can relish and be proud of.

"This RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist is sending out the clear message that great buildings don’t only need great architects and clients but they need the patronage of the community they have been designed to serve if they are to be truly successful.

"The shortlisted buildings are all major new additions to an already dense urban fabric in the cities they serve.  However, they are remarkably crafted buildings and the closer you look at their detail, both internally and externally, and their materiality, the more impressive they become. The RIBA Stirling Prize judges have the most unenviable task in having to pick one winner.”

The winner of the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on the evening of Thursday 16 October at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. For further information on the event

The 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize judges, who will visit the six shortlisted buildings and select the winner on 16 October, are:  Spencer de Grey – Chair (Foster and Partners), MJ Long (Long and Kentish architects),Cindy Walters (Walters and Cohen), Stephen Kieran (Kieran Timberlake) and Sir Timothy Sainsbury.

Previous winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize include: Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann (2013); Sainsbury Laboratory by Stanton Williams (2012); Evelyn Grace Academy (2011) and MAXXI Museum, Rome (2010) both by Zaha Hadid Architects; Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (2009); Accordia housing development by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/Alison Brooks Architects/Maccreanor Lavington (2008); The Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects (2007).



1.     For further press information please contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office –; or 020 7307 3813/07805 173681 

2.       Images are available via this link:

3.       The RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture award. Given to the architect of the building thought to be the most significant of the year for the evolution of architecture and the built environment, the RIBA Stirling Prize is judged on a range of criteria including design vision, innovation and originality, capacity to stimulate engage and delight occupants and visitors, accessibility and sustainability, how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction.

4.       The Architects’ Journal is media partner for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize

5.       The 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize is supported by Brockton Capital.

6.       Judges citations on each of the six shortlisted buildings follow: 

Everyman Theatre



Architect:                                            Haworth Tompkins

Client:                                                   The Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust

Contractor:                                         Gilbert-Ash

Structural Engineer:                        Alan Baxter & Associates

Services Engineer:                           Watermans Building Services

Contract Value:                                 £13.3m

Date of completion:                        October 2013

Gross internal area in sq m:         4300

The new Everyman feels like a found space. It draws on the themes and ideas of Haworth Tomkins’ previous theatre work at Royal Court and Young Vic. Here all is new-build, yet it has the ambience of an old building, in part down to the use of recycled and exposed brick in the major areas of auditorium, bars and circulation. This is a building that breathes quality in its choice of materials, in its lighting and its signage. Everything has been thought about over and over and the right decisions reached. The tour de force is the first floor bar, a piano nobile stretching across the front of the building. Tucked in behind is a nook of a writer’s room with the air of a gentlemen’s club. The auditorium, with its burnt orange upholstery, is a clever cross between Matcham and the cosy cinema feel of the original.

The old theatre, converted from a 19th Century chapel on one of the city’s most important streets, was one of the most cherished of Liverpool’s cultural assets.  It was though totally unsuited for productions and audiences in the 21st century.  Consequently, the challenge to build a new purpose-built theatre on the site of the original was a brave but key move by the client team.

In selecting Haworth Tompkins they found a partner who understood the essence of the organisation and its ambitions. Consequently over the past nine years they have worked closely together to deliver a building of outstanding quality that retains the unique values of the Everyman.

The new building includes a technically advanced and highly adaptable 400 seat theatre which exactly mirrors the shape of the original, smaller performance spaces, rehearsal room, a sumptuous green room, public foyer, café and bar along with supporting office and ancillary spaces. Back and front of house are turned out using the same materials and with the same attention to detail. Haworth Tompkins have created a building that instinctively you want to reach out and touch; its handrails, walls and exquisite purpose-built joinery are all equally tactile. The concrete is good but never precious. However none of the elements shouts out, together they simply add to the whole, amplifying this exceptional piece of architecture.

The most discussed (and locally loved) feature of the new Everyman is the etched metal brises soleil on the facade featuring 105 full-length cut-out figures based on photographs of Liverpudlians.

This is a building that will age gracefully, continually enriched by the patina of daily use. It will both reassure and delight its loyal audience and those discovering this gem for the first time. 

