A house, a distillery, a London train station, an opera house, a public housing complex and a new gallery nestled in the landscape: these are the six finalists of the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. The six projects selected were announced on 18 July by RIBA, but we will have to wait until autumn to find out who will follow in the footsteps of the Bloomberg HQ by Foster + Partners, winner of the 2018 edition.

The finalists of the RIBA Stirling Prize 2019

An extreme variety of functions and buildings characterises the most prestigious prize awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects: the RIBA Stirling Prize. One need only take a look at the winners from the last five years to get an idea of the extreme variety of the finest British architecture projects nominated for the award. In 2018, the winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize was the office building and European headquarters of the multinational Bloomberg designed by the firm Foster + Partners; in 2017, the restoration of a pier, Hastings Pier, by dRMM Architects; in 2016, the art gallery Newport Street Gallery, designed by Caruso St John Architects; in 2015, the campus of the Burntwood School in Wandsworth, South London, designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris; in 2014, the restoration of the historic Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, designed by Haworth Tompkins. So what does 2019 have in store for us? On 18 July, the list of the six finalists was published, but we will have to wait until autumn to find out who the new winner will be. Looking at the list of the six finalists, however, one significant aspect is certain: the incredible variety of the projects that characterises the award once more this year. This is truly one of the RIBA Stirling Prize’s strengths, a fact also emphasised by the president of RIBA, architect Ben Derbyshire.

An experimental zero-environmental-impact private home made almost entirely out of cork: the Cork House in Berkshire, designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton. A Scotch whisky distillery with a visitor centre, the Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, a dynamic, high-tech project with a green, undulating roof reminiscent of the surrounding hills.
London Bridge Station, a radical reconfiguration of one of London’s major transport hubs designed by Grimshaw Architects.

A contemporary opera house, Nevill Holt Opera, designed by Witherford Watson Mann Architects within a 17th-century building in Leicestershire.
The Weston Yorkshire Sculpture Park, designed by Feilden Fowles Architects, a new gallery immersed in the lush green landscape of Yorkshire.
The Goldsmith Street complex in Norwich, designed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley: 105 energy-efficient homes, all of which meet Passivhaus standards.

The six finalists of the RIBA Stirling Prize could hardly be more diverse in typology and scale. The president Ben Derbyshire highlights these important differences between the six candidates, but also notes the key elements that tie the six projects together, making them noteworthy architectures: “ground-breaking innovation, extraordinary creativity and the highest quality materials and detailing”. At a time when the UK is facing a severe housing crisis at the local level - the worst in generations, according to Ben Derbyshire - and we are faced with a global climate emergency, it is more urgent than ever to encourage projects which are ambitious, bold, innovative and competent.
Each of these six buildings,” continues the RIBA president, “overcomes the boundaries of architecture, improving upon what has been done in the past and providing solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time”.

(Agnese Bifulco)


Images courtesy of RIBA photo by:

Cork House © Matthew Barnett Howland, Ricky Jones.
Goldsmith Street © Tim Crocker
London Bridge Station © Paul Raftery
Macallan © Joas Souza, Mark Power
Nevill Holt Opera ©Hélène Binet
The Weston © Mikael Olsson, Peter Cook