Burntwood School, a large comprehensive girls’ school in Wandsworth, London by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2015 for the UK’s best new building. Now in its 20th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize, sponsored by Almacantar, is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize.

AHMM’s transformation of Burntwood School reimagines a 1950’s modernist secondary school campus for 2000 girls and 200 staff. The architects created six new faculty buildings and two large cultural buildings linking original buildings by renowned 1950s/1960s architect Sir Leslie Martin. Every building is full of light and air with double height spaces at the end of each corridor to increase natural daylight and create well-framed views. It offers a range of teaching spaces from conventional classrooms to interactive open spaces. Already a very sculptural building, AHMM worked closely with an artist to use large, colourful murals throughout the buildings – cleverly combining signposting with modern art. 

Comments from the judges:
“Burntwood School is the clear winner of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize. It is the most accomplished of the six shortlisted buildings because it demonstrates the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society.

It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering. It is a genuine collaborative project. There was a wonderful working relationship between the head teacher and the architect: a true partnership of equals.

Speaking at the award ceremony, RIBA President Jane Duncan said:
“Burntwood School shows us how superb school design can be at the heart of raising our children's educational enjoyment and achievement. Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, experienced school architects, have created a stunning campus. They have produced delightful, resourceful and energy efficient buildings that will benefit the whole community in the long term. With the UK facing a huge shortage of school places, it is vital we learn lessons from Burntwood. I am delighted to present architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris with the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize.”

Paul Monaghan, Director, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris said:
“Schools can and should be more than just practical, functional buildings – they need to elevate the aspirations of children, teachers and the wider community. Good school design makes a difference to the way students value themselves and their education, and we hope that Burntwood winning the RIBA Stirling Prize shows that this is worth investing in.”

Photographer: Rob Parrish

Meet The Judges


Peter Clegg established FCBStudios with Richard Feilden in 1978. Regarded as a key pioneer in environmental design, he has more than 30 years’ experience in low-energy architecture and is actively involved in research, design and education. Peter works primarily in the education and cultural sectors. He has led projects at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, London’s Southbank Centre, Brighton Dome and the Leventis Gallery in Cyprus, as well as many schools and higher education projects. He has been Chair of the RIBA Awards Group, the South West Design Review Panel, holds a professorship at Bath University, and in 2009 was made a Royal Designer for Industry.

Meet The Judges


Rory is an award-winning journalist and critic and editor of the Architects’ Journal. Before his career in journalism, Rory studied architecture at the University of Strathclyde, worked in practice in Glasgow, Liege and Istanbul, and as a designer in the video games industry. He also led a first-year design studio at Strathclyde University for two years and today is a guest critic at a number of UK and Irish universities. Rory is a frequent contributor to newspaper, radio and television features with an architectural focus and regularly speaks at industry events.

Meet The Judges


Theresa Sackler was a primary school teacher in London for seven years. She had three children with her late husband, Dr Mortimer D Sackler, KBE. Theresa serves on the Boards of several family pharmaceutical companies; and is a Trustee of The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation; The Sackler Trust; Capital City Academy inBrent; Victoria and Albert Museum; and Tate Foundation. She was presented with the 2011 Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy, in recognition of her contribution to the nation’s cultural life.

Meet The Judges


Steve Tompkins is Director of Haworth Tompkins and has led all the studio’s performance related projects. These include the Royal Court, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the Bath Egg, the Oxford North Wall, the Bush, the Young Vic, Snape Maltings, Donmar Dryden Street, Chichester Festival Theatre, the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Everyman Theatre in Liverpool and the recent regeneration of the National Theatre on London’s South Bank, which was ‘midlisted’ for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize.

Meet The Judges


Jane Duncan was recently elected as the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), a position previously held by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Sir Basil Spence among others. Trained at the Bartlett UCL, Jane set up Jane Duncan Architects in 1992. The award-winning practice, based in Buckinghamshire, employs 17 architects and interior designers. She has been a small practice champion at RIBA, and for six years was Vice President Practice and Profession, and RIBA Board member. Since 2013 she was also the RIBA’s Equality and Diversity champion




Bold, characterful new campus buildings with light-filled rooms and corridors add to a sense of this being a very collegiate school.


by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Dignified new 13-home Peabody apartment building, with refined proportions and details.