Library of Birmingham



Architect:                                            Mecanoo

Client:                                                   Birmingham City Council

Contractor:                                         Carillion Building West Midlands

Structural Engineer:                        Buro Happold

Services Engineer:                           Buro Happold

Contract Value:                                 £186,000,000

Date of completion:                        May 2013

Gross internal area in sq m:         35000

It takes good architects to give form to the political will and the City of Birmingham has appointed successive excellent firms to do so, first Rogers whose fine design was never realised, and latterly Mecanoo whose first major UK project this represents. Playing an important role in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, the new Library of Birmingham is an impressive and bold addition to the city, a truly public and civic building. It has set a precedent for the scale of the buildings on the square, which helps to animate the place and stipulate a sense of enclosure. For the city, this is a significant public sector investment, which has not only provided a new integrated public library but also helped to regenerate the city’s cultural heart and helped link the Westside to the city core. 

Its intriguing section connects the building’s internal atrium to the square outside, creating a number of levels where users can enjoy the spaces. The journey through the building reveals itself through an interlocking atrium, tying together a range of volumes and providing glimpses of natural light.

From the ‘Harry Potter’ rotunda to the ‘Willy Wonka’ style glass lift, not to mention the more pedestrian escalators, the library is a journey up through the five floors of the book rotunda which houses the reference library – akin to the British Museum Reading Room – to the archives placed counter-intuitively but successfully on the upper floors. This is a journey of discovery and fun for all ages and backgrounds. The library has bought millions of people into the city and demonstrated how powerful architecture can play a role in the lives of communities.

The interesting filigree screen on the elevations creates a strong sense of place and ever changing vistas from within. Externally, it is the signature of this landmark and lends grace to the otherwise box-like forms of the three stacked palazzos. It also reflects the heritage of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and plays out in shadows and reflections on the library’s walls and floors.

The elevated, landscaped gardens on the upper floors not only provide a sanctuary in an urban location but breath-taking views across the city.

The relationship to the Repertory Theatre including a 300-seat auditorium and reinstatement of the Shakespeare room are amongst some of the unique spaces in the new library complex.

The library is a world-class facility for a world-class city with formal and informal spaces for reading, relaxing, playing and participating in the programme of events. It has become a heart to the city’s cultural destination, transforming Centenary Square from an interim space to a vibrant city square. It has also changed the traditional perception of a library to one where families and readers can spend a whole day learning and engaging. The John Madin brutalist predecessor library will be much missed but its joyful 21st century replacement has already claimed its place in Brummies’ hearts.

London Aquatics Centre

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London


Architect:                                            Zaha Hadid Architects

Client:                                                   LOCOG / ODA

Contractor:                                         Balfour Beatty

Structural Engineer:                        Ove Arup & Partners

Services Engineer:                           Ove Arup & Partners

Contract Value:                                 confidential

Date of completion:                        03.03.12

Gross internal area in sq m:         N/A


At the Olympic Park ZHA designed for legacy a world-class building with a distinctive curvaceous form. Then they designed the removable ‘wings’ that accommodated the additional seating required by spectators during the Olympics. It is the subsequent clipping of the wings that has allowed the building, architecturally speaking, to fly free.

The concept was inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment in sympathy with the river landscape of the Olympic Park.  An undulating roof sweeps up from the ground like a wave folding over the building, defining the separate practice and performance-cum-diving pool halls. The main hall, with its acoustically treated timber ceiling, allows for normal conversation across the screeches of delighted swimmers.

Despite the unusually stringent demand for the building to work as both an Olympic venue and, in its purer form, a public swimming pool, the resulting Centre has proved successful in both scenarios. There were exceptionally complex site constraints: it was tightly bounded by a main railway line to the east, the Waterworks River to the west and underground power lines running the length of the site. The main pedestrian access route had to be via Stratford City Bridge, a new pedestrian route. The solution was to have a podium encasing the main pool hall, on axis, perpendicular to the bridge, off which is the entrance, with the training pools slotted under the bridge within the podium.

The building has three main components: a cast in-situ concrete podium; a  wide spanning steel roof, encased in timber louvres on its underbelly  and  aluminium cladding, with standing seams on top. Glazed facades infill between the two, with bronze coloured aluminium frames.

This building's sustainability credentials are inherent and exemplary; it achieved a BREEAM Innovation Credit for its unusual use of concrete mixes which far exceeded ODA targets. The detail of the strategy is thorough and complex. As examples, the design team maximised energy efficiencies including incorporating very high levels of insulation, a well-sealed envelope, low-velocity ventilation systems with highly efficient heat recovery and water-based heating systems with variable speed pumps. Both the temporary and the permanent condition were considered equally and the former was easily demountable and the materials chosen so they could be recycled - parts of the wings have already been rebuilt elsewhere as a training centre for teenagers.

