Thursday evening, the Royal Institute of British Architects presented London-based firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) with the RIBA Stirling Prize—the U.K.’s most prestigious architecture award—for their work on the Burntwood School. The 2,000-student secondary school located in London’s Wandsworth district provides an enriched science and math curriculum.
AHMM added six academic buildings and two large cultural centers to the campus, linking the new facilities to existing modernist structures designed in the 1950s by renowned architect Sir Leslie Martin. The firm created double height spaces at the end of corridors to maximize natural light and worked with an artist to include large, colorful murals throughout.
“Schools can and should be more than just practical, functional buildings,” said architect Paul Monaghan, director of AHMM. “Good school design makes a difference to the way students value themselves and their education, and we hope that Burntwood winning the RIBA Stirling Prize shows that this is worth investing in.”
Shortlisted three times since 2008, AHMM is a first-time winner of the Stirling Prize. RIBA president Jane Duncan commended the firm’s work at the Burntwood School, calling the buildings “delightful, resourceful, and energy efficient.”
“With the UK facing a huge shortage of school places,” Duncan said, “it is vital we learn lessons from Burntwood.”
Serving alongside Duncan as this year’s judges were architect Peter Clegg, 2014 prize winner Steve Tompkins, arts philanthropist Dame Theresa Sackler, and Rory Olcayto, editor of The Architects’ Journal.
Now in its 20th year, the prize is awarded annually to the architect of a U.K. building deemed significant to the evolution of architecture and the built environment. The shortlisted entries for the prize were: Darbishire Place, Peabody Housing in London by Niall McLaughlin Architects; Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Lanarkshire by Reiach and Hall Architects; NEO Bankside housing in London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners; the University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building in London by Heneghan Peng Architects; and The Whitworth at the University of Manchester by MUMA.