Hadid's Stirling Prize win 'is a nasty irony'
The decision to award this year’s Stirling Prize to Zaha Hadid’s Evelyn Grace Academy has been called “a nasty irony” by one of the UK’s leading schools architects.
Jonathan Ellis Miller, founder of east-London practice Ellis Miller, said the £37.5 million school in Brixton “should have been extraordinary” and that the judging panel, which included engineer Hanif Kara and landscape designer Dan Pearson “clearly did not understand anything about school building”.
“You look at the furniture and you have bog standard timber furniture that you’d find in a pub. The people who judged it clearly could not see the real evidence,” he said.
“The irony is that within a couple of miles of the Magna Centre [where the award ceremony took place] there are schools that lost their BSF funding through [education secretary] Michael Gove, and here we are rewarding the highest prize to an over-priced school.
“It’s a nasty irony and I think it sends a message of crass stupidity and total insensitivity.”
Hadid’s school was the surprise winner at the 2011 Stirling Prize on Saturday night, beating Hopkins’ Velodrome – the long-standing favourite – to the crown.
Julia Barfield, co-founder of Marks Barfield, said: “My first choice would have been the Velodrome, just in design terms. That was head and shoulders above everything else.
“At the same time I think that a strong message does need to be sent to Michael Gove. Whether this is quite the right way to do it I’m not sure.”
Deborah Saunt, director at DSDHA, defended the judges’ decision and said the reaction demonstrated “the power of the press and people’s collective expectations”.
She added: “Based on the goverment’s response to architecture to date, I don’t think this will have any effect. They’re not in a mood to listen to arguments about great architecture and what it can achieve.”