Darbishire Place

by Niall McLaughlin Architects

Modest, low building that gathers a sequence of domestic-scaled spaces. Visitors enter via a quiet arrival court, defined by the low walls and lime trees. At once, a sense of dignity and calm is encountered.


by Reiach and Hall Architects

New luxury housing towers with exo-skeleton and external lifts on London’s South Bank - a well-mannered example of a structurally expressive architecture.


by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this delightful building houses the university library and departments of Architecture, Landscape and Arts.

University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building

by heneghan peng architects

Extension to the 19th century Whitworth Gallery - carefully crafted spaces emerge seamlessly from the existing as an integral yet individualistic part of the whole assembly.




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Centenary Building, University of Salford by Hodder associates1996 Winner

Looking back, Stephen Hodder of winning firm Hodder Associates, said: ‘Winning the Stirling Prize was amazing for the practice, but possibly it did come too early. Suddenly we were competing with the big boys like Hopkins at Nottingham University and MacCormac at Coventry. And we weren’t really ready. In many ways it might have been better to win it later when the prize itself had grown in status. Still, winning the first ever Stirling Prize was very special indeed for us.’


Music School, Stuttgart by JAMES STIRLING, MICHAEL WILFORD & ASSOCIATES1997 Winner

The Music School at Stuttgart was the last building that Sir James Stirling worked on before his death in 1992. The designs were completed by his partner Michael Wilford and other members of the partnership. When Wilford accepted the award in November 1997 he brandished the trophy and declared: ‘This is for Jim’.


American Air Museum, Duxford by Foster + Partners 1998 Winner

The judges said of the museum, ‘We thought the Foster Museum was a very special building and yet, unusually perhaps for Foster’s, almost self-effacing. It has a quality beyond that of simply being a museum; it is a memorial to the American Air Force in the Second World War. The concrete roof structure conveys a feeling of compression, which emphasises the power of a simple idea. This is definitely a ‘less is more’ building.’


NatWest Media Centre, Lord’s, London by Future Systems 1999 Winner

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. 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.’


Peckham Library and Media Centre, London by Alsop & Störmer 2000 Winner

At a small cost, this L-shaped box of copper and coloured glass transformed this part of an underprivileged borough. Turner-Prize-winning artist Tracey Emin, one of the Stirling judges, spent 12 years of her life in Peckham and was pleased to see money being spent here at last. She liked it because it didn’t feel like a library and she particularly liked the pods.


Magna, Rotherham by Wilkinson Eyre Architects 2001 Winner

Wilkinson Eyre Architects transformed this former steelworks in Rotherham into a science adventure centre. The black painted exterior was no preparation for the interior, a dramatic and colourful display, telling the story of steel. As it is, the exterior is remarkably little changed from the time when this was the most productive steelworks in the country.

Magna was the venue for the 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize Dinner.


Millennium Bridge, Gateshead by Wilkinson Eyre Architects 2002 Winner

The structure was built in sections in Bolton, assembled at Wallsend and shipped upstream and dropped into place on its concrete abutments by a giant crane to within a tolerance of one millimetre. One false move could have wiped out the thousands watching the procedure on either bank. In choosing the Millennium Bridge as the winner, the judges described it as architecture and engineering in close harmony.


Laban, London by Herzog & de Meuron 2003 Winner

Novelist Julian Barnes summed up the feelings of the Stirling jury: ‘It hits you straight between the eyes as soon as you get there. It has the same movement, youth, agility, pizzazz, front to it that its students have – it’s very seductive. The immediate impact on everyone in the bus as we arrived was to go “wow”’. 


30 St Mary Axe, London by Foster + Partners 2004 Winner

Clients Swiss Re wanted a landmark building and they certainly got it from Foster and Partners, but they got more than just a shiny new logo for their previously little known re-insurance business.

They also got a building loved by Londoners – the 40-storey tapering skyscraper became a popular icon on the city skyline.

This was the first office building to win the RIBA Stirling Prize and the first to be voted for unanimously by the Stirling judges.


