James Simon Galerie in Berlin vies with WilkinsonEyre bridge and Kashef Chowdhury hospital for title of world’s best new building

David Chipperfield Architects’ £120m James Simon Galerie in Berlin is one of the three finalists revealed today for the RIBA International Prize 2021.

It joins WilkinsonEyre’s Lille Langebro cycle and pedestrian bridge in Copenhagen and the Friendship Hospital in Satkhira, Bangladesh, designed by Kashef Chowdhury/Urbana, in the fray for the accolade of “best new building in the world”.

Two Chipperfield projects were among the 16 longlist candidates for the awards, announced in July. The practice’s other project was Amorepacific Headquarters in Seoul.

The Galerie is a classically inspired entrance building and visitor centre for Berlin’s Museum Island, a Unesco World Heritage Site. It features a temple-like entrance way and colonnaded walkway on a narrow strip of land, with main visitor facilities located in subterranean spaces – including a 300-seat auditorium and temporary exhibition gallery.

Friendship Hospital, by Kashef Chowdhury and his Urbana practice, is a low-cost eight-bed community facility situated in a largely rural area of south-west Bangladesh that was seriously affected by a cyclone a few years ago.

The hospital is arranged around a series of intimate courtyards that bring in light and natural ventilation. A rainwater-collecting canal cuts through the length of the site, separating inpatients and outpatients, and providing a valuable supply of water in an area where the saline groundwater is unusable for most practical purposes.

WilkinsonEyre’s Lille Langebro is a 160m swing bridge across Copenhagen’s inner harbour. It sits alongside the busy Langebro bridge and offers a safe and accessible crossing for thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every day.

Two rotating sections of the bridge swing open vertically to allow marine traffic to pass through, however the mechanism is buried within the bridge’s piers and opening structure to avoid interrupting the bridge’s continuous sweeped line across the water when it is closed.

RIBA said Lille Langebro was the first time such an engineering approach had been used in swinging bridge design.

RIBA president Simon Allford said the three shortlisted projects had been selected following a rigorous judging process.

“Our global architecture awards champion buildings that change the world and positively impact the community around them – and these three exemplars certainly deliver,” he said.

“These projects are united by human experience at their heart. Collectively they demonstrate sensitivity to their surroundings and local cultures, inclusive design, and sustainable solutions, and set a high bar for architectural excellence around the world.”

The winning project is expected to be announced in early 2022 – a delay to RIBA’s initial plans, which were to announce a winner this month.

French architect and urban planner Odile Decq is chair of the judging panel. Grand jury members are: artist and designer Es Devlin; US architect Jeanne Gang; Shanghai-based Rossana Hu; and Brazil’s Gustavo Utrabo.