Stirling Prize shortlist: Caruso St John and WilkinsonEyre nominated for leisure buildings

To me, this shortlist reflects everything that is great about UK architecture – a blend of experimental, artistic vision and commitment
– Jane Duncan

Two leisure projects have made the shortlist for the prestigious 2016 Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building, which was announced today (14 July).

Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall by Caruso St John and Weston Library in Oxford by WilkinsonEyre are among six projects in the running for the UK’s highest accolade for architecture. The winner will be announced by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on 6 October 2016.

The other buildings in the running are a partly-subterranean home in the Forest of Dean, called the Outhouse; the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford by Herzog & de Meuron; the Trafalgar Place housing development in south London; and a new college campus for the City of Glasgow College.

The Newport Street Gallery is a free public museum housing artist Damien Hirst’s private collection and his restaurant Pharmacy 2. Three Victorian workshops once used to create sets for West End productions were bookended by Caruso St John’s two new buildings creating a seamless new sequence.

The £50m Weston Library project is a restoration and reinvigoration of a Grade II listed building home to one of the world’s greatest research libraries. The main lobby has been re-opened to the public with a first floor glazed mezzanine that forms a direct visual relationship with the books, while windows and floors have been refurbished to herald the original features.

If the building wins the prize, it will represent a hat-trick for Wilkinson Eyre – previous winners with the Magna Centre in Rotherham and Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

The RIBA Stirling Prize is judged against a range of criteria including design vision; innovation and originality; accessibility and sustainability; level of client satisfaction and “capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors”.

Speaking about the shortlist, RIBA president Jane Duncan said: “Every one of the six buildings shortlisted today illustrates the huge benefit that well-designed buildings can bring to people’s lives. They can give cities and institutions a new landmark to delight and draw in visitors, improve education potential, and increase civic pride.

“To me, this shortlist reflects everything that is great about UK architecture – a blend of experimental, artistic vision and a commitment to changing people’s lives for the better.”

Duncan praised private funding for allowing remarkable public buildings to be built, stating that donors such as Hirst “are continuing in the proud history of private patronage of architecture, and their continued support contrasts the slump in publicly-funded architecture.”

Previous leisure winners in the Stirling Prize’s 21 years include the Liverpool Everyman Theatre by Haworth Tompkins (2014); Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann (2013); and the American Air Museum by Foster + Partners (1998).