A new housing development in Elephant and Castle is one of six buildings shortlisted to win the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Stirling Prize, celebrating the UK’s best new building.
Orchard Gardens, Elephant Park, is a “playful” 26,910 square foot cluster of buildings containing 228 homes, a communal garden, shops and restaurants.
Designed by Panter Hudspith Architects, Orchard Gardens has already won RIBA London and National Awards earlier this year.
The judges described this as an “exceptional exemplar of a dense residential-led, mixed-used scheme: a project that provides high quality-homes, well scaled outside spaces that positively respond to their setting and enhances place-making.”
The development is a significant component of Elephant and Castle’s £4 billion regeneration programme which began in 2010. It also includes the new town centre and the controversial Castle Square shopping centre, which replaced the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre in 2020.
The shortlist for the 26th RIBA Stirling Award, the highest accolade in architecture, was announced on 21 July.
In London, where four of the six shortlisted buildings are based, Orchard Gardens contends against a net zero development in Liverpool Street, a Hackney primary school and housing construction and a community centre in Fulham.
100 Liverpool Street is a dramatic renovation of a 1980s office block by Hopkins Architects, creating a suite of offices and commercial and public spaces.
The development is already the recipient of three RIBA awards this year, recognised for its reuse of the existing building – including its foundations and some original steelwork – and for being net zero carbon.
Hackney New Primary School and 333 Kingsland Road, meanwhile, is an “immense sculptural pink brute of a building” designed by Henley Halebrown. It is both a school and an affordable new housing block with wide views over East London.
Based on a confined urban site, the designers have created a 10 storey residential building with the adjoining school based around a central courtyard, intended to become the “heart of the school”.
On the other side of London is the new Sands End Arts and Community Centre, where Mæ Architects has connected new pavilions around the disused Clancarty Lodge, built in 1903.
The new facility contains a café, showers, changing facilities and multi-purpose rental spaces for arts and cultural activities which are fully accessible.
It is managed and run by local people, and, as Councillor Andrew Jones put it, is “set up to ensure that it is truly for people of all backgrounds, and that residents are in the driving seat at the new community space in Hammersmith and Fulham.”
Outside London, Forth Valley College - Falkirk Campus in Scotland and The New Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge, are also in the running for the Stirling Prize.
The former is a set of three higher education facilities connected by courtyards and open learning spaces, which replaces an older 1960s building that had reached the end of its useful life.
The latter, The New Library, is a detailed timber-framed library and study space which replaces a library gifted to the college by diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys 300 years ago. It is designed to have a lifespan of 400 years.
RIBA President Simon Allford said: “As we grapple with housing, energy and climate crises, these six projects give cause for optimism, each offering innovative solutions to the challenges of today and the future.
“From major capital city regeneration programmes to new visions for higher education, they all share the ambition to deliver generous architecture fit for a low-carbon future.
“In their architects’ attention to detail, and their clients’ determination and commitment, these six projects distinguish themselves and represent the best of UK architecture today. Together they demonstrate the power of exceptional architecture to enhance lives. My congratulations to everyone involved.”
The 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on Thursday 13 October. Previous winners include last year’s dance studio and library hub at Kingston University and Goldsmith Street council estate in Norwich.