Burntwood School wins 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize


Burntwood School has won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize 2015 for the UK's best new building.

Situated in the London borough of Wandsworth, the design by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) transformed the 1950s buildings of the large comprehensive, and its campus for 2,000 girls and 200 staff.

The architects created six new faculty buildings and two large cultural buildings linking original buildings by renowned 1950s architect Sir Leslie Martin.

Every building is full of light and air with double height spaces at the end of each corridor to increase natural daylight and create well-framed views.

It offers a range of teaching spaces from conventional classrooms to interactive open spaces. Already a very sculptural building, AHMM worked closely with an artist to use large, colourful murals throughout the buildings, cleverly combining signposting with modern art.

The RIBA Stirling Prize is now in its 20th year and sponsored by Almacantar. It is the UK's most prestigious architecture prize.

London constructions dominated the shortlist.

Aside from Burntwood, the other buildings were: Darbishire Place, Peabody Housing London by Niall McLaughlin Architects;NEO Bankside housing by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building by Heneghan Peng architects.

Outside of the capital, The Whitworth, University of Manchester by MUMA and Maggie's Cancer Care Centre, Lanarkshire by Reiach and Hall Architects were recognised.

The presentation of the trophy to architects AHMM took place at a special ceremony on Thursday, October 15 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.

The judges said: "Burntwood School is the clear winner of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize. It is the most accomplished of the six shortlisted buildings because it demonstrates the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society.

"Burntwood sets a standard in school design that every child in Britain deserves. It is a culmination of many years of creative toil by AHMM in designing schools up and down the country. This is their masterpiece."

It is the first time AHMM has won the RIBA Stirling Prize. 

RIBA president Jane Duncan said: "Burntwood School shows us how superb school design can be at the heart of raising our children's educational enjoyment and achievement."

Paul Monaghan, director at AHMM, said: "Schools can and should be more than just practical, functional buildings - they need to elevate the aspirations of children, teachers and the wider community.

"Good school design makes a difference to the way students value themselves and their education, and we hope that Burntwood winning the RIBA Stirling Prize shows that this is worth investing in."

Helen Dorfman, principal at Burntwood School, said: "The whole Burntwood School Community is delighted and proud that the scheme has been recognised as being worthy of the Stirling Prize.

"The Burntwood scheme is a testament to the power of strong, collaborative partnerships. Staff and students have said on many occasions that the new buildings have greatly improved the quality of their day to day experiences at the school and students comment that their commitment to learning has been enhanced." 

Previous winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize include: Liverpool Everyman Theatre by Haworth Tompkins in 2014 and Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann in 2013.