Burntwood School, a large comprehensive girls’ school in Wandsworth, London by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2015 for the UK’s best new building. Now in its 20th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize. AHMM’s winning entry beat strong competition from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSH+P), Niall McLaughlin Architects, Heneghan Peng Architects, McInnes Usher McKnight Architects (MUMA) and Reiach and Hall Architects. Announced by RIBA president Jane Duncan, the selection was reported to have been a unanimous decision among the judges, with the school described as “a grown-up building to inspire grown-up behaviour.”
AHMM’s transformation of Burntwood School reimagines a 1950’s modernist secondary school campus for 2000 girls and 200 staff. The architects created six new faculty buildings and two large cultural buildings linking original buildings by renowned 1950s/1960s architect Sir Leslie Martin. Every building is full of light and air with double height spaces at the end of each corridor to increase natural daylight and create well-framed views. It offers a range of teaching spaces from conventional classrooms to interactive open spaces. Already a very sculptural building, AHMM worked closely with an artist to use large, colourful murals throughout the buildings – cleverly combining signposting with modern art. It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering.
Speaking at the award ceremony, RIBA President Jane Duncan said: “Burntwood School shows us how superb school design can be at the heart of raising our children’s educational enjoyment and achievement. Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, experienced school architects, have created a stunning campus. They have produced delightful, resourceful and energy efficient buildings that will benefit the whole community in the long term. With the UK facing a huge shortage of school places, it is vital we learn lessons from Burntwood. I am delighted to present architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris with the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize.”
Paul Monaghan, Director, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris said: “Schools can and should be more than just practical, functional buildings – they need to elevate the aspirations of children, teachers and the wider community. 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.”