Leisure projects dominate shortlist for RIBA's best building in the world

The finalists selected by our jury represent an exceptional selection of buildings across the world, and notably include a number of buildings dedicated to culture and the arts
– Jane Duncan, RIBA president

Leisure buildings dominate the shortlist of the first ever RIBA International Prize, which is seeking the best building in the world.

The Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan by Zaha Hadid Architects; the Stormen Concert Hall in Bodø, Norway by DRDH Architects; the Arcquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre in The Azores by Menos é Mais Aquitectos; and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City by David Chipperfield all feature on the six-strong list.

The two other shortlisted buildings are the Ring of Remembrance war memorial in Northern France by AAPP – which is engraved with names of the thousands who died in WWI – and the UTEC university of engineering in Lima, Peru by Grafton Architects. The latter also has a leisure component, with the inclusion of a theatre and cinema space.

“The finalists selected by our jury represent an exceptional selection of buildings across the world, and notably include a number of buildings dedicated to culture and the arts, reflecting the visionary clients who have commissioned architecture of the highest calibre,” said RIBA president Jane Duncan.

“It demonstrates the understanding of how a building can powerfully communicate the shared history of our cultural past and present, and become a focus of civic pride for the people that use these spaces whether for meeting and enjoyment or cultural appreciation.

“Our panel of jurors have been particularly impressed by the way in which each building reacts to, resolves and assimilates into the varying geographies and contexts – from dense urban cities to a small town in the Arctic Circle. Each project resolves the complex demands of its context with ingenuity, exceptional detail and finishing and a sensitivity to the needs of the users and communities which will inhabit these spaces.”

The RIBA awards committee visited 30 buildings in over 20 countries and five continents over the summer. The Grand Jury of the prize, led by Richard Rogers, will now visit the final six buildings again before the winner is announced on Thursday, 24 November 2016.

Billie Tsien, founding partner of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; Kunlé Adeyemi, founder and principal of NLÉ; Marilyn Jordan Taylor, the Dean of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Fine Arts; and Philip Gumuchdjian, founder of Gumuchdjian Architects and Chair of RIBA Awards also sit on the jury.

The RIBA International Prize was set up to consider any building in any country, irrespective of its function or budget, that “demonstrates a range of innovative responses to the role of public architecture, providing major new additions to their contexts and communities.”

The award was introduced to replace RIBA’s global Lubetkin Prize, which it cancelled in 2013 for being too narrow in its remit. It’s open to any qualified architect in the world, rather than being exclusive to RIBA members.

In the spotlight
The leisure contenders, in the words of RIBA

Arquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre (Menos é Mais) is located in The Azores, an archipelago of nine small islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Restoring the site of an 1890s sweet potato distillery, the building expertly combines restoration, reconstruction and new build, drawing on the history of the building and its distinctive black Basalt exterior to create a restrained, industrial character. Constructed over the course of three years, the process revealed a complex of cloisters and cells in the basement of the old distillery, which have been transformed to display artwork - an ancient backdrop for very contemporary use. The building has become a beacon for progress both locally and internationally, and has made a substantial impact on the local community - showing respect for its past and ambition for the future.

Arquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre

Zaha Hadid Architects’, Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku was designed to celebrate Azerbaijan’s independence and first president Heydar Aliyev. It was completed in 2013 and offers a vibrant programme of arts, music and performance to audiences in the vaulted spaces and distinctive wave-like form that dominates the eastern aspect of the city. The building represents a break from tradition - not least in the post-Soviet landscape of Baku, and now welcomes over 1000 visitors a day as both a public social space and a cultural nucleus for the city.

The complex landscape has been brought together into a single, fluid composition which appears out of the hill. The building is distinctive not only for its scale and undulating form, but for its use of white cladding and paving, a marked departure from the traditional architecture and aesthetic of the city. The heart of the building is found in its sophisticated and welcoming central auditorium; a warm performance space whose innovative use of oak to line and sculpt the interior showcases a sophistication in both vision and joinery.

Heydar Aliyev Centre

Museo Jumex by David Chipperfield Architects is a structure that celebrates the industrial heritage of its site context in Mexico City. It is home to the largest private collection of Latin American contemporary art in the world. Centrally located in a bustling and overcrowded city, the building offers a contemplative space in which visitors can escape the rush of the city.

A large public space is divided across three spacious levels; a glazed Piano Nobile gallery and a flexible secondary space punctuated by a single large window flooding the space with light. The top floor opens out to present the museum’s collection under a soft diffused daylight through original factory roof lights. The quality of light distinctive to Chipperfield’s practice defines the space, as does the consistent sense of quality in the materials and subtle detailing that separate public from work space. A characteristic dialogue of travertine and timber marks the Museo Jumex as a remarkable building.

Museo Jumex by David Chipperfield Architects

Stormen Concert Hall and Library by DRDH has created a new community focus for a small town, with two new civic buildings in Bodø, 100km inside the Arctic Circle. The studio’s first major building commission, the scheme is expertly stitched into the existing urban fabric, playing off the link to the town centre as well as the nearby harbour and the luminous experience of the Arctic sunshine. With rigorous attention to detail, material and the user’s experience of both the space of the library building and new concert hall spaces, the architect’s design is matched with technical ambition. The concert hall houses three music venues within its structure, and is considered comparable to the New York’s Carnegie Hall as one of the best in the world for symphonic music.

Stormen Concert Hall and Library

Leisure  architecture  design  RIBA  shortlist  competition 
Related stories
07 Oct 2016

Stirling Prize winner: Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John named UK's best new building

10 May 2016

Bjarke Ingels, David Chipperfield and Shigeru Ban in contention as RIBA names shortlist for 'best building in the world'

09 Dec 2015

RIBA launches architecture prize to find the best building in the world

Leisure buildings dominate the shortlist of the first ever RIBA International Prize, which is seeking the best building in the world. The Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan by Zaha Hadid Architects; the Stormen Concert Hall in Bodø, Norway by DRDH Architects; the Arcquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre in The Azores by Menos é Mais Aquitectos; and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City by David Chipperfield all feature on the six-strong
The late Zaha Hadid is shortlisted for the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan / Iwan Baan
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7657     
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7657     
company profile
Company profile: Painting With Light
Painting with Light is a team of professional lighting and multimedia experts who design and produce visual experiences that dazzle & shine.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
The architects Dean Mackenzie and Hamish Monk
"We’ve designed the space so that the atmosphere is intimate"

Les Mills’ new studio spaces at its iconic Auckland City Gym showcase a trend away from masculine ‘grunty’ gyms to something altogether different

The hotel features two restaurants and two bars, including the Julep Herbal & Vermouth Bar
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
The Royal Pool and Spa Suite has a private bio-sauna, steam sauna and jacuzzi
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

Francis graduated as a landscape architect in Belgium. He returned to Lebanon in 1993
"I believe gardens are where the soul rests"

With a focus on desert landscapes and collaborations with Zaha Hadid and OMA, the principal of Francis Landscapes has a deep belief in the power of nature

Dana Kalczak
"If we had focused entirely on high tech in the hotel, the artistry we normally strive for would have been compromised"

Four Seasons’ vice president of design speaks to CLAD about working with Norman Foster and creating magical moments

Manuelle Gautrand
"The cities where you have good cultural buildings and facilities – it’s a way for people to mix, to share the city in a much deeper way"

The French architect and winner of the 2017 European Prize for Architecture tells us why she is determined to surprise

The guest rooms provide views across the quarry
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

cladkit product news
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
cladkit product news
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
cladkit product news
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates