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RIBA Charles Jencks Award 2016 winner

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today (21 September 2016) announced Níall McLaughlin, founder of Níall McLaughlin Architects, as winner of the 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award.

The award is given to an individual or practice that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture. It will be presented on Tuesday 25 October at the RIBA in London, where the winner will also give a public lecture chaired by Charles Jencks.

The judging panel for the 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award consisted of Charles Jencks (landscape designer, architectural theorist and writer), RIBA President Jane Duncan, Lily Jencks (Director, Lily Jencks Studio and JencksSquared), Deyan Sudjic (Director, Design Museum) and Brett Steele (Director, Architectural Association), and was chaired by David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education).

RIBA President Jane Duncan said:

“Níall’s body of work exemplifies the spirit of this award, which recognises the ability to seamlessly and in this case, beautifully, build theory into one’s practice. I am in awe of the materiality and the craftsmanship, of the dedication, the collaborative relationships and the contextual sensitivity with which Níall’s buildings are created, all of which make him a most-deserving winner of the 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award.”

Speaking about Níall McLaughlin, Charles Jencks said:

“Níall McLaughlin is a great inspiration for architects today, especially the young, because of his masterful skill in drawing from all traditions – classicism, modernism, postmodernism. All the “isms” are under his belt, not on his back, and he extends them all through the commitment to architecture as an art and professional practice.”

On winning the 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award, Níall McLaughlin said:

“I am honoured to receive the RIBA Charles Jencks Award; particularly given its special emphasis on a simultaneous engagement with theory and practice. For me, architectural practice includes drawing, writing and building as interlinked activities. It is a continual ferrying between an engagement in the natural processes required to bring something reliable and concrete into being, and the need to clear a space for the expression of doubt, possibility and a half-glimpsed ideal. I acknowledge the distinguished list of previous winners of this award; and I am very grateful for the recognition.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information and images contact Callum Reilly 020 7307 3757
  2. Biography of Níall McLaughlin:
    Níall McLaughlin was born in Geneva in 1962. He was educated in Dublin and received his architectural qualifications from University College Dublin in 1984. He worked for Scott Tallon Walker in Dublin and London between 1984 and 1989.

    Níall established his practice in London in 1990. Níall McLaughlin Architects is now a studio of around 30 architects based in Camden, London. Significant projects include the Bandstand (Bexhill 2001), Pier Cafe (Deal 2006), Dirk Cove House (Cork 2004), ARC Building (Hull 2005), Goleen House (Cork 2008), Bishop Edward King Chapel (Oxford 2013), Olympic Athletes' Housing (London 2012), Peabody Housing (Whitechapel 2015), and Somerville Student Residence (Oxford 2010). He is currently working on museum designs for the Natural History Museum in London and Auckland Castle in Durham.

    Níall won Young British Architect of the Year in 1998. He was named as one of the BBC's Rising Stars in 2001 and his work represented Britain in a US exhibition Gritty Brits at the Carnegie Mellon Museum. Niall was made a Honorary Royal Designer for Industry (2015) and he represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale Architettura 2016. Niall is Professor of Architectural Practice at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. He was a visiting professor at the University of California Los Angeles from 2012-2013, and was appointed Lord Norman Foster Visiting Professor of Architecture at Yale for 2014-2015. Níall lives in London with his wife Mary, son Diarmaid and daughter Iseult.
  3. Citation by Charles Jencks:
    “Níall McLaughlin gives the profession of architecture a good name. Staying within the confines of a tradition – broadly put – between classicism and modernism, he is nonetheless not worried about changing both by hybridising them, nor frightened of being called postmodern. In the time honoured manner of Mozart, he takes well known themes and tropes – the classical repertoire of the five platonic solids and their cognate modes (ellipse, parabola, pointed arch and so on) – and plays new games with them.

    This Free Style Classicism of vigour and light is the Old Game as defined by Lutyens, but it is orchestrated very lightly without being etiolated. His structural logic carried out with their repetitive geometries creates a new kind of Optical Architecture. The Bishop Edward King Chapel has its primitive strength, delicacy and content -- virtues not usually found together – and ones reminiscent of James Stirling.

    His Alzheimer’s Centre in Dublin is one of the most subtle and appropriate designs for a sensitive building task I know. It stems from long careful research on the affliction, and was reinterpreted for this year’s Venice Biennale in his installation ‘Losing Myself’. McLaughlin’s planning and city design are equally based in particular and local research.

    Materiality, geometry, light, metaphor, abstractions, ornament and elegance are the obvious qualities. Quotations and iconic expression are sometimes prominent, and unembarrassed, unlike much other apologetic work today. Direct and bold, McLaughlin will even use Neo-Grec Horses as mass-produced panels for Olympic Housing, and not be accused of pastiche. Obviously he has a strong enough belief in eclectic practice to overcome the usual taboos that straightjacket architects.”
  4. The RIBA Charles Jencks Award is awarded annually to an individual (or practice) that has recently made a major contribution simultaneously to the theory and practice of architecture. Winners are invited to deliver a lecture at the RIBA. Charles Jencks is a landscape designer, architectural theorist and writer, best known for his writing on post-modern architecture and as Trustee and Co-founder of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres with Maggie Keswick.
  5. The Royal Institute of British Architects (@RIBA) is a global professional membership body driving excellence in architecture. We serve our members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment

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