On the quest for the ‘world’s best building’, the Royal Institute of British Architects launch the second edition of the RIBA International Prize, opening up entries to any qualified architect, for a building of any size, type or budget.

Leading the grand jury on the hunt is Elizabeth Diller, partner at US firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who is looking to discover architecture of strong civic value that ‘contributes to the culture of architecture while addressing the democratic values of our time’.

The winner of the 2016 prize showed exactly this. The UTEC (Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología) in Lima, Peru designed by Grafton Architects, was coined a ‘modern-day Machu Picchu’ by the jury members, who were impressed by the vertical environment for education, that prioritises the movement of people and its role as a civic monument to the city.

Museo Jumex by David Chipperfield Architects with Taller Abierto Arquitectura y Urbanismo won a RIBA Award for International Excellence in 2016

As well as the call to entries, Diller also launches a challenge to architects worldwide: ‘We are also launching a call to arms to the architecture community and to the public to consider the importance of challenging the status quo, of putting forward new paradigms, and of thinking broadly about architecture’s potential reach,’ she says.

The International Prize also includes an award for ‘Best Emerging Practice’, which last year went to Rural Urban Framework’s Andong Hospital in rural China. Built of traditional bricks, the facility encompasses friendly waiting room spaces and an open courtyard – challenging established hospital models in China and looking to improve experiences and preconceptions.

Joshua Bolchover, co-founder of Rural Urban Framework, accompanies Diller on the grand jury panel, bringing experience from his work in the research and design collaborative pratice as well as providing insight as a shortlisted and awarded practice from last year’s prize. Bringing a unique creative and technical experience of architecture to the panel is Wayne McGregor CBE, choreographer.

The full grand jury, that will be announced in due course, will put all shortlisted architectural projects through their paces – the judging includes up to three visits to the buildings in person, as the judges look for a building that is not just sensitively and skilfully designed, but also makes an active contribution to its community.

This year, the prize launches alongside the inaugural RIBA International Week which welcomes architectural professionals including Francis Kéré, Amanda Levete, Sir David Chipperfield, Elizabeth Diller, Odile Decq and Ma Yansong to the floor to share their own architectural challenges and to debate the future of the built world. Entries to the RIBA International Prize are open now, until 17 October. 

RELATED TOPICS: RIBA, DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO