A girls’ secondary school in London has won the UK’s most prestigious prize for architecture, with the judges saying it set a standard in design “that every child in Britain deserves”.
Burntwood School in Wandsworth, was awarded the 2015 Riba Stirling Prize for the best new building in Britain.
Architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) picked up the prize at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London for their “reimagining” of the 1950s modernist secondary school campus.
The judges called the £40.9m project the “clear winner” on the six-strong shortlist “because it demonstrates the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society”.
It is the first time the architect practice has won the Riba prize, now in its 20th year, after three previous times on the shortlist including for an educational institution: Westminster Academy in 2008.
The judges said the award was the culmination of many years of “creative toil” in designing schools up and down the country, before adding that Burntwood “is their masterpiece”.
Burntwood beat buildings including the luxury Neo Bankside development in London, Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Lanarkshire and the extension of the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.
AHMM created six new faculty buildings on the site first established as a school in the 1950s, referencing the original design by architect Sir Leslie Martin.
“It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering,” the judges said.
Riba president Jane Duncan said: “Burntwood School shows us how superb school design can be at the heart of raising our children's educational enjoyment and achievement.”
Schools should be more than just practical, functional buildings, Paul Monaghan, director of AHMM, said. “Good school design makes a difference to the way students value themselves and their education, and we hope that Burntwood winning the RIBA Stirling Prize shows that this is worth investing in.”
Last year the Riba Prize went to the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, designed by Haworth Tompkins, and the prize has won by practices including Zaha Hadid Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and David Chipperfield Architects.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies