Urban Fold

Surprise Winner of Britain's Top Architecture Prize

This past weekend, the Sainsbury Laboratory, by architects Stanton Williams, beat out favorites such as the Olympic Stadium and the Hepworth Gallery to win the Stirling Prize. Oliver Wainwright discusses why the jury made the right pick.

Awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Stirling Prize is the pinnacle of achievement for British architecture. This year's winner - "the swish Rolls Royce of science laboratories" - was a dark horse, favored by neither critics nor bookies. 

Dedicated to botanical studies, and located in a site with "a long history as a cradle of botanical research," the Sainsbury Laboratory, "is entirely unlike most research buildings, a far cry from the usual warrens of endless corridors and closed doors behind which new discoveries are squirreled away," says Wainwight. "It is hoped that this open layout will change the way of working, fostering a more collaborative approach – and although only half-occupied so far, it seems to be working well."

"In her summing up, Stirling judge Joanna van Heyningen described the importance of this project as 'the lifting of a building type that could have been utilitarian into a sublime piece of calm and beautiful architecture'. And perhaps that is enough to make it a winner."

 

Full Story: Why the Sainsbury Laboratory deserved to win the Stirling prize

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