The annual prize celebrates the best of architecture in the UK – and six buildings are shortlisted
15 Clerkenwell Close, by Groupwork. Photograph: Tim Soar
Words by Francesca Perry
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the six buildings shortlisted for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize, the annual prize awarded to the UK’s best new building.
The six buildings include: 15 Clerkenwell Close, London (Groupwork); Cambridge Central Mosque (Marks Barfield Architects); Key Worker Housing in Eddington, Cambridge (Stanton Williams); Kingston University London – Town House (Grafton Architects); Tintagel Castle Footbridge for English Heritage, Cornwall (Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates); and Windermere Jetty Museum, Cumbria (Carmody Groarke).
Cambridge Central Mosque by Marks Barfield Architects. Photograph: Morley von Sternberg
15 Clerkenwell Close – a limestone apartment and office building – was designed by Groupwork (formerly Amin Taha Architects) in 2017. It soon faced a backlash from local planning authorities, however, which argued it should be demolished for apparently damaging the surrounding conservation area. In 2019, the architecture practice won the motion against demolishing the building; later that year, Taha spoke to former ICON editor Priya Khanchandani about the experience.
Key Worker Housing in Eddington, by Stanton Williams. Photograph: Jack Hobhouse
Marks Barfield’s Cambridge Central Mosque (2019) – which was featured in our Summer 2020 issue – is a modern urban mosque, built with a striking cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure in geometric form. Stanton Williams’ Key Worker Housing in Eddington (2019) is a brick-dominated series of 264 homes for University of Cambridge staff, featuring a network of interconnected courts and squares.
Kingston University London’s Town House by Pritzker Prize-winning Grafton Architects (2020) is a monumental student hub in Kingston town centre comprising study, performance and social spaces.
Kingston University London – Town House, by Grafton Architects. Photograph: Dennis Gilbert
Tintagel Castle Footbridge (2019), by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates, is a footbridge over a 58m-high drop between two cliffs on the Cornish coast, recreating the historic crossing from the mainland to the headland on which the medieval castle sits. In Cumbria, Carmody Groarke’s Windermere Jetty Museum (2019) is a cluster of shed-like buildings aside Lake Windermere house heritage boats and educational displays.
Tintagel Castle Footbridge, by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates. Photograph: Jim Holden
‘The 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist demonstrates the innovation and ambition that lies at the heart of exceptional architecture,’ says RIBA president Simon Allford. ‘The six projects vary tremendously in their location and use – but they are united in their ingenuity and creativity, their consideration of their local environment and historical context, and their use of high-quality materials.’
Windermere Jetty Museum by Carmody Groarke. Photograph: Christian Richters
It’s notable that all the shortlisted buildings are in England – particularly focused in southern England – overlooking some of the gems which have been built elsewhere in the nation. A wider array (and geographical spread) of buildings is celebrated in the RIBA Regional Awards, however.
The 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize winner will be announced on 14 October at Coventry Cathedral.