Hirst gallery named UK's best new building


A street of listed industrial buildings that was converted into a gallery to house artist Damien Hirst's private collection has been named the UK's best new building by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Newport Street Gallery transformed most of a south London street that faces a railway line in Vauxhall into a free public gallery under the direction of Caruso St John Architects, who have picked up the coveted 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize trophy for their work.

The most prestigious prize in UK architecture is now in its 21st year and at a ceremony in central London recognised the gallery that renovated the row of Victorian warehouses, previously used as carpentry and scenery painting workshops for West End theatres.

New buildings at either end of the row of five include one that boasts a spiky, saw-tooth roof, while a huge LED panel on the railway facade encourages passing train commuters to make a stop at the exhibitions within.

The judges called it a "highly accomplished and expertly detailed art gallery" and a "bold and confident contribution to the best of UK architecture".

This is the first time Caruso St John architects have won the RIBA Stirling Prize, although they have been shortlisted twice before in 2000 and 2006.

RIBA president Jane Duncan said: "With Newport Street Gallery, Damien Hirst has made an exceptional contribution to the UK's strong history of private patronage of architecture. Not only has Damien opened up his enviable private art collection to the world, but he has commissioned a real work of art to house it in."

She added: "This project exemplifies the best of UK architecture - a highly considered and creative project that brings to life a previously-unloved pocket of the city."

Peter St John, partner at Caruso St John Architects, said: "It's rare for architects to be given the opportunity to realise a personal vision of the quality of the Newport Street Gallery, and for that vision to have a generous public dimension.

"We see the building as a palace for direct, intimate and luxurious encounters with contemporary art, and we are very pleased that this award will bring more people to see this extraordinary collection."

Hirst, whose private art collection is displayed in the gallery which also has space for visiting exhibitions, said: "Newport Street Gallery has realised my ambition to create an unobtrusive and beautiful series of buildings that work perfectly as a space to exhibit great art.

"I wanted to stay true to the history and roots of the building and Caruso St John understood that from the start.

"I am immensely proud of what we achieved and the reaction it has received in its first year of opening and hope people will continue to enjoy it."

The shortlisted entries also included: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford by Herzog & de Meuron; City of Glasgow College, Riverside Campus by Michael Laird Architects & Reiach and Hall Architects; Outhouse, Gloucestershire by Loyn & Co Architects; Trafalgar Place, Elephant and Castle, London by dRMM Architects; and Weston Library, University of Oxford by WilkinsonEyre.

Other winners announced included House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects for the 2016 Stephen Lawrence Prize, which encourages fresh architecture talent in memory of Stephen who was on the road to becoming an architect when he was killed in 1993; and Westmorland Limited, who picked up the 2016 RIBA Client of the Year award.