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Thursday24 July 2014

Architects argue over merits of Stirling contenders

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Double Stirling winner Chris Wilkinson praises shortlist

Architects today gave a mixed reaction to the Stirling Prize shortlist.Chris Wilkinson, partner at double Stirling winner Wilkinson Eyre, praised the selection of six projects.

He said: “It’s a worthy and well-balanced shortlist. All the contenders have pluses but the Stirling always goes to something quite spectacular and relevant.

“So my vote goes for the Velodrome. It’s very topical but what distinguishes it is it’s a very functional, well-engineered building with a very exciting form. It also a very attractive building.

“But they are all really great buildings so it’s not a foregone conclusion by any means.”

He rejected criticism that there were no “ordinary” buildings among the finalists, saying it was hard for them to compete all the way to the shortlist.

“Inevitably the larger buildings have more panache and more to offer,” he said.

Wilkinson did query the omission of Caruso St John’s Chiswick House cafe. And Rab Bennetts, whose Royal Shakespeare Theatre made it on to the list, also thought there were some notable absences, including Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s City of Westminster College.

He said: “We are delighted to be on the list. It’s a very prominent and complex project which has come out well. I’m also surprised and pleased about the inclusion of the Angel Building which is very well done and shows what can be done with old buildings.”

Peter Oborn, deputy chairman of Aedas Architects, said the variety of buildings that traditionally make it to the shortlist could be better used to promote a more public discussion about the value of design.

“With the singular exception of Hopkins’ Velodrome, I doubt whether the general public will understand the short-listing criteria and think this should be articulated more clearly by the judges,” he said.

The Velodrome was the “clear winner for its synthesis of elegance and efficiency”, he added.

Alejandro Zaera-Polo, whose recently disbanded practice Foreign Office Architects was responsible for south-east London’s Ravensbourne College, said he was a little disappointed not to make the shortlist.

But he praised the “interesting and accomplished buildings” that beat his.

 

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