Friday's awards ceremony was followed by an alcohol-fuelled evening of rumours, tittle-tattle and outspoken opinions
Kerching! As regular readers of my blog will know, I’ve been harping on about AHMM being the favourite for the Stirling for weeks, but clearly my gambling-related endorsement of Accordia on Friday must have had an effect on the judges. Its victory on Saturday night has netted me a cool £50, which will about make up for what I spent on vodka tonics at the Stirling after party.
It was a rare night of celebration (almost) without abandon. Talk of the credit crunch was mostly jettisoned in favour of scurrilous rumours. My favourite was that perennial Stirling bridesmaid Zaha Hadid had somehow learned of Accordia’s success whilst travelling to Liverpool, and had turned her car around and gone back to London.
This seems fair enough to me. Had she been in the room when Feilden Clegg Bradley’s name was read out all faces would have turned to see one person’s reaction – and that person was not Keith Bradley. I did hear that the Nordpark ran Accordia a close second, so perhaps she is getting closer to the one gong that still eludes her. I predict it will be the 2012 aquatics centre that wins her the Stirling.
Most people felt it was a strong shortlist, though lots of people felt that Heathrow Terminal 5 should have been on it. Ken Shuttleworth’s comment to that effect on Channel 4’s TV coverage drew a round of applause from the crowd, and I don’t think it was just from the Rogers table. Everyone I spoke to was extremely positive about the award - except one architect.
This chap, who wisely told me he didn’t want his name printed, told me frankly that all this year’s shortlisted projects were “complete crap” and “totally ignorant of what is going on in architecture at the moment”. Quite what is going on in architecture at the moment he would not say. Not much in the current financial climate, is my suspicion.
A comment I heard a few times during the night was that the Stirling Prize nominees were “ordinary” – but no-one who used that word meant it as an insult
I happen to think this architect is a bit of a prat, but I know why he said what he did. A comment I heard a few times during the night was that the Stirling Prize nominees were “ordinary” – but no-one who used that word meant it as an insult.
For the first time, a law court was on the shortlist. A school was considered the favourite. A housing scheme won it! Who would have predicted that, looking at the dire state of housing design in the UK in 2008? It seems to me that the whole thing about this year’s shortlist is it exactly reflects what’s going on in architecture at the moment – or reflects exactly what should be. Good design going into everyday buildings.
My only question is what will be on next year’s list – or worse, the year after that. Given the depth of the financial ice bath we are about to be plunged into, it seems likely that foreign projects will make up the majority of the list before long. I spoke to Davis Langdon chairman Rob Smith about this – himself involved with three of the six shortlisted schemes - who reckoned that it will only be a couple of years before Middle Eastern projects dominate the list.
Of course, two of the six projects on this year’s list were built overseas – and the last two winners have been in Germany and Spain. But it would be a shame if our most involving, dynamic architecture is largely built outside of Europe. The joy of this year’s Stirling nominees is that they are all buildings you might stumble across, be it on your way to work in West London or a weekend jaunt to Amsterdam, or a cycle ride in the suburbs of Cambridge.
The RIBA and Cabe have done much to ensure that good design is at the heart of everyday buildings. I hope that clients continue to consider this – and the Stirling judges continue to award architects for it.