The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh by EMBT/RMJM 2005 Winner

The Stirling judges were almost unanimous in their praise for the building. Charles Jencks said, ‘This building explores new territory for Scottish identity and for architecture. In the era of the iconic building, it creates an iconology of references to nature and the locale, using complex messages as a substitute for the one-liner.

Judge Piers Gough said, ‘…This is a passionate industry, where the architects bring to it poetry, beauty, magnificence and that’s of course what the Scottish Parliament has’.


New Area Terminal, Barajas Airport, Madrid by rogers stirk harbour + partners with Estudio Lamela 2006 Winner

The building of Barajas Airport presents a straightforward linear diagram, in the form of a clear sequence of spectacular spaces for both departing and arriving passengers. Graduated colour is used for wayfinding – your boarding pass is marked with a colour and your route is instantly apparent as red gives way toorange, orange to yellow, yellow to green and green to blue. This device is carried through to the external structure, giving the whole building a joyful exuberance.


Museum of Modern Literature, Marbach am Neckar by David Chipperfield Architects 2007 Winner

This is a building that is simultaneously rich and restrained, a trick that Chipperfield pulls off as well as any architect working today. To create an environment that would draw people to look at books and manuscripts that they cannot read more than a page or two of (except by arrangement) was a tough brief. Chipperfield responded by making a building that itself made up half of the visitor experience; it is if not a temple then a shrine to the soul of a literate nation. 


Accordia, Cambridge by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects 2008 Winner

Accordia, the judges felt, marked a shift in British housing, sending a message that good housing matters as the place where people’s lives and their attitudes to society are shaped to an industry that had for too long been anti-design and to politicians who had regarded housing in terms of targets to be achieved. Accordia demonstrates that British cities need more of a masterplan, a collaborative approach and an eye for both the detail and the big picture in landscape and architecture. 


Maggie’s London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners 2009 Winner

Conceived as a two-storey pavilion, the architects sheltered the centre from its harsh surroundings with a thick and cheerful orange masonry wall that also serves as a backdrop for carefully planted tree groves and gardens. Its positive spirit is signaled by a roof canopy that over-sails its many intimate internal gardens and courtyards.


MAXXI, Rome by Zaha Hadid Architects 2010 Winner

This was a mature piece of architecture, a distillation of years of experimentation, only a fraction of which has been built. It is the quintessence of Zaha’s constant attempt to create a landscape, a series of cavernous spaces drawn with a free, roving line. The resulting piece gives the visitor a sense of exploration.


Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton by Zaha Hadid Architects 2011 Winner

Zaha Hadid said, ‘It is very significant that our first project in London is the Evelyn Grace. Schools are among the first examples of architecture that everyone experiences and have a profound impact on all children as they grow up. I am delighted that the Evelyn Grace Academy has been so well received by all its students and staff’.


Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge by Stanton Williams 2012 Winner

Stanton Williams’ Sainsbury Laboratory won the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize.The building is situated on the northern edge of the University of Cambridge’s Botanic Gardens.

This building is an exciting new typology, with spaces for research juxtaposed with those for education, the private and the public and the highly-technological nurture of nature with the simple enjoyment of an extended botanic garden.


Astley Castle, Warwickshire by Witherford Watson Mann Architects 2013 Winner

This sensitive scheme places the new building at the heart of the old, demonstrating creativity, preservation and conservation.

In a 12th century fortified manor, further damaged by fire in 1978, the architects have created a new house that allows Landmark Trust guests to experience life in a near thousand-year-old castle with distinctly 21st century mod cons.


Everyman Theatre, Liverpool by Haworth Tompkins 2014 Winner

Haworth Tompkins 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. 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. 


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Sir James Stirling is one of those architects whose influence and importance is far greater than the built work.

Working in partnership with James Gowan, he produced in the Leicester Engineering Building - one of the seminal buildings of the century. With complex geometries and a revolutionary use of materials, the building pre-figured some very 21st century approaches. The 'red-brick experiments', as he termed them, continued with the History Faculty Building for the University of Cambridge and the Florey Building for Oxford University. He then changed tack and began to explore pre-fabrication with the Olivetti Training School and the housing at Runcorn New Town.