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Next steps for the 2021 and 2022 RIBA UK Awards

RIBA President Alan Jones sets out plans for the RIBA UK Awards 2021/2022

27 November 2020

The RIBA UK Awards are, in a “normal” year, an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary talents of our profession. 2020 has of course been anything but “normal”, and one of the many annual events and activities impacted by the pandemic - from the Turner Prize to Wimbledon - has unfortunately been our own awards programme.

With our judging initially postponed in March, when the country went into the first national lockdown, it became clear as the months progressed, that it was not going to be possible to continue. Our entrants and judges value the consistency and rigour of our judging which requires all winning projects to be visited in person. This is not something we were prepared to compromise on, so we announced an extended pause and committed to judging the projects next year.

So, what does the future hold? Well, I am pleased to confirm that the 2021 RIBA UK Awards (including Regional, National and the RIBA Stirling Prize) will be selected only from the shortlists for the 2020 RIBA Regional, RIAS and RSAW Awards. We will not be opening for new entries this year. This means we can focus all our efforts on judging and celebrating the exceptional projects that we were unable to visit this year. Whilst we couldn’t predict the events of 2020, we can certainly expect more volatility in 2021 and are committed to doing everything we can to do justice to this year’s entrants.

If you were thinking about entering a new project this year, for judging in 2021 – don’t worry. We’re extending eligibility, and will be delighted to consider it when we next open for entries- for the 2022 Awards.

We have to turn challenges into opportunities and that is exactly what we are doing. We have long been planning to change our judging criteria, so we can better appreciate the in-use performance of a completed project. I am really pleased that from the 2022 RIBA Awards, we will require all entries to have been in use for one year. This change will enable judges to assess buildings with even more detail on their performance, and more extensive client feedback. It will also add greater focus to sustainability criteria including the standards set out in the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.

In what has been a deeply challenging year for many in our profession, we are seizing this moment to make a positive change.

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