Words:
Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Buildings designed with their users most prominently in mind

Last year’s Stirling Prize winner, dRMM’s Hastings Pier.
Last year’s Stirling Prize winner, dRMM’s Hastings Pier. Credit: Alex de Rijke

dRMM’s Alex de Rijke was right when he stepped up to accept the Stirling Prize last year; what was intriguing about the eventual winner was the fact that it was awarded more to a non-building than a building. That’s taking nothing away from the ingenious design of Hastings’ new visitor centre – a passing homage to Adalberto Libera’s Casa Malaparte – but the fact that most of the restoration involved the generation of empty space on the seafront that could be ‘occupied’ with events. It caught the imagination of the judges, winning the RIBA treble to finally scoop the 2017 Stirling Prize.

Coming in past the deadline for the RIBA Awards but in time for the Wood Awards was the practice’s less vaunted Maggie’s Oldham – a building no less designed for its users than Hastings. Executed in CLT hardwood tulipwood, the building floats on slender stilts in a garden, with all the interiors formed of the same warm, yellow timber as the exterior. Since those undergoing chemo-therapy can experience pain when touching cold objects, even door handles were made from timber – small details that made it the Wood Awards’ Education and Public Sector winner. 

50 - RIBA Stirling Prize winner: Hastings Pier        

25 - RIBA National Award: Hastings Pier

20 - RIBA Regional Award: Hastings Pier        

15 - Wood Awards category winner: Maggie’s Oldham    

10 - Wood Awards Commendation: Hastings Pier