Britain's best new buildings

The shortlist of the Royal Institute of British Architects' Stirling Prize celebrates the year's most exceptional buildings

A revamped 1960s tower block, a home built in the ruins of a 12th century castle and a chapel for an order of nuns are in the running for the UK's best known architecture prize.

They feature on the shortlist of six for the Royal Institute of British Architects' (Riba) Stirling Prize, which celebrates the year's most exceptional buildings and for the first time in the contest's 18 year history, half the practices have women at the helm.

Also competing for the 2013 award are a new visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway, an estate of new homes in Essex and a new medical school building.

Park Hill Phase 1 by Hawkins/Brown with Studio Egret West, Sheffield
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Bookmaker William Hill has installed Bishop Edward King Chapel in Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, as the favourite to win the prize.

The £2 million building, finished earlier this year, was built for Ripon College and an order of nuns, the Community of St John the Baptist, and it features a series of high windows that flood it with natural light. Judges said it "fulfils its complex brief with a lyrical grace".


Also on the list is the once despised Park Hill tower block complex in Sheffield, which has been given a contemporary refit.

The half-century old "brutalist" concrete estate was given Grade II listing in 1997. But for many in the city it had long been an unloved eyesore until it was given an overhaul, which included preserving a notable piece of graffiti in neon lights, reading "I love you will u marry me".


A more contemporary housing project on the shortlist is Newhall Be in Harlow, Essex, a £12 million group of 84 new homes that judges believe "raises the bar for suburban housing developments".

Others in the running are the University of Limerick Medical School, the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre in Northern Ireland and Astley Castle in Warwickshire - a Landmark Trust holiday home that has been created in the ruined walls of a 12th century manor.

The shortlist includes five architecture firms that have never previously figured in the list.

"The UK is blighted with unimaginative, poor quality houses that people don't want to live in but have little other choice, so I am delighted to see two amazing and highly original housing projects on this year's shortlist," said Angela Brady, Riba's president.


"These projects show how when talented architects and clients work together and focus on quality, affordable and desirable new homes can be created. They shine a light on what the future of UK housing can be.

"All six shortlisted projects are ground-breaking in their own way - buildings that deliver more than could ever have been expected. Some of them, such as Park Hill and the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre, are genuinely courageous in laying out a new visionary approach."

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Fri, Mar 22, 2013 11:00 GMT