Damien Hirst gallery crowned RIBA prize winner

The UK’s most prestigious architecture prize was last night awarded to a new gallery housing the private art collection of Damien Hirst.

Hailed as a ‘bold and confident contribution to the best of UK architecture’ the Newport Street Gallery was crowned winner of the 2016 Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Stirling Prize at a ceremony in London. Now in its twenty-first year, the prize is awarded to a UK building which fulfils a range of criteria including:

  • design vision;
  • innovation and originality;
  • capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors;
  • accessibility and sustainability;
  • how fit the building is for its purpose; and
  • the level of client satisfaction.

Designed by Caruso St John architects, the Newport Street Gallery involved the remodelling of three listed Victorian industrial buildings in Vauxhall, which once housed carpentry and scene painting workshops for London’s West End theatres. Caruso St John’s design also incorporated brand new additions finished with a specially created hard pale red brick to resemble the original listed buildings. The result, according to one member of the Stirling Prize judging panel is ‘a continuous and coherent sequence of light filled gallery spaces’.

This year’s  judging panel included Rachel Whiteread, the first woman to win the coveted Turner Prize. Judges were required to select from a shortlist of six buildings. Among the contenders for the 2016 top prize were Oxford University’s Weston Library, housed in a reinvigorated Grade II listed building, and Trafalgar Place, a high density housing development in Elephant and Castle, South London.

A free public gallery, Newport Street Gallery is described as ‘the realisation of Hirst’s long-term ambition to share his art collection with the public’. Hirst has been acquiring art since the late 1980s and has amassed a collection of over 3,000 works including pieces by Francis Bacon, Banksy, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, Pablo Picasso and Gavin Turk. At last night’s awards ceremony, RIBA President Jane Duncan praised Hirst for his contribution to UK art and 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”, Duncan said.

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