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Mon October 18 2021

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Sainsbury Laboratory wins architecture prize

15 Oct 12 Architecture’s top prize, the RIBA Stirling Prize for the best building of the year, has been won by the Sainsbury Laboratory, a new plant research centre in Cambridge designed by architects Stanton Williams.

While London Olympic structures missed out, the Olympic Delivery Authority and LOCOG won the 2012 RIBA Client of the Year award.

Now in its 17th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the architects of the best new European building built or designed in the UK. Stanton Williams get a trophy and £20,000.

This is the first time that Stanton Williams has won or been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Set within the University of Cambridge Botanic Gardens the low-rise, collonaded stone and glass laboratory is designed to complement its Grade II listed garden setting. 

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The judges said: “The Sainsbury Laboratory is a timeless piece of architecture, sitting within a highly sensitive site, one overlooking the woods where Darwin walked with his tutor and mentor Henslow, discussing the origin of species. In this project Stanton Williams and their landscape architects have created a new landscape, a courtyard which flows out into the botanical gardens. The project is both highly particular and specialised, and at the same time a universal building type, taken to an extraordinary degree of sophistication and beauty.”

RIBA president Angela Brady said: “The Sainsbury Laboratory is an exceptional building that achieves at many levels – in blending a world-class science facility with a public social space in a highly energy efficient building.”

The Sainsbury Laboratory was chosen by the judges from the following shortlist:

  • The Hepworth Wakefield by David Chipperfield Architects
  • London Olympic Stadium by Populous
  • The Lyric Theatre by O’Donnell + Tuomey
  • Maggie’s Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA
  • New Court by OMA with Allies and Morrison

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