Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Student townhouse wins Stirling Prize for the best new building

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A building dubbed a “progressive new model” for higher education has been recognized by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as the winner of the 25th RIBA Stirling Prize.

Kingston University London – Town House, designed by Grafton Architects of Dublin, won the UK’s highest architectural award from a shortlist of six.

The RIBA described the building as a “purposefully democratic and open space” that felt “welcomed and valued” by university students, many of whom are the first in their families to enroll for higher education.

The building is set back from the street, but is intended to expand the public space, “generously blur the border to the sidewalk and invite everyone”. A 200 m long, six-storey, deep colonnade is combined with the terraces and gardens above to form “shelves of networked public space”.

It also has social and study spaces that coexist throughout the building, including a library, archive, dance studio, and theater.

On behalf of the jury of the RIBA Stirling Prize 2021, Lord Norman Foster said: “The Town House at Kingston University is a theater for life – a warehouse full of ideas. It seamlessly brings student and urban communities together, creating an advanced new model for higher education that deserves international recognition and attention.

“In this highly original work of architecture, quiet reading, loud performance, research and learning can wonderfully coexist. It’s not an easy task. Education has to be our future – and that has to be the future of education. ”

Grafton Architects, whose Stirling Award winning site was their first built project in the UK, said in a statement: “We envisioned a place where students would feel at home.

“This building is about people, interaction, light, possibilities. It’s about connecting with the community, the passer-by, an invitation to cross the threshold; a three-dimensional framework with layers of silence and layers of clay. Space, volume and light are the organizers.

“The building edges are not borders, but active meeting rooms, terraces, galleries. Being outside in the open air is always just a few steps away.

“Kingston University gave us this educational vision, which we translated into a spatial open matrix. We are very pleased that Kingston Town House has won the prestigious Stirling Prize. “

Kingston University Vice Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said, “We had an incredibly ambitious task – to create a space for students to benefit from, a library that inspires learning, dance studios and a softening facility the threshold between dress and city.

“Grafton Architects delivered such an innovative program. The result is a stunning new build for Kingston University.

“The Stirling Prize validates Town House as a world-class building and thus a suitable foil for the aspirations of our students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend university.

“It is invigorating to experience the creativity, collaboration and learning together that this open, inviting space encourages.

“Our students have accepted Town House and enjoyed the opportunity to find their place in it and make the many rooms their own.

“By working with an architectural firm from Grafton Architects, we gained extensive expertise and international reputation building their first building in the UK, which enabled us to achieve our bold vision for Town House – an accomplishment that our students benefit from , Employees and the wider community are really convinced. “Proud.”

Kingston University London – Town House added to shortlist of six: Cambridge Central Mosque by Marks Barfield Architects; 15 Clerkenwell Close, London by GROUP WORK; Housing for Key Workers – Eddington, Cambridge by Stanton Williams; Tintagel Castle Footbridge for English Heritage, Cornwall by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates; and Windermere Jetty Museum, Cumbria by Carmody Groarke.

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