‘We were robbed’ – Sarah Wigglesworth on the Stirling Prize shortlist
Stirling shortlist will ’marginalise architects’
Sarah Wigglesworth has warned that this year’s Stirling Prize shortlist risks marginalising architects rather than celebrating them.
The inclusion of high-spec buildings by the “usual suspects” is a missed opportunity to engage the public and government in a debate about the importance of good design, she said.
She also expressed disappointment that her Sandal Magna Primary School in Wakefield did not make the list.
“We were robbed,” she said. “I would say this, but I think it’s a really extraordinary building and an amazing thing to have achieved given all the things going on in the background.”
Procured through the Primary Capital Programme it was a school that could still be built under the Gove regime, she said.
“It’s not flashy or slick or special other than we have given them something that’s made an enormous difference to them.
“In terms of championing the every day, the shortlist is a failure of nerve. It’s a lost opportunity to say something to government about why design matters and how it makes a difference to ordinary lives rather than just posh people who decide to buy Shakespeare or sponsor an academy.
“The Stirling is an amazing showcase for the public and a chance to raise the debate on national TV. This just reinforces their belief that it’s all about the beauty of the object and that the architect is merely a stylist who sprinkles magic dust over engineering. It’s a sure-fire way of marginalising us.
“There are good buildings on it but as a whole the shortlist is safe, boring and predictable with a lot of names that have been on it before.
“It sends a strange message to the powers that be who don’t understand what design is about. It reinforces architecture as a rich person’s activity. That’s where I feel most let down.
“That sense of an elite group who always seem to get the gongs and is quite hard to penetrate comes through very strongly in this year’s list.
“There’s a real absence of a social programme. It’s the usual suspects of galleries and slick offices.”