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Britain's 50 best new buildings: 2012 Royal Institute of British Architects Awards announced
London Olympic Stadium, London E20 - POPULOUS.
LONDON.- The Royal Institute of British Architects announced the winners of the 2012 RIBA Awards on Thursday 21 June 2012. RIBA Awards for architectural excellence will be presented to 50 buildings in the UK and 9 buildings elsewhere in the EU. The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the building of the year will be drawn from the 59 RIBA Award winners.

This year’s winners range from a house in the shape of a sand dune to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, from a demountable opera pavilion to the radical transformation of a Spanish bull-fighting arena. Well-known architects and smaller architecture practices will be battling it out to make it onto this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist alongside television presenter Kevin McCloud and philosopher Alain de Botton who have nailed their colours to the mast and commissioned two of this year’s award-winning buildings.

The dominant theme amongst this year’s winners are major public arts buildings – ten of which have made the grade; many are the result of pre-recession arts lottery funding which has a typically long gestation period. The beautifully finished projects include Bath’s Holburne Museum (Eric Parry Architects) and the Hepworth Wakefield (David Chipperfield Architects).

Refreshingly, the vast majority of the 2012 RIBA Awards winners are in regional towns, with awards across all genre types. Two of the UK’s best-loved seaside towns have received surprising new additions to their coastline and, in the case of the Turner Contemporary at Margate, been hailed as a boost to the town’s economy.

This year’s winners reveal a trend which could be termed ‘austerity chic’, with a strong presence of crafted and considered buildings, using carefully selected materials which emphasize texture, authenticity and environmental efficiency. The Brockholes Nature Reserve Visitor Centre in Lancashire is the perfect example of this – a wooden ‘floating village’ designed to enhance our enjoyment of nature and with an enviable energy rating.

Thoughtful stitching-together of the existing urban fabric is another theme - with the clever reuse and reinvention of existing spaces. Impressive examples of this include London’s new Exhibition Road streetscape and Central St Martin’s Campus, while impressive urban projects such as Kevin McCloud’s housing project, The Triangle in Swindon and the new Lyric Theatre in Belfast demonstrate how to make the best use of confined urban spaces.

Speaking today, RIBA President Angela Brady said: “For nearly fifty years the RIBA Awards have reflected the changing state of British architecture and revealed emerging design trends. What really stands out is that even in times of austerity, we can still deliver amazingly clever, high quality buildings that reflect the needs of today and enhance our daily lives. The judges were delighted to see so many well considered, crafted and innovative projects, and the use of beautiful materials; these projects are truly exciting and inspiring. The huge range of great buildings will guarantee an exciting RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist later in the year and illustrates the value of quality in architecture.”





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