Starchitects Don't Win In Stirling Prize Shocker

lab intro© RIBA

According to the Guardian, nobody expected the Sainsbury Laboratory to win the biggest prize in British architecture.

It was neither the critics' favourite, nor the bookies', nor did it come anywhere near the top of public polls. Most people in the room – including many of the critics – hadn't even been to see it.

Sainsbury LabsRIBA/Promo image

The popular choice was the Olympic stadium, the critics loved Belfast's Lyric Theatre, whose architect complained about the Sainsbury:

It was especially hard to lose to a building with an enormous budget (dwarfing ours) in an extremely privileged city, and a project to which the public barely have access.

But Architects Stanton Williams got props from Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian, who points out that as a lab, it might have been just an "anonymous prefab shed housing a functional stack of labs and pipes." Instead, it is a "Temple to botany."

Sainsbury evening© RIBA

It also is pretty green in other ways:

Sustainability through flexibility in long-term use is achieved through an adaptable façade behind the limestone pillar façade, enabling the research spaces to grow and change as required by the scientists. Despite the high energy demands of laboratories, the building has achieved a BREEAM excellent rating, aided by 1,000 square metres of photovoltaic panels and extensive natural lighting even in the laboratories. These top-lit labs are arranged on one floor in an L-shape, encouraging interaction between scientists.

Architects can be crabby and sore losers, but this is not the first time that the underdog won. You are supposed to smile and suck it up. BD Online provides instructions on how to lose gracefully here.

Starchitects Don't Win In Stirling Prize Shocker
A more modest green building from an architect few have heard of takes the big British prize

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