Practice behind univeristy’s award-winning Town House building among those on shortlist

Grafton Architects, the practice which last year won a Stirling Prize for its Town House building at Kingston University, is facing off against two other recipients of architecture’s top gong on a shortlist to design another building at the university.

Stirling winners Haworth Tompkins and Caruso St John Architects are both in the running for a RIBA competition for a £23.5m teaching facility located close to the university’s Knights Park campus.

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Grafton Architects’ Town House won the Stirling Prize in 2021

The other practices on the six-strong shortlist to design the Middle Mill building are Carmody Groarke, Hall McKnight and Reiach and Hall.

The scheme will include a 200-seat lecture theatre, an exhibition space, specialist teaching studios with “enhanced acoustic performance”, a faith and spirituality facility and office space for staff.

RIBA said the building will be highly sustainable and will need to epitomise the university’s “art school character”. The winning design will also need to reflect this in the site’s public realm, which has been allotted a £1.5m budget.

The scheme is part of the university’s newly launched Town House strategy, which sets out an ambition to “progressive new model of education”.

The strategy has been named after Grafton Architects’ building, which also won Europe’s Mies van der Rohe Award. The library, exhibition, dance and teaching space is located at Penrhyn Road campus, about 10 minutes walk from Knights Park campus through Kingston town centre.

The university’s vice chancellor Steven Spier, who led the evaluation panel for the Middle Mill building, said “world-class architectural design helps drive educational quality and innovation”.

Spier said the Town Hall strategy “embodies our commitment to embedding creativity, innovation and future skills at the heart of our students’ education”.

The shortlisted teams will now outline their approach to the project, with a winner being selected and announced early in 2023.

Construction is scheduled to start on site in late 2026 with the building to open by September 2029.