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RIBA Stirling Prize

RIBA Stirling Prize 2021 winner

RIBA Stirling Prize 2021

The RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the UK’s best new building

RIBA Stirling Prize winner 2021: Kingston University London - Town House

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has named Kingston University London – Town House designed by Grafton Architects, as the winner of the 25th RIBA Stirling Prize

Watch a video of the winning building. 

 

A progressive new model for the design of higher education buildings, the dynamic student ‘Town House’ expertly captures the spirit of learning and the value of community cohesion.

Grafton Architects have designed a purposefully democratic and open space, as its name suggests: Town – referring to the building’s civic dimension, and House – reflecting a sense of home and belonging. Many of the students at Kingston are the first in their family to attend university and this building sends an important message to them, their educators and the local community, that this is a place where everyone is welcome and valued.

Set back from the street, the project extends the public realm, generously blurring its boundary with the pavement and inviting everyone in – students, locals and visitors alike. There are no barriers. A 200m long six-storey, deep colonnade offers shadow and shelter, with terraces and gardens above creating shelves of connected public space. The facades are permeable: open and transparent at the lower levels – revealing views to the passer-by of the engaging activities taking place inside – becoming more shaded at upper levels.

Equally open and spacious inside, users and visitors are greeted by the public forum, leading to an amphitheatre. From the ground floor, eyes are drawn up through the building – through voids and staircases – to complementing social and study spaces. Exemplary acoustic design enables the bustling public forum, quiet library, archive, dance studio and theatre to co-exist, and enrich the experience of the users.  

Generous volumes allow people, light and air to flow naturally through the building, which also uses a thermally-activated concrete frame to reduce operational energy use. This highly-adaptable building will stand the test of time and provide an inspiring environment for students, residents and visitors for years to come.

Speaking on behalf of the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize jury, Lord Norman Foster, said:

“Kingston University Town House is a theatre for life – a warehouse of ideas. It seamlessly brings together student and town communities, creating a progressive new model for higher education, well deserving of international acclaim and attention.

In this highly original work of architecture, quiet reading, loud performance, research and learning, can delightfully co-exist. That is no mean feat. Education must be our future – and this must be the future of education.”

Find out more about Kingston University London - Town House

Find out more about Grafton Architects in our RIBA Journal feature

Banner image credit: Ed Reeve 

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RIBA Stirling Prize 2021 jury

RIBA Stirling Prize 2021 jury
RIBA Stirling Prize 2021 jury: L-R Dame Phyllida Barlow, Norman Foster, Annalie Riches, Mina Hasman, Simon Allford

The jury's role was to visit each of the six buildings on the shortlist to decide the winner.

This year's members of the 2021 jury are: 

  • Lord Norman Foster (Chair)
  • Simon Allford (RIBA President)
  • Dame Phyllida Barlow (Lay Person)
  • Annalie Riches (2019 Stirling Prize winner)
  • Mina Hasman (Sustainability Expert)

Meet the 2021 jury

About the Stirling Prize

The RIBA Stirling Prize is judged against 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.

The RIBA Awards are the most rigorously judged prizes for architectural excellence in the UK, with the winning buildings then eligible for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. 

Born in 1996 out of its predecessor, The Building of the Year Award, The RIBA Stirling Prize is presented to RIBA Chartered Architects and International Fellows for buildings in the UK which have made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year.

The RIBA Stirling Prize is named after James Stirling. Stirling won the Royal Gold Medal in 1980 'in recognition of past achievements which exist in their own right, as well as the potential of unbuilt projects, both past and future, which are an inseparable part of the Stirling vocabulary'.

Often described as a 'prophet without honour in his own country', he did not live long enough to achieve the public recognition and success his peers achieved after his untimely death. He died, at the height of his powers, following a routine operation.

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