The RIBA Stirling Prize 2022 has been announced, crowning The New Library at Magdalene College by Níall McLaughlin Architects as winner of the award’s 26th edition. This is one of architecture’s highest accolades, a prestigious honour and an eagerly awaited moment in the industry’s annual calendar. The new library building for the college, part of the University of Cambridge, was celebrated and presented with its gong during a dedicated ceremony at RIBA’s London headquarters this evening.
The RIBA Stirling Prize 2022 winner
The New Library at Magdalene College by Níall McLaughlin Architects is set in Cambridge and completed in early 2021. The jury praised the project for balancing openness with intimacy, and for being a project that is ‘built to last.' Speaking on behalf of the 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize jury, RIBA president Simon Allford, described the building as ‘a solid and confident, yet deferential new kid on the college block.'
The building provides the college (which was founded more than 700 years ago) with space for not just a library – which has been designed to be open 24 hours a day – but also an archive and an art gallery space. Natural materials and time-honed construction techniques and features, including load-bearing brick, gabled pitched roofs, windows with tracery, and brick chimneys, create a composition that feels solid and sustainable, but also at home in the city's historical fabric.
‘The Magdalene College Library is a work of many hands and many minds. The College created the possibility for success in the way that they initiated and managed the project. The appointment of designers, consultants, builders, and craftsmen was treated with care. Throughout the development process, our team was supported and robustly questioned in our decisions. We knew we were building for a client who was motivated to achieve the best outcome. Our responsibility to the history and future development of this learning community was clear. We were asked to build for the long-term using present resources wisely,' said architect and studio founder Níall McLaughlin. ‘This is the first time a college has won the Stirling Prize. It is good to celebrate the contribution these remarkable communities have made to the development of modern architectural culture in Britain.'
The RIBA Stirling Prize 2022 shortlist
From a net-zero redevelopment of a 1980s office block to education buildings, affordable housing, cultural and community spaces; and from London to Falkirk, Scotland, the award shortlist this year explored issues around the current climate crisis, reuse and adaptation of existing buildings, as well as the value of community. Flexibility and the urban realm also appeared strongly in the shortlist, which felt less about grand architectural gestures, and more about subtle, functional, everyday design for all.
Alongside the winner, the other shortlisted projects were: 100 Liverpool Street, London by Hopkins Architects; Forth Valley College – Falkirk Campus, Scotland by Reiach and Hall Architects; Hackney New Primary School and 333 Kingsland Road, London by Henley Halebrown; Orchard Gardens, Elephant Park, London by Panter Hudspith Architects; Sands End Arts and Community Centre, London by Mæ Architects.
Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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