Newport Street Gallery has won the coveted 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building. Now in its 21st year, the RIBA Stirling Prize sponsored by Almacantar, is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize. The conversion of almost an entire street of listed industrial buildings in South London into a free public gallery for artist Damien Hirst’s private art collection by Caruso St John Architects, has proven that sound design can come from the most disconnected from society and and unusual of places.
Newport Street Gallery involved the conversion and transformation of a street facing a railway line in Vauxhall, south London. Three listed Victorian industrial buildings, formerly carpentry and scenery painting workshops for West End theatres, have been remodelled and flanked at either end by entirely new buildings; one with a striking, spiky saw-tooth roof. The new additions have a specially-created hard pale red brick finish to closely reference the original buildings; while a huge LED panel on the railway façade encourages passing train commuters to visit. The ground and upper floors within the interconnected five buildings are continuous, with new spiral staircases on their side, to create flexible spaces able to accommodate everything from individual works to larger shows.
This is the first time Caruso St John architects have won the RIBA Stirling Prize; they were shortlisted for the award for Brick House, West London in 2006 and New Art Gallery Walsall in 2000.
RIBA President Jane Duncan said of the gallery, “With Newport Street Gallery, Damien Hirst has made an exceptional contribution to the UK’s strong history of private patronage of architecture. Not only has Damien opened up his enviable private art collection to the world, but he has commissioned a real work of art to house it in.
“Caruso St John have created a stunningly versatile space from a number of linked buildings, with beautifully crafted staircases and superb details including tactile brick facades that blend the street externally and create a succession of wonderful gallery spaces.
“This project exemplifies the best of UK architecture – a highly considered and creative project that brings to life a previously-unloved pocket of the city. I am delighted to present architects Caruso St John with the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize.”
Peter St John, Partner, Caruso St John Architects said: “It’s rare for architects to be given the opportunity to realise a personal vision of the quality of the Newport Street Gallery, and for that vision to have a generous public dimension. We see the building as a palace for direct, intimate and luxurious encounters with contemporary art, and we are very pleased that this award will bring more people to see this extraordinary collection.”
Damien Hirst added, “Newport Street Gallery has realised my ambition to create an unobtrusive and beautiful series of buildings that work perfectly as a space to exhibit great art. I wanted to stay true to the history and roots of the building and Caruso St John understood that from the start. I am immensely proud of what we achieved and the reaction it has received in its first year of opening and hope people will continue to enjoy it.”
Newport Street Gallery was chosen by the judges today from the following outstanding shortlisted entries: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford by Herzog & de Meuron; City of Glasgow College, Riverside Campus by Michael Laird Architects & Reiach and Hall Architects; Outhouse, loucestershire by Loyn & Co Architects; Trafalgar Place, Elephant and Castle, London by dRMM Architects and Weston Library, University of Oxford by WilkinsonEyre.
The judges for the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize were: Patrik Schumacher (Chair), Partner/Director at Zaha Hadid Architects; Paul Monaghan, Director of AHMM, winners of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize; Roisin Heneghan, co-founder and director of the Irish-German practice Heneghan Peng; Mike Hussey, founder of property investment and development group Almacantar; and Rachel Whiteread CBE, artist. Comments from the judges included: “This highly accomplished and expertly detailed art gallery is a bold and confident contribution to the best of UK architecture. Caruso St John’s approach to conservation is irreverent yet sensitive and achieves a clever solution that expresses a poetic juxtaposition of old and new. “Internally, the five buildings are connected as a continuous and coherent sequence of light filled gallery spaces.
The simple and logical circulation is enlivened by exquisitely detailed and sensuous staircases.” The winners of two other annual RIBA awards were also announced; House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects won the 2016 Stephen Lawrence Prize. The prize, set up in memory of Stephen Lawrence who was setting out on the road to becoming an architect before his tragic and untimely death in 1993, and supported by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, is intended to encourage fresh architecture talent and reward the best examples of projects that have a construction budget of less than £1 million. Westmorland Limited won the 2016 RIBA Client of the Year, supported by The Bloxham Charitable Trust. The award recognises the role good clients play in the delivery of fine architecture.