- What Does an Architect Do?
- Find an Architect
- Check the Register
- Top Tips from Architects
- Useful Questions Before you Start
- Working with an Older Building
- Working with your Town and Neighbourhood
- Ask a Question
- Work with an Architect: Commercial
- Work with an Architect: Your Home
- Why your Architect must be Registered
- Raising a Concern
- Professional Conduct Committee
- Misuse of Title
Grafton Architects’ Kingston Town House Named as the Winner of the 25th RIBA Stirling Prize
Photo Ed ReevePhoto Ed Reeve
Congratulations to Grafton Architects for winning UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the RIBA Stirling Prize for their work on Kingston University London - Town House.
The coveted accolade, which was announced at a dedicated event inside the Basil Spence-designed Coventry Cathedral, marks the 25th RIBA Stirling Prize cycle. The Irish studio’s Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell and their team fought off stiff competition from a number of worthy structures, as seen in the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist.
Kingston University London - Town House
A progressive new model for the design of higher education buildings, the dynamic student ‘Town House’ expertly captures the spirit of learning and the value of community cohesion.
Grafton Architects have designed a purposefully democratic and open space, as its name suggests: Town – referring to the building’s civic dimension, and House – reflecting a sense of home and belonging. Many of the students at Kingston are the first in their family to attend university and this building sends an important message to them, their educators and the local community, that this is a place where everyone is welcome and valued.
Set back from the street, the project extends the public realm, generously blurring its boundary with the pavement and inviting everyone in – students, locals and visitors alike. There are no barriers. A 200m long six-storey, deep colonnade offers shadow and shelter, with terraces and gardens above creating shelves of connected public space. The facades are permeable: open and transparent at the lower levels – revealing views to the passer-by of the engaging activities taking place inside – becoming more shaded at upper levels.
Equally open and spacious inside, users and visitors are greeted by the public forum, leading to an amphitheatre. From the ground floor, eyes are drawn up through the building – through voids and staircases – to complementing social and study spaces. Exemplary acoustic design enables the bustling public forum, quiet library, archive, dance studio and theatre to co-exist, and enrich the experience of the users.
Generous volumes allow people, light and air to flow naturally through the building, which also uses a thermally-activated concrete frame to reduce operational energy use. This highly-adaptable building will stand the test of time and provide an inspiring environment for students, residents and visitors for years to come.
Speaking about the project and the prize, Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, said: “This building is about people, interaction, light, possibilities. It is about connecting to the community, the passer-by, an invitation to cross the threshold; a three-dimensional framework with layers of silence and layers of sound. Space, volume and light are the organisers. The building’s edges are not boundaries but active gathering spaces, terraces, galleries. Being outside under the big sky is always just a few steps away. Kingston University gave us this educational vision which we translated into a spatial open matrix. We are absolutely delighted the Kingston Town House has won the prestigious Stirling Prize.”
Speaking on behalf of the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize jury, Lord Norman Foster, said: “Kingston University Town House is a theatre for life – a warehouse of ideas. It seamlessly brings together student and town communities, creating a progressive new model for higher education, well deserving of international acclaim and attention. In this highly original work of architecture, quiet reading, loud performance, research and learning, can delightfully co-exist. That is no mean feat. Education must be our future – and this must be the future of education.”
For further information is available here.
*Text obtained from RIBA.