Where will your RIBA Awards journey lead?

Each year, architects across the UK enter projects of every type, scale and budget for the RIBA Awards. From this single entry process, the schemes enter the running for RIBA Regional, National and Special Awards. Six will be shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, and one will go all the way and be crowned the UK’s best. But what’s it like to win a RIBA Award, and what does success mean to our winners?

For Kanti Chhapi, from Stephen George + Partners, winning a 2017 RIBA East Midlands Award meant having his project recognised by peers as a 'peak standard' to aspire to. The winning project, Number One Westhill, joined a collection of buildings acknowledged by fellow architects as representing design excellence.

Number One Westhill, the 1920s house renovation by Stephen George + Partners awarded a 2017 RIBA East Midlands Award. Photograph Ryan Wicks.

For Josh McCosh, van Heyningen and Hayward Architects, winning a 2017 RIBA East Midlands Award for their Leicester Cathedral project was 'testament to the commitment shown by everybody involved – from client to individual artisan.'

The opportunity to recognise the key role of a good client is a particular feature of the RIBA Awards. The Stihl Treetop Walkway by Glenn Howells Architects' helped grow Westonbirt Arboretum's visitor numbers from 300,000 to 500,000. With new projects being planned on the back of this success story, the architect was able to show their appreciation to their client, the Forestry Commission, by nominating them for the 2017 RIBA Client of the Year Award.

The project scooped a RIBA South West Award and the Forestry Commission was named RIBA South West Client of the Year, as well as being shortlisted at a national level for RIBA Client of the Year. Glenn Howells and his client were invited to celebrate their success at both the RIBA South West Awards event in Bristol and the RIBA Stirling Prize awards event in London.

Leicester Cathedral, repositioned in a RIBA East Midlands Award winning project by van Heyningen and Hayward Architects. Photograph Thom Chesshyre.
Stihl Treetop Walkway by Glenn Howells Architects, winner of a RIBA South West Award 2017 and shortlisted for the RIBA Client of the Year Award. Photograph Rob Parrish.

Entering the RIBA Awards can be an important part of showing appreciation for team members at every level of a studio hierarchy. The regional Small Project of the Year accolade and the Stephen Lawrence Prize often feature emerging talent and young practitioners among their shortlists and winners.

In 2016, a team of recent graduates working at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios were shortlisted for the Stephen Lawrence Prize for The Observatory in Hampshire, a pivoting, timber studio designed for arts organisation SPUD.

The prize celebrates projects with a budget of less than £1m, allowing small-scale, creative projects to punch their weight alongside 'blockbuster' buildings with larger budgets.

The Observatory by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, winner of a 2016 RIBA South Award and shortlisted for the Stephen Lawrence Prize. Photograph Richard Battye.

For many architects, the most important aspect of winning a RIBA Award is getting their projects in front of potential clients. The national media coverage generated by the RIBA Stirling Prize, which has been broadcast live by the BBC every year since 2013, is a large part of this.

Paul Monaghan of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has talked of the 'huge confidence in the practice' that winning the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize for Burntwood School gave to their existing and new clients. The winning project kept good school design firmly on the national agenda, with Burntwood's Principal Helen Dorfman applauding the success of AHMM's approach.

Entries for the RIBA Awards 2018 close on 27 February, with 10% off entry fees until 13 February. You only have to enter once for the chance to win any of the relevant RIBA Regional, National or Special Awards.

Enter now to find out where your RIBA Awards journey could lead.

Burntwood School by AHMM, awarded a RIBA London Award, RIBA National Award and the RIBA Stirling Prize 2015. Photograph Rob Parrish.

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