The Evelyn Grace Academy, a cutting-edge new secondary school in Brixton, south London by Zaha Hadid Architects has won the prestigious £20,000 (US$31,000) RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 for the best new European building built or designed in the United Kingdom.
This is the second year running that Zaha Hadid Architects have won the RIBA Stirling Prize; last year they won the award for their MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome; this year they have put the practice's formidable reputation to great use by breaking new ground in school design. Now in its 16th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is presented in association with The Architects Journal and Kingspan Benchmark.
The presentation of the UK's premier architectural award took place at a special ceremony on Saturday, October 1) at the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning (2001) Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham, and was televised the following day on BBC Two's The Culture Show.
A highly stylized zig-zag of steel and glass, the Evelyn Grace Academy is squeezed onto the tightest of urban sites (1.4 hectares - the average secondary school is 8/9 hectares). The architects received a complex brief: four schools under a single academy umbrella with the need to express both independence and unity. The architects were strongly encouraged by the client to 'think outside the box'. With such a small space and with sport being one of the Academy's 'special subjects' (each Academy school has one), the architects needed to be highly inventive.
They succeeded, for instance by cleverly inserting a 100m running track into the heart of the site taking pupils right up to the front door. By dramatically celebrating the school's specialism, the RIBA Stirling Prize judges noted 'this is a design that literally makes kids run to get into school in the morning'.
The Evelyn Grace Academy is the first school to win the RIBA Stirling Prize, with seven schools shortlisted in previous years. It is the first time that Zaha Hadid Architects have designed a school and their first large-scale project in the UK. Previously they designed a Maggie's Centre in Scotland and more recently they have completed the Riverside Museum in Glasgow and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics.
Speaking tonight, RIBA President Angela Brady, Chair of the judges, said:
'The Evelyn Grace Academy is an exceptional example of what can be achieved when we invest carefully in a well-designed new school building. The result - a highly imaginative, exciting Academy that shows the students, staff and local residents that they are valued - is what every school should and could be.
The unique design, expertly inserted into an extremely tight site, celebrates the school's sports specialism throughout its fabric, with drama and views of student participation at every contortion and turn. Evelyn Grace Academy is a very worthy winner of architecture's most prestigious award and I am delighted to present Zaha Hadid Architects with this accolade.'
The Evelyn Grace Academy is run by ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) Academy organization, a charity set up by Arpad 'Arki' Busson, the hedge-fund multimillionaire. ARK aims to offer exceptional opportunities to local children in inner cities with the aim of helping to close the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds.
Peter Walker, Principal of the Evelyn Grace Academy said:
'This visually stunning building makes a powerful statement to our students every day they attend school. As a new academy setting the highest expectations for all students, it is fitting that we have such an aspirational environment. The internal structure of the building supports the innovative nature of Evelyn Grace Academy’s small school system exceptionally well.'
Zaha Hadid said:
'It is very significant that our first project in London is the Evelyn Grace. Schools are among the first examples of architecture that everyone experiences and have a profound impact on all children as they grow up. I am delighted that the Evelyn Grace Academy has been so well received by all its students and staff.'
Evelyn Grace Academy was chosen from the following outstanding shortlisted entries:
RIBA President Angela Brady announced the winner, editor of The Architects' Journal Christine Murray awarded the £20,000 check and Peter Santo, Head of Benchmark presented the certificate to architects Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher and Lars Teichman, and school principal Peter Walker.
The 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize judges were RIBA President and Chair of the judges, Angela Brady; Sir Peter Cook - architect and academic, formerly of Royal Gold Medal winning Archigram; Hanif Kara - engineer, Adams Kara Taylor; Dan Pearson - landscape designer and RIBA Honorary Fellow and Alison Brooks - architect and winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize 2008 with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Maccreanor Lavington for the Accordia housing scheme.
The winners of the RIBA Lubetkin Prize and two special awards were also announced that evening:
The Met, a sixty-six story residential skyscraper in Bangkok, Thailand by WOHA architects won the prestigious RIBA Lubetkin Prize for the most outstanding work of international architecture outside the EU by a member of the RIBA.
St. Patrick's School Library and Music Room in north-west London by Coffey Architects won the RIBA’s 2011 Stephen Lawrence Prize. Set up in memory of Stephen Lawrence who was setting out on the road to becoming an architect when he was murdered in 1993 and funded by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, the prize rewards the best examples of projects that have a construction budget of less than £1 million and is intended to encourage fresh talent working with smaller budgets.
The Royal Shakespeare Company won the 2011 RIBA Client of the Year supported by the Bloxham Charitable Trust. The award recognizes the role good clients play in the delivery of fine architecture.
Project name: Evelyn Grace Academy
Address: Shakespeare Road, London SE24
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Client: ARK Schools
Contractor: Mace Plus
Structural Engineer: Arup
Contract value: £37.5m (US$58m)
Date of completion: 2010
Gross internal area: 10,745 sq m