The Stirling Prize is one of the most prestigious of all architecture awards. Named for the great British architect James Stirling, the prize is given annually from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to a single building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture. The shortlist has just been announced.
Although the architects must be RIBA members to qualify (similar to the US' American Institute of Architects annual awards), the buildings themselves can be anywhere in the EU. For 2013, it just so happens that all the buildings on the shortlist are in the UK, meaning it was a very good year for British architecture, indeed.
Library of Birmingham | Mecanoo Architecten
"Playing an important role in Birmingham's Centenary Square, the new Library of Birmingham is an impressive and bold addition to the city, a truly public and civic building. It has set a precedent for the scale of the buildings on the square, which helps to animate the place and stipulate a sense of enclosure."
London Aquatics Centre | Zaha Hadid Architects
"Flexible buildings are generally dull; compromise means that none of the functions are properly served. At the Olympic Park ZHA designed for legacy a world-class building with a distinctive curvaceous form."
Everyman Theatre | Haworth Tompkins
"The most discussed (and locally loved) feature of the new Everyman is the etched metal brises soleil on the facade featuring 105 full-length cut-out figures based on photographs of Liverpudlians. Anywhere else this might be seen as patronising but this is Liverpool which loves to wear its heart on its sleeve."
London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre | O'Donnell & Twomey Architects
"The architects started by taking the geometry of tight angles as the definition of a solid into which they gouged cuts and cracks that give light and form. Every angled facet responds to rights of lights of its neighbours. The momentum is generated in the surrounding streets and drawn into the spiral that rises through the whole height of the structure as a continuous internal street, taking the form of a generous stair that clambers its way around the core."
London Bridge Tower/"The Shard" | Renzo Piano Building Workshop
"Like the Gherkin, this is a tower that people who don't generally care for modern architecture seem to like. It makes people talk about architecture, which can only be a good thing. But there is much for architects to admire too: the way it meets the split ground level expressing its structure all the way; the way you keep seeing the structure from the inside of the building and the way the structure shines when it frames the views from the uppermost public platforms."
Manchester School of Art | Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
"This major refurbishment of the 1960s tower and new extension to the Manchester School of Art has been executed with great skill by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Design excellence has been coupled with the brief of a visionary client to break down the traditional art and design units, encouraging staff and students across disciplines to work together and explore the common ground between subjects."