Fourth time lucky for Allford Hall Monaghan Morris with surprise winner Burntwood School

AHMM has won this year’s Stirling Prize.

The award was made last night by new RIBA president Jane Duncan at a ceremony at RIBA’s headquarters in Portland Place. TV and radio host Lauren Laverne made the presentation.

The practice beat Reiach and Hall’s Maggie’s Centre in Lanarkshire, MUMA’s Whitworth gallery in Manchester, Niall McLaughlin Architects’ Darbishire Place housing scheme in east London, the University of Greenwich by Heneghan Peng and Neo Bankside behind the Tate Modern by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners – which was the focus of a demonstration outside the venue.

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.”

AHMM was last a contender in 2011 with its redevelopment of the Angel office building in Islington, north London. It was also shortlisted for the Kentish Town Health Centre in 2009 and Westminster Academy in 2008.

Paul Monaghan, director at Allford Hall Monaghan Morris said he hoped winning the Stirling Prize showed schools were worth investing in. He 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.”

The two projects not in the capital were both designed by first-time Stirling finalists while Richard Rogers was shortlisted for what would have been a record-breaking third Stirling Prize.

He holds the record for two jointly with Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Wilkinson Eyre.

Niall McLaughlin has again suffered disappointment after being the favourite in 2013 with a chapel in Oxfordshire while Heneghan Peng also missed out that year with its Giant’s Causeway visitor centre.

Bookies were split over who would win this year’s prize with the Maggie’s Centre the narrow favourite ahead of Darbishire Place and the Whitworth. The Whitworth won the BBC’s online audience choice poll with 38% of the votes.

The jury was chaired by Duncan and features Steve Tompkins, from last year’s winner Haworth Tompkins, Peter Clegg, from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, and Theresa Sackler, arts philanthropist.