Shortlist for UK architecture’s biggest prize out next week

Denizen Works_Floating Church Gilbert McCarragher 018 HiRes

Source: Gilbert McCarragher

Denizen Works’ floating church

A floating church, a home perched on a water tower, brutalist council offices given new life as a high-end hotel and key worker housing at Cambridge University are among 54 winners of this year’s RIBA National Awards.

Today’s announcement will trigger feverish speculation about which buildings will make it on to the Stirling Prize shortlist which is due to be announced next week.

The National Awards are viewed by many as the long-list for UK architecture’s highest accolade.

This year’s awards “showcase the extraordinary breadth and brilliance of UK architecture today”, said the judges.

They pulled some key trends from the list of winners, including the sensitive restoration and adaptation of existing buildings, investment in arts and culture and state-of-the-art higher education facilities and schools.

Carmody Groarke - Windermere Jetty (23)

Source: Christian Richter

Carmody Groarke’s Windermere Jetty Museum

Bennetts Associates pulled off three awards, for new offices for the Royal College of Pathologists in London, for the Bayes Centre, a research building for the University of Edinburgh, and for Jaguar Land Rover’s Advanced Product Creation Centre in Warwickshire.

Champing at Bennetts’ heels were Peter Barber Architects, with two London housing schemes, Carmody Groarke, with the Windermere Jetty Museum in Cumbria and the Hill House Box protecting a Charles Rennie Mackintosh mansion in Helensburgh from water ingress, and Stanton Williams, for its Cambridge housing and a research centre at Great Ormond Street.

David Levene 2.

Tintagel Bridge by William Matthews Associates and Ney & Partners

Honours also went to Stephenson Hamilton Risley Studio for the Oglesby Centre and cafe at Hallé St Peter’s in Manchester, 6a Architects for MK Gallery in Milton Keynes and Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates for the new footbridge at Tintagel.

There were also numerous awards for housing schemes, including Mae’s council housing development for people displaced by HS2, Coffey Architects’s Moor’s Nook housing for older people in Surrey, and Maccreanor Lavington’s Blackfriars Circus development in south east London.

Blackfriars Circus - Conquest Tower - by Maccreanor Lavington

Source: Tim Crocker

Blackfriars Circus - Conquest Tower - by Maccreanor Lavington

RIBA President Simon Allford described the winners as an “intelligent and refreshing collection of exemplary projects”.

“Ranging from radical, cutting-edge new designs to clever, creative restorations that breathe new life into historic buildings, these projects illustrate the enduring importance and impact of British architecture,” he said.

“There are a good number of well-designed school and university buildings that are powerful investments in the future, and I am sure they will inspire young people, their teachers and communities. I am also thrilled to see many of these make creative use of existing structures. Well-designed education facilities should be the rule rather than the exception – every child deserves an effective learning environment, and these projects provide rich inspiration.

“Looking ahead, as we design the low-carbon future, we must start by exploring the retention and reuse of existing buildings. And when a new building is essential, we need to make sure it will last and serve the future well – so it needs to be flexible and reusable.

“Long-life; loose-fit; low-energy architecture is the present and the future. It is therefore very encouraging to see restoration and sensitive adaptation feature so prominently this year; with many buildings acknowledging their history, the needs of the present and the potential of their dynamic future.

6a Architects' MK Gallery

6a Architects’ MK Gallery

“Arts and culture enrich our lives so, after 18 months of restrictions and isolation, the array of quality new museums, galleries and performance spaces is great to see and visit.”

>> Also read: Building Study: Royal College of Pathologists, London, by Bennetts Associates

 >> Also read: Technical Study: North West Cambridge housing by Stanton Williams


The 2021 RIBA National Award winners


Cambridge Central Mosque by Marks Barfield Architects

Imperial War Museums Paper Store, Duxford by Architype

Key Worker Housing, Eddington, Cambridge by Stanton Williams

The Water Tower, Norfolk by Tonkin Liu



95 Peckham Road, SE15 by Peter Barber Architects

Blackfriars Circus, SE1 by Maccreanor Lavington

Caudale Housing Scheme, NW1 by Mae Architects

Centre Building at LSE, WC2A by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners

Centre for Creative Learning, Francis Holland School, SW1W by BDP

English National Ballet at the Mulryan Centre for Dance, E14 by Glenn Howells Architects

Floating Church, E15 by Denizen Works

House-within-a-House by alma-nac

Kingston University London – Town House by Grafton Architects

Moore Park Mews, SW6 by Stephen Taylor Architects

North Street, IG11 by Peter Barber Architects

Royal Academy of Arts, W1J by David Chipperfield Architects

Royal College of Pathologists, E1 by Bennetts Associates

The Ray Farringdon, EC1R by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

The Rye Apartments, SE15 by Tikari Works

The Standard, WC1H by Orms

The Student Centre, UCL, WC1H by Nicholas Hare Architects

Tiger Way, E5 by Hawkins Brown

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, N17 by Populous

Wooden Roof, N1 by Tsuruta Architects

Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children, WC1N by Stanton Williams


North East

Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre Durham University by Faulkner Browns Architects


North West

Pele Tower House, Lake District by Woollacott Gilmartin Architects

The Gables, Liverpool by DK-Architects

The Oglesby Centre at Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester by Stephenson Hamilton Risley Studio

Windermere Jetty Museum by Carmody Groarke



Aberdeen Art Gallery by Hoskins Architects

Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh by Bennetts Associates

Sport Scotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde, Largs, North Ayrshire by Reiach and Hall Architects

The Egg Shed, Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead by Oliver Chapman Architects

The Hill House Box, Helensburgh by Carmody Groarke


South & South East

Brighton College – School of Science and Sport by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

Library and Study Centre St Johns College Oxford University by Wright & Wright Architects

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes by 6a architects

Moor’s Nook, Woking by Coffey Architects

The Clore Music Studios New College Oxford University by John McAslan & Partners

The Dorothy Wadham Building Wadham College Oxford University by Allies and Morrison

The King’s School, Canterbury International College by Walters & Cohen Architects

The Malthouse, The King’s School Canterbury by Tim Ronalds Architects

The Narula House, Berkshire by John Pardey Architects

Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Dover by Adam Richards Architects

Winchester Cathedral South Transept Exhibition Spaces by Nick Cox Architects with Metaphor


South West

Bath Schools of Art and Design by Grimshaw

Redhill Barn, Devon by Type Studio

The Story of Gardening Museum, Somerset by Stonewood Design with Mark Thomas Architects and Henry Fagan Engineering

Tintagel Castle Footbridge for English Heritage, Cornwall by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates

Windward House, Gloucestershire by Alison Brooks Architects



Maggie’s Cardiff by Dow Jones Architects


West Midlands

Jaguar Land Rover Advanced Product Creation Centre, Warwickshire by Bennetts Associates

Prof Lord Bhattacharyya Building, University of Warwick by Cullinan Studio