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The RIBA Stirling prize shortlist has been released, with buildings from across the UK, from Cornwall to London to Cambridge. The RIBA Stirling prize is awarded to buildings that display excellence in design and function. The prize is considered the highest honour among any architecture awards in the United Kingdom. Each year, six buildings are chosen and shortlisted with only one being crowned the coveted winner. This year the shortlist consists of The Bloomberg, Bushey Cemetery, Chadwick Hall, New Tate St Ives, Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery and The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre.
The Bloomberg, London is designed by British international studio for architecture, Foster + Partners for client Bloomberg. This contemporary building is home to Bloomberg L. P’s European headquarters and offices. With a covered walkway around the buildings’ perimeter and several art pieces such as ‘The Vortex’, the design features inventive detail both in interior and exterior. The two buildings are connected by a bridge, creating a new street for public use. The Bloomberg also contains several restaurants. Despite its modern design, the Bloomberg fits in with its neighbouring buildings, which consist of old and classical styles, all of which was achieved through the careful designing and construction, proving how excellent the design quality is. With sustainable features such as rainwater being collected from the roof to supply the vacuum toilets and office floors that are lit up with 500,000 LEDs, the Bloomberg has achieved a 98.5% score with the BREEAM sustainability assessment method.
Architects Waugh Thistleton used a simplistic design for Bushey Cemetery, with limited materials used to reflect the Jewish communities’ burial traditions of using simple cardboard coffins and wearing plain clothes. Located in Hertfordshire with the client being The United Synagogue, each aspect of the buildings was carefully planned out with tradition and function considered, including the subtle low lighting to create a sense of peace and calm in the prayer halls. Many natural materials were used, such as solid oak. This was done to accompany the Jewish burial traditions of ‘returning to earth’. All aspects of the building have been carefully considered, making great use of the natural landscape surrounding the site. The gentle slope has been used in the prayer halls, showing visitors towards the graves. Alongside the minimalistic design of the buildings, the cemetery and prayer halls are surrounded by lush tree belts. The use of natural materials helps the buildings to fit in with the natural scenery, creating a further sense of Jewish burial tradition.
Chadwick Hall in Roehampton, London, was designed by Henley Halebrown for the University of Roehampton. The building which encompasses 210 en-suite student bedroom flats has a modern design while remaining simplistic. The low cost of the building is not at all reflected in either exterior or interior, with the interior rooms bright and inviting, and the dark brick and concrete exterior giving off hints of the perfect mix of Georgian architecture and modern design. The simple yet modern design makes Chadwick hall a welcoming and calm space. While designing the student flats, Henley Halebrown wanted to create a good setting for the students’ social life, placing the building around the sunken garden, a place that makes for a good gathering spot. Communal areas are arranged in locations that show fine views of either Richmond Park or the sunken garden, accompanied by wide windows to allow as much light in as possible.
New Tate St Ives
Located in Cornwall, the New Tate St Ives building was renovated in 2017 to nearly three times the size, making the New Tate St Ives the ideal location to enjoy art in. With a granite and glass ceiling, the interior is bright and relaxing. Though minimal in design, the smart use of natural light makes every room inviting. The new building offers a beautiful view of the coast from roof top viewing points, as well as far more space for new exhibitions. Functionality was also carefully considered, introducing a new picture store and workshop. All the floors are connected by a huge goods lift and a new public walkway connects the art gallery with the beach, as well as public car parking available at the top of the building. This art centre is easily accessible for the public, creating the perfect mix of functionality and beautiful design.
Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery
The designers behind Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery in Cambridge, MUMA LLP, show us how joy and practicality can be incorporated together to make this bright and inviting venue. Commissioned by the University of Cambridge, this building’s clever design makes room for many different uses. The versatile nature of this building allows for diverse uses such as a nursery, wedding venue, music concerts, funerals, political events, hobbies, exercise, local groups and children’s parties. Because of the number of different events this venue is suitable for, it is the perfect community centre. Even the interior itself is versatile, with individual rooms’ décor and furniture available to be shifted depending on the event needed for. For example, one of the halls can be a wedding venue or even a theatre, with a stage able to easily be put up or taken down. The sustainability of this building has been certified ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’ by the BREEAM standard. This is firstly since all material and technology is only used where it is needed and not used excessively. There are big hints of practicality; where small windows are needed, they are added in with appealing ways for the nursery such as shapes and constellations with the correct orientation. This shows not only the sustainability, but also the precise detail and care that was thought of when designing and constructing the nursery.
The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre
The unbeatable setting and bright design of this teaching facility makes this building by Niall McLaughlin Architects, with client Worcester College, warm and inviting. The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre gives an assured feeling of calm and grace, achieved from the elegant and open style the designers brought to it. With spaces such as the light auditorium, seminar rooms, a dance studio and ancillary facilities, easy access to a perfectly mown cricket pitch, peaceful gardens and a lake, as well as an amazing location right next to one of Oxford’s most historic colleges, The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre is the ideal place for academic studies of any kind. This building can either be a naturally well-lit area, or a darkened environment depending on what is required. A main high roof is the primary source of light, accompanied by tall windows on each wall.
We believe all the contenders are worthy to be shortlisted, but we feel The Bloomberg just pips the others to the post. We may be slightly biased being London-based ourselves, but we all agree that when building something new in a city as old as London, there has to be a good balance of modern and classic. The Bloomberg also chose not to build to the maximum allowable square footage, instead providing some much-needed civic space in the heart of the city. Its sustainability factor is praiseworthy, and the building’s façade is defined by a deep structural stone frame with inset bronze fins and serrated glass – anything bronze gets our thumbs up right away.