Caruso St John wins coveted award for Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in south London

Caruso St John’s Newport Street Gallery in south London for Damien Hirst’s private art collection has scooped the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize.

The project involved the conversion of almost an entire street of listed industrial buildings into a free art gallery.

It is the first time the 1990-founded practice has won the Stirling Prize, and third time lucky after being shortlisted for Brick House, west London in 2006 and New Art Gallery Walsall in 2000.

An outsider at 5/1 with bookies William Hill yesterday morning, Caruso St John beat the favourite the Blavatnik School of Government by Herzog & de Mueron for the University of Oxford, which had been odds on at 5/2.

The collection of buildings is beautifully curated, pulled together by the use of brick yet still expressive of their individuality

Stirling Prize jury

Newport Street Gallery

Source: Source: Kioyar Ltd / Prudence Cuming Associates

Caruso St John - Newport Street Gallery

The other shortlisted projects to miss out were Wilkinson Eyre’s conversion of Bodleian’s grade I Weston Library, also for the University of Oxford; Loyn & Co’s subterranean house on the Welsh borders, Outhouse; Michael Laird with Reiach & Hall’s riverside campus for City of Glasgow College; and dRMM’s Trafalgar Place flats in south London.

Caruso St John was presented with the award at a special ceremony yesterday evening at the RIBA’s HQ in central London.

This year’s jury was chaired by Zaha Hadid Architects partner Patrik Schumacher, with Paul Monaghan, director of last year’s winner AHMM, Roisin Heneghan, co-founder of Heneghan Peng which was shortlisted last year, Mike Hussey, founder of property firm Almacantar, and the artist Rachel Whiteread.

In their citation, the jury said: “This highly accomplished and expertly detailed art gallery is a bold and confident contribution to the best of UK architecture. Caruso St John’s approach to conservation is irreverent yet sensitive and achieves a clever solution that expresses a poetic juxtaposition of old and new.

“The collection of buildings is beautifully curated, pulled together by the use of brick yet still expressive of their individuality. The playful use of LED technology gives a contemporary addition to the façade.

“Internally, the five buildings are connected as a continuous and coherent sequence of light filled gallery spaces. The simple and logical circulation is enlivened by exquisitely detailed and sensuous staircases.

“The gallery, which is free of charge, is a generous asset to an evolving community.”

RIBA President Jane Duncan said: “With Newport Street Gallery, Damien Hirst has made an exceptional contribution to the UK’s strong history of private patronage of architecture.

“Not only has Damien opened up his enviable private art collection to the world, but he has commissioned a real work of art to house it in.”

What the winners say

Peter St John, partner at Caruso St John Architects, said: “It’s rare for architects to be given the opportunity to realise a personal vision of the quality of the Newport Street Gallery, and for that vision to have a generous public dimension. We see the building as a palace for direct, intimate and luxurious encounters with contemporary art, and we are very pleased that this award will bring more people to see this extraordinary collection.”

Damien Hirst said: “Newport Street Gallery has realized my ambition to create an unobtrusive and beautiful series of buildings that work perfectly as a space to exhibit great art. I wanted to stay true to the history and roots of the building and Caruso St John understood that from the start. I am immensely proud of what we achieved and the reaction it has received in its first year of opening and hope people will continue to enjoy it.”

Shortlisted projects that missed out

Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford - by Herzog&de Meuron

Source: Iwan Baan

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford by Herzog & de Meuron

“A contemporary new building in a conservation area takes the traditional Oxford quad and tears up the rule book.”


City of Glasgow College, Riverside Campus by Michael Laird Architects and Reiach and Hall Architects

Source: Keith Hunter

City of Glasgow College, Riverside Campus by Michael Laird Architects + Reiach & Hall

“A new icon on the Glasgow skyline with a campus anchored by two generous civic spaces, a cloistered garden and grand hall.”


OutHouse, Gloucestershire by Loyn & Co

“An exemplary concrete house on the Welsh borders, designed for a couple of retired artists, it delights with unexpected spaces, some underground, with a field as the roof. The architect’s use of light, air and vistas make the absolute most of its sloping site and wide views.”



Trafalgar Place, Elephant & Castle by dRMM

“A a flagship development of 235 high density, high-quality homes set amongst retained mature trees and extensive landscaping; bringing a sense of tranquillity to a very urban location. Clever use of brickwork gives the new buildings an identity of their own; eight types of brick have been used, each one chosen to reference neighbouring buildings.”



Weston Library, Oxford - by Wilkinson Eyre

Source: John Cairns

Weston Library, University of Oxford by Wilkinson Eyre

“This Giles Gilbert Scott grade II-listed gem was once rather insular but has been transformed by a bold new glazed mezzanine to reveal to the public the treasures contained inside.”

Source: RIBA