David Sillito reports on the shortlisted buildings - including the winner - for this year's RIBA Stirling Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in architecture.
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and other contenders
for the the prestigious design award
the Royal Institute of British
Architects Stirling Prize 2017.
Six startling buildings, and behind
each one, the story of people,
problems and some beautiful
solutions. All competing for the
biggest prize in British
architecture. The Stirling Prize.
What are you looking for?
looking for the very highest level
of architectural achievement. What
we're doing here is celebrating
Civitas, the idea that cities have a
role in bringing together the
social, economic and cultural
well-being of their citizens, and I
think these buildings, this short
list, really does I think mark out
our contribution to that territory.
Look at that! City of dreams.
like walking into the gates of
It looks seriously so dope. It looks
And its tremendous fun,
it's like a haven of quietness and
freedom and madness. It's just
brilliant, for me it's excellent.
I think what's unique
about this building is it a
strikingly modern building in a very
sensitive conservation environment.
I love this building because it
reflects so many elements of the
When the fire
happened, people were so devastated,
people just felt like they had to do
something to help.
nice. There is a touch of the
English country cottage garden about
all of this, the wickerwork, the old
handles, but looks can be deceiving,
because this is actually a very
modern brick built block of flats.
But inside, there is a surprise,
because this is one of six buildings
nominated for this year's Stirling
building of the year. And over the
next half an hour, we will be
looking at all of them and working
at quite why they have been
nominated, at the end, we will find
out who has won. But first, a look
at a much loved building, one that
needs to be reinvented for the
21st-century, but has the last few
years had a habit of burning down.
It gets you in here. You just think,
You were here when it burnt
People that had never spoken to
before were stopping me to talk
Pier, and every body was devastated.
It was quite frightening to think
how people would come back from
Did you think it was all over?
Idea to, but actually it was the
The Victorian pier, a part
of the seaside. But the history of
the British peer is all too often a
history of recurring disaster.
Scattered timbers, all the remains
of Worthing Pier.
My parents met in the ballroom on
the pier, so I class myself as a
And this is where the
pier ballroom used to be.
know how this works. You need a man
as well, you see.
You want me to
waltz with you, don't you? I don't
think we are going to make Strictly,
think we are going to make Strictly,
I didn't see it at the time,
I saw it the next day when it was
smoking and smouldering, and you
just think, why? Very emotional. And
to think that it happened, but in
some ways, I think it was a blessing
in disguise, because we've been able
to go forward with this beautiful
structure, and I'm not sure whether
if it hadn't been for the fire that
we would have come this far.
years on, Jill and thousands of
others in the town now own the pier,
and have overseen the reinvention of
an old friend. This curtain of glass
finally gives the people of Hastings
a panoramic view out to sea. The
woodwork here is still the original
timber, there are still some scorch
marks. But the most important
innovation is this. Nothing. What
they chose not to build. The empty
space. There is no end of the pier.
Building a pier, it's a bit of a mad
idea, isn't it?
It's bonkers, yes.
And that's what's so brilliant about
it, is nobody in their right mind
would build a pier out of a material
which is going to be dissolved where
You are fighting a losing
Absolutely, and we
will need to keep on replacing parts
everyday. It gets worn, it gets worn
away. We didn't have enough money
during the reconstruction to replace
everything, so we are constantly
repairing, tidying up nuts and
bolts. Nowadays you would build it
out of concrete and steel.
You're going to put your finger on
the one thing that makes it so
special, the design, what would it
Space. You don't get a vision of
the pier until you get out the far
end, and you see this horizon to
horizon, and you say, now I get it.
You look at it from above and you
say, so what? You get out there and
you go, aha, now I understand, and
you have to be there to see it.
So, Hastings Pier, flexibility,
designed to last long into the
future, and also involving the
community. And all those things also
apply here, another of the Stirling
nominees, this is the City of
Glasgow College, and this is the
central atrium. What's it all about?
They wanted a bit of wow factor, the
Cinderella of British education,
they wanted to give it a bit of
civic dignity. But before we look at
the full details of here, two of the
buildings of this year's Stirling
Essentially, Juergen wanted a
studio, a place to work. That means
quite a few things, shooting
photographs, making books, making
exhibitions as well as obviously
lots of people, so really that's
where the idea of several buildings
in several gardens, so somewhere
where lots of different types of
shoots can happen in a very natural
Juergen wanted to share his
home with the studio. We wanted this
new building to have the same
moments of intimacy, so he still has
the kitchen table which is where he
does meet clients and where he
works, there is a library, sauna,
Jim, there is a very private in a
world to the studio, and there is a
big studio where he lays out and
does shoot things, then there is the
public building at the front which
has different collaborators and
staff and an archive. There is
equality between garden and internal
space, all the way through the
building, that is a beautiful part
of it. But reduced palette that has
texture but allows it to be the
background and allows his
photography to be the foreground.
There is a sort of quality of light
both within and in the gardens which
is almost archaic, and I think that
that makes an amazing setting for
the kind of work that Juergen does.
I'm using every single centimetre of
the space, and I photograph every
bit of it, and it is tremendous fun,
it is like a haven of quietness and
freedom and madness. It is just
brilliant. For me, it's excellent.
So, the three major challenges at
the dockyard would exhibit the
ships' timbers, to build
21st-century visitor facilities, and
to provide gallery spaces which told
the story of the dockyard in the age
of sailing, and we managed to do
this by introducing a new building
into the dockyard which allowed for
the communication and circulation of
visitors around the galleries.
example of why I like this building,
it acts as a real beacon for
For me, the building is
very special because we've managed
to find a way to respond to a very
sensitive historic setting with an
architecture that is quite robust
and allows the buildings around it
I love this building
because it reflects so many elements
of the historic dockyard, and in
those modern reflections, it unlocks
the stories that are contained
within the original buildings.
