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Wednesday23 July 2014

Revealed: The science behind the Stirling Prize odds

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How do the bookmakers pick their favourite for the architecture accolade?

The Stirling Prize shortlist has arrived – and with it the opportunity to make some fast cash testing your architectural knowledge against the bookmakers.

Niall McLaughlin Architects is the early favourite to win the prize for its Bishop Edward King Chapel, priced at 7/4 by Paddy Power and 9/4 by William Hill, but is closely trailed by Heneghan Peng with the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and Alison Brooks with Newhall Be.

Faced with such a diverse shortlist – comprising housing projects, a chapel, a medical school and a castle – how does the bookmaker arrive at its odds?

Paddy Power told us they take into account various factors including the plaudits contenders have received previously, opinions voiced in the press and on architectural forums and other publicity which the projects have attracted.

“The Bishop King Edward Chapel ticks lots of boxes,” says a spokesman. “It appears to be pushing the boundaries of architecture in terms of structure and also in terms of style. It has been designed with its environment in mind and settles into its surroundings cleverly. It has already attracted a lot of praise.”

So what about William Hill? How does this renowned bookmaker arrive at its odds?

Does it rely on complex mathematical formulas? Or perhaps it consults an extensive panel of scholarly architectural experts?

“We look at images of the contenders,” says a William Hill spokeswoman. “We have a team who all say which is their favourite and they do the initial odds based on that. We don’t have any architectural expertise.”

Oh.

Perhaps this will come as some comfort to Hawkins Brown, which at 9/1 is this year’s rank outsider to win the prize for a revamp of Sheffield’s Park Hill estate.

That said, William Hill seems pretty happy with what would seem a fairly haphazard approach. “We’ve done pretty well in the past,” says the spokeswoman, adding that the odds will change as the money starts to pile on.

All of which means, if you think you can second guess the Stirling judges better than the team at the William Hill office, now’s the time to put your money on.

The odds in full:

Paddy Power

 7/4       Bishop Edward King Chapel (Niall McLaughlin)

 9/4       Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre (Heneghan Peng Architects)

 4/1       Newhall Be (Alison Brooks Architects)

 6/1       Park Hill (Hawkins/Brown with Studio Egret West)

 7/1       University Of Limerick Medical School & Student Accommodation (Grafton Architects)

 8/1       Astley Castle (Witherford Watson Mann Architects)

William Hill

 9/4       Bishop Edward King Chapel (Niall McLaughlin)

 3/1       Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre (Heneghan Peng Architects)

 3/1       Newhall Be (Alison Brooks Architects)

 6/1       University Of Limerick Medical School & Student Accommodation (Grafton Architects)

 6/1       Astley Castle (Witherford Watson Mann Architects)

 9/1       Park Hill (Hawkins/Brown with Studio Egret West)

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Single Aspect

    Park Hill does not deserve to win. The majority of the original flats are boarded up awaiting refurbishment and this does no credit to Sheffield City Council.
    Whatever the merits of the Hawkins Brown and Urban Splash refurbishment of the northernmost block, it cannot be judged alone and must be seen in the wider context of the whole estate.
    In my opinion this scheme should never have been entered for the Stirling Prize. It's inappropriate.

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  • Who gives a shìt?

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