The main pool is naturally lit. Mechanical systems have adaptable controls for maximum efficiencies in use and the building is connected to the district heating system. Aggregates and cement replacement material were recycled materials. Potable water demands were reduced by over 40% by reusing backwash in WCs and urinals; low-flow showers and basins deliver 35% savings. Rainwater harvesting provides irrigation for the green wall at the southern end of the building

Overall this is a very beautiful building; it is sensual in its form with a generosity of space. It works very practically and is well built with very high quality finishes. This is a great building of our times, its pure and powerful form is conceptually flawless; and undoubtedly it will be a favourite venue for Londoners for generations to come.

London Bridge Tower (The Shard)



Architect:                                            Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Client:                                                   London Bridge Quarter

Contractor:                                         MACE

Structural Engineer:                        WSP Cantor Seinuk

Services Engineer:                           Arup

Contract Value:                                 confidential

Date of completion:                        02.01.13

Gross internal area in sq m:         120,000

The Shard is omnipresent in London. If the architects had illustrated every view in which it stars, as part of the planning process, the resulting material would have been extensive.

To make a tower on such a tight site a thing of great beauty is a rare achievement. The architects have added immeasurably to its immediate environs and to London as a whole. Like the Gherkin, this is a tower that people who don’t generally care for modern architecture seem to like. It makes people talk about architecture. But there is much for architects to admire too: the way it meets the split ground level expressing its structure all the way; the way you keep seeing the structure from the inside of the building and the way the structure shines when it frames the views from the uppermost public platforms.

There cannot be a more compressed, nor exemplary, model for city intensification than this tower: 1.2 million square feet of accommodation built on a tiny parcel of land directly next to one of London's major transport hubs. It has six uses each occupying multiple floors: health clinic, offices, restaurants, hotel, residential apartments and public viewing gallery: a genuine vertical village. All this touches the ground effortlessly with offices and viewing gallery, the high-volume uses, approached directly from a podium facing London Bridge Station, and the rest from street level on the opposite side.

Its three great virtues are all related to its external appearance. Firstly the floor-plate depths are graded in relation to the uses they contain (offices need deeper floor plates than hotels and apartments) so that the building tapers elegantly. Moreover this elegance is always present no matter how much of the overall form is hidden by other buildings. Secondly with the perimeter modelled as eight distinct ‘shards’, the scale of the building is fragmented and light reflected in interesting ways – not least by dint of the way in which the angled glass reflects the ever-changing sky and not the static cityscape, lending a sense of lightness few other towers can claim.  Thirdly, understanding that there are many days when the London skyline reads only as a depressing grey silhouette, the architects have left a substantial part at the top open, adding further to the lightness even in these conditions, not unlike the Gothic spire of a German cathedral. Any doubts about this lack of resolution are dissipated when one considers the alternative: a re-working of the 1972 Transamerica pyramidal tower in San Francisco.

The assertions of its virtues can be tested by walking along the pavement in front of the Supreme Court in Parliament Square. If one looks through the gap between Big Ben and Portcullis House, a view subject to challenge in a recent Public Inquiry, the Shard appears next to the spires of the Palace of Westminster with the inevitability of an established and historic part of London's skyline.

London School of Economics - Saw Swee Hock Student Centre



Architect:                                            O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects

Client:                                                   London School of Economics and Political Science - Estates Division

Contractor:                                         Geoffrey Osborne

Structural Engineer:                        Horganlynch Consulting Engineers

Services Engineer:                           BDSP (company has since merged as Chapman BDSP)

Contract Value:                                 24,115,600

Date of completion:                        20.12.13

Gross internal area in sq m:         6100

In the midst of a complex medieval London street pattern O’Donnell and Tuomey have woven a little of their magic. This remarkable project is an object lesson in mobilising the limitations of a site into a startlingly original building which makes a massive contribution to its townscape. The architects started by taking the geometry of tight angles as the definition of a solid into which they gouged cuts and cracks that give light and form. Every angled facet responds to rights of lights of its neighbours. The momentum is generated in the surrounding streets and drawn into the spiral that rises through the whole height of the structure as a continuous internal street, taking the form of a generous stair that clambers its way around the core.  Outer walls slope and twist, floors take up complex non-orthogonal shapes, yet all the accommodation generated seems to be natural, functional and hugely enjoyable to use. The result is truly unexpected. It is fascinating to see a practice enlarging its areas of expertise in this way.