Wow, look at that. City of dreams.
It is so cool. It has got lights.
Not just regular lights, purple
lights. It looks awesome. It smells
so new. There is a cost a
lights. It looks awesome. It smells
so new. There is a cost a! I would
have preferred a Starbucks, but
Costa is better than nothing.
film was made by a student, King
Billy Hawker, capturing her
reactions on seeing the new college.
A year later, we invited her back to
take us on a tour.
It is like hidden
surprises, still places that halfway
through my course I was just
discovering upon. I think it is
really great that they have hidden
these little secret gems all over
the college. In here is the salon,
and also the market where they have
It's so incredible,
and I think that's what every
student feels when they walk in here
for the first time, it has a wow
factor to it, and it here for the
students, you know?
outside, we wanted something that
had a very strong civic presence,
that had an elegance. It's built on
a hill, so we wanted it to
accentuate that. We wanted to put
this building up on a pedestal. We
wanted to say, here in Glasgow, this
is the building that we think the
One of the things
that we were trying to do was to
make a place that would be equally
attractive to young people as the
shopping mall or the park corner, a
place that would allow their social
lives to exist as well as receive
You wanted it to be
Yes, to make a place that can
let people enjoy what they're doing,
and be proud of it.
Did it work? We
will meet 17-year-old catering
student Lee Christie.
kitchen. This is the best kitchen in
the college itself. When I walked
into this kitchen, I was like, is
this a college kitchen?! It's like
walking into the gates of heaven.
You walk in, it's open.
Well, the museum had a very complex
40-year master plan for the site, a
lot of it to do with supplementing
the front of house experience,
adding conservation and science and
logistics, and a lot of these were
challenges left over on the museum
compound from a work that is being
evolving for 250 years, so what we
did was we spent a tremendous amount
of time with the museum
understanding their wants and needs
to try to respond to the brief.
Essentially they wanted to create a
world conservation and exhibition
Centre for the whole of the museum
campus. This is really a celebration
of all of the background work that
maintains this collection and
studies it appropriately. And it
also creates a fantastic vehicle
within which the wider world
contributions and exchanges can
The building is a
state-of-the-art facility for
conservation and scientific
research, it has helped to bring all
of those staff together to work
together, and it has helped us to
design new laboratory services to
better understand the collection and
communicate it to the wider public.
What is striking about this building
is that it is a great environment,
and by the end of the process here,
I felt like I worked here rather
than the partners.
We are in the middle of Stoke
Newington in Hackney surrounded by
these fairly straightforward and
Victorian and Edwardian redbrick
And then we get this
almost cartoonish apartments.
where are the bins?
This is very
cleverly disguising the bike store
on the one side and the bins on the
other, the sorts of things usually
Lets see what it looks
like inside. I love these sorts of
things. This is all the stuff that
is usually causing a blight on the
outside, nicely hidden away.
This is not what I was
expecting. It's a sea of wood.
a bit like entering a kind of sauna.
This is plywood, is it?
It is known
as cross laminated timber, so it is
a super sized form of plywood.
Exactly, it allows
buildings to go up to ten or more
There is still a lot of
wood, isn't there? Is this a door,
do you think is yellow that's the
game in this house. Cupboard or
extra bedroom? The washing machine!
It's hidden away.
It's a celebration of the beauty of
wood. There is no plaster, no paint,
not even a skirting board, and a
factory built wooden kit makes
construction quicker and cheaper.
The basic structure can go up in a
few days. Architects are even
looking at building skyscrapers
using the technology. They're
getting very excited about timber.
On the continent they've been using
solid timber construction for so
long, it's shown to be good,
cheaper, much more environmentally
friendly. To me, it's the future of
So, all we need now is a winner,
which is why we're here. This is it,
the royal Institute of British
architects Stirling Prize, the
biggest night of British
architecture. The announcement will
come in the next few minutes, but
the question is, how do you compare
the big show of projects against
much smaller, detailed but still
carefully crafted buildings? Well,
it's all about the art of
architecture. Which one of them has
taken that art and pushed it forward
and solved human problems in a
As chair of the jury,
I congratulate every single one of
this year's finalists. Truly
remarkable buildings, designed and
built perfectly for the people that
they serve. The winner of the 2017
Riba Stirling Prize for architecture
is Hastings Pier by dRMM
Riba Stirling Prize for architecture
is Hastings Pier by dRMM.
Congratulations. These come and join
us. Please come and join us on the
You can't do interesting
projects, special projects, without
a special client, and I would say
Hastings Pier charity are up there
amongst the most special, even
eccentric, clients you would ever
A good feeling?
It's a fantastic
feeling, not only personally but on
behalf of a great many people who
worked on this project.
It's not a
normal project for an architect at
Absolutely. It was initiated by
local community group who
kick-started an effort to save a
derelict Peya which then caught fire
and then had to be completely
rethought, so it was a long process,
seven years of thinking and cloying
and proposing, and to now come here
and be recognised not just as a kind
of community driven project but as a
design, that is fantastic.
When it was opened in the 1870s, it
was described as the peerless pier,
a masterpiece of Victorian
engineering. But like so many
others, it has faced the ups and
downs of fires, storm and changing
fashions. Yes, 145 years on, it is
now Britain's best new building.
Just perhaps, Hastings Pier can
offer an example to others of new
hope, new future, a new possibility
for the British pier.
What are your thoughts looking out
on this now?
Oh, I love it. It's
just so peaceful.