RIBA 2007

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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize is given for the RIBA Building of the Year. It is run in association with The Architects’ Journal and is presented to the architects of the building which has been the most significant for the evolution of architecture in the past year. Six buildings have been shortlisted for the 2007 RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture and the winner will receive a cheque for £20,000. All the buildings are unique on their own and show different approaches to contemporary design. The winner will be selected by a five-person Riba Stirling Prize jury and will be announced on 6 October, 2007 in London.

The jury for the 2007 Stirling Prize comprises:
Tom Bloxham MBE, chair of Urban Splash
Alaine Botton, author and philosopher
Louisa Hutton, architect
Kieran Long, Editor of The Architects’ Journal
Sunand Prasad, architect and RIBA President-Elect

America’s Cup Building – Valencia, Spain
Architect: David Chipperfield Architects
Client: Consorcio Valencia 2007

The building and park are the social focal point for the America’s Cup, the world’s premier sailing racing competition, staged in Europe for the first time in over 150 years, and the centrepiece of the re-organised old industrial port of Valencia.

The building is a stacked concrete structure with white steel trim; a ceiling of white metal panels; external floors of solid timber, and internal floors of white resin. It is a sporty and nautical building, very light on its feet and thoroughly appropriate to its function.

Casa da Musica – Porto, Portugal
Architect: Office for Metropolitan Architecture with Arup-AFA
Client: Paulo Sarmento e Cunha

The Casa da Musica concert hall is a building full of scenographic moments and ironic gestures. A series of spaces, sequences and staircases negotiate their way around the auditorium. Aluminium-clad steps rise and turn, following the beautifully made concrete shell – the space sometimes soaring up to the roof, crossed by the forms of smaller rooms above.

This is a well-made building which is intriguing, disquieting and dynamic. It provides acoustically excellent spaces for the performance of all kinds of music, and fulfils another contemporary role as a strange, enigmatic and compelling object in the urban form of the city of Porto.

Dresden Station Redevelopment – Dresden, Germany
Architect: Foster + Partners
Client: Deutsche Bahn AG

Foster + Partners won this competition on the strength of their proposal to re-roof the damaged late nineteenth century train shed with a lightweight fabric roof, instead of reproducing the heavy timber and glass roof that had previously existed. This allowed a light touch to the repair of the steelwork, as well as providing 13% more natural light. The re-glazing and plaster stripping to reveal the brick walls are successful. The removal of later elevation alterations and ornamental adornments are nicely judged.

Museum of Modern Literature – Marbach, Germany
Architect: David Chipperfield Architects
Client: Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach

Following re-unification, texts of German authors previously dispersed to east and west have been brought together in this new museum. The entrance sequence is brilliant. The visitor crosses an open terrace overlooking the valley, then negotiates a series of shallow steps to enter through giant hardwood doors. A staircase descends to the collections with their required diminishing light levels. The route concludes in the permanent collection. Here glass cases, containing original manuscripts, form a magical flickering landscape.

There are many things to praise about this building – the architect’s control and discrimination in the choice of materials has by now become a signature – but above all it is in the handling of the ‘difficult whole’ that the building excels.

The Savill Building – Windsor
Architect: Glenn Howells Architects
Client: The Crown Estate

The Savill Building takes the form of a dramatic gridshell structure made from timber from Windsor Park in which it sits. This innovative use of traditional materials means that it harmonises well with a skyline of mature trees, as well as being an object of great beauty and grace in its own right.

Young Vic Theatre – London
Architect: Haworth Tompkins
Client: The Young Vic Theatre Company

The Cut is a cheerfully scruffy part of south London into which, in the 1970s, architect Bill Howell introduced the Young Vic at a cost of a mere £60,000. Haworth Tomkins have remained true to the ad-hoc aesthetic original, painstakingly reconstructed to satisfy new technical requirements yet retain the audience/performer relationship that distinguished its predecessor.

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