The bold red brick tower is made of not just any brick - there are 46 standard shape bricks, 127 special bricks out of a total of 175,000, and not a single cut brick.  This is achieved with walls that slope and become perforate to give shading and have angles that vary in every direction all suggesting a very considerable imaginative control.  The latticing lets in more light, lending it a Kahnian air. The windows use jatoba, a self-finished hardwood from Brazil and have a complexity of their own whereby many verticals are gathered together next to larger panes, the verticals indicating opening lights. The spiral plan functions as a continuous social space with a natural tendency to encourage interaction for students and staff. At the top and bottom of the system are two more conventional spiral staircases, one to the basements and the other to the highest part of the diminishing plan. In the basement, there is a large double-height club and bar space lit by borrowed daylight from street level.  The use of daylight, natural ventilation and many other details has given the design a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

The building is beautifully constructed in spite of the difficulties of being novated to the contractors.  To build a building like this required a high degree of craftsmanship and care, and one feels that this was achieved through the sheer willpower of the architects.  This is a building that has a striking and original appearance while at the same time fitting happily into its context.  Similarly, it has a complex and unusual plan form that accommodates functions with effortless ease.

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s work is always recognizable but ever developing: and full of architectural references: Kahn, Stirling and the Russian constructivists. They absorb all this and make buildings that are all their own and are much admired by their clients and all who use them.

Manchester School of Art


Architect:                                            Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Client:                                                   Manchester Metropolitan University

Contractor:                                         Morgan Sindall

Structural Engineer:                        Arup

Services Engineer:                           Arup

Contract Value:                                 £23.6m

Date of completion:                        April 2013

Gross internal area in sq m:         17,320

It feels as if you are entering a metropolitan art gallery rather than a university department. This is an atrium with real purpose: providing public (who are allowed in thus far) and other students with glimpses of works of art and their making. Different disciplines can see what their confreres are up to and are encouraged to mix and collaborate: graphic arts with fine arts, architecture with fashion, photography with jewellery.

This major refurbishment of the 1960s tower and new extension to the Manchester School of Art has been executed with great skill by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Design excellence has been coupled with the brief of a visionary client to break down the traditional art and design units, encouraging staff and students across disciplines to work together and explore the common ground between subjects. Jarvis Cocker, one of the myriad of art school trained musicians including Malcolm McLaren, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Ian Drury and Joe Strummer, and himself a graduate of the Central St Martin’s School, has said, ‘The experience of being at art school gave me a lot to draw on – Pulp’s Common People – is about (meeting and falling in love) there, but on a deeper level I was taught to think about things in a non-lateral way.’ Just so FCBS have thought about this building in a non-linear, in a vertical way. It will influence the design of all art schools and many other university buildings for years to come.

The welcoming ‘vertical gallery’ space is open to all, enabling students and visitors to perambulate up gently rising flying staircases. Behind the vertical element sits the ‘design shed’ where open studios, workshops and teaching spaces provide a wide range of spaces for learning.

The discreet security systems allow students to access studios without the need for endless turnstile systems that often plague such buildings.  Large custom-made hangar doors enable the ‘shed’ to open up to the public vertical space for exhibitions or other events. They are one of a number of innovative design solutions that have been cleverly incorporated throughout the scheme.

Client and Vice Chancellor Professor John Brooks has written, ‘Arts and culture have a vital role in the education of our young people and in the values of society. At a time when financial pressures can dominate decision making, it is vital that we have been able to take a long-term view about the critical importance of the Arts to our well-being and the stability of our society.’ This refreshing refusal either to bend down before the totem art for art’s sake or to accept that the decent provision for the arts is a luxury we can no longer afford has led to a great building.

This building is a catalyst for the exploration of design and creativity. As the school prospectus states, ‘Manchester School of Art believes an art school is more than just a place. It is a bridge between the acceptable and the possible, between what is and what if.’ They could be describing Feilden Clegg Bradley’s remarkable new building.


Posted on Thursday 17th July 2014