Shortlist for 2010 Stirling prize is dominated by publicly funded schemes

The shortlist for the 2010 Stirling prize has been announced. This year is remarkable in that half of the six entries are museums and a further two are schools. The final nominee is a mixed-use scheme in London’s Shoreditch.

The strong presence of publicly funded schemes is significant and is arguably the shortlist’s biggest surprise. As the Age of Austerity dawns, it offers a last glimpse of a period when public funds were lavished on schools and museums. I suspect the 2011 list will be very different.

dRMM Architects’ vibrantly polychromatic Clapham Manor primary school and Theis + Khan’s sculpted Bateman’s Row House, both in London, are probably the surprise entries. They are by far the shortlist’s least extravagant nominees in both scale and budget, and neither practice has previously been shortlisted. This represents a welcome move away from the elitism that the Stirling prize has often been accused of and promises that future shortlists may represent a broader scope of British architecture.

More predictably, the 2007 winner, David Chipperfield, is nominated for his Neues museum in Berlin - a sensitive, empathetic restoration of neoclassical ruins. Rick Mather’s extension to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford explores similar territory, placing new galleries and an atrium behind a neoclassical facade to create a subtle spatial sequence.

While DSDHA’s Christ College school in Guildford provides an exquisitely crafted essay in social altruism and civic renewal, it is Zaha Hadid’s striking Maxxi in Rome that makes the strongest visual impact - and my money would be on this one to win. Zaha’s signature geometric experimentation is here and has forged an epic, swooping frenzy of sinuous curves and plunging voids that is as close to a building in motion as you’ll find.

  • The Stirling prize winner will be announced on 2 October.

The full shortlist

Ashmolean museum, Rick Mather Architects

Bateman’s Row, Theis + Khan

Christ’s College school, DSDHA

Clapham Manor school, dRMM

Maxxi museum, Zaha Hadid Architects

Neues museum, David Chipperfield Architects.