Diarmuid Gavin to replace Lauren Laverne on prestigious architecture prize jury

A celebrity gardener has been brought in to help judge architecture’s most prestigious prize after two of the five original judges resigned from the jury.

Diarmuid Gavin, presenter of Gardeners' World, has been drafted in to be this year’s celebrity judge for the Stirling Prize after the first choice, Culture Show presenter Lauren Laverne, pulled out.

Ben van Berkel, an architect at Dutch practice UN Studio, has also resigned from the jury, to be replaced by Czech architect and former Cabe commissioner Eva Jiricna.

Diarmuid Gavin

Both Laverne and van Berkel blamed time issues for retiring from the Stirling jury. Laverne has recently had a baby, and it is understood the time commitments required to be a judge were too great for her.

Sources close to the judges said that the RIBA had been frantically trying to replace the departed pair for around a fortnight. The Stirling Prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Liverpool on October 11, and televised on Channel 4 the night after.

All five judges must now visit the six shortlisted buildings during the six-week period before the prize is awarded.

As well as being an award-winning gardener, Gavin also presents several horticultural TV programmes and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

Previous celebrity Stirling judges have included Mariella Frostrup (2006), Joan Bakewell (2005), and Stella McCartney (1999).

A RIBA spokesperson said: “Although every effort is made to ensure the judges’ availability well in advance of the site visits, clashes with schedules and other extenuating circumstances can arise, and it is just something that has to be dealt with.”

The architects nominated for this year’s Stirling Prize are Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Allies & Morrison, Denton Corker Marshall, Grimshaw/Arcadis, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios/Alison Brooks Architects/Macreanor Lavington, and Zaha Hadid.