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Your silver plated value

There may be only one Stirling winner, but all six on the shortlist demonstrated the tangible benefits of good design

The recent Stirling Prize shortlisted buildings were conceived in an economically challenging time, and yet demonstrate a remarkable investment in architecture. But what tangible outcomes have they delivered? An early examination of each is encouraging.

The Aquatics Centre, by Zaha Hadid Architects, has had more than 500,000 visitors since it opened in March this year – nearly double those anticipated; the Better Swim School has grown to 2,440; the overall pre-paid membership base is 1,778; and since the Olympics and Para Olympics the venue has hosted the World Diving Series, National Paralympic Day, the Invictus Games and BBC Sports Relief.

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock Building at the LSE has given a heart to a disparate campus which previously lacked any focus. It is generous to its immediate context. It brings together a lot of functions: students union, careers advice, gym, faith centre, cafés, bar and an event space, that were previously scattered. Seeing it packed with students during Freshers’ Week showed how this building engenders a sense of vibrancy.

The new City of Birmingham Library, by Mecanoo, has an open welcoming foyer with cafés and two levels of landscaped terraces which are fully publicly accessible, as well as all the usual library facilities; a truly communal building. In terms of use, the old library had 1.25m visitors a year; the new one 2.7m. 

What tangible outcomes have the shortlisted Stirling six delivered? An early examination of each is encouraging

David Crow,  dean of the new Manchester School of Art, says cross departmental working was previously something that happened on paper, by memos and the like. He now sees physical engagement every day as students move between the floors of their department rooms to talk and work together. FCBS’s School of Art saw a 13% rise in applications (under and post graduate) from 2013/14-2014/15, against an average rise of 5% for the creative arts and design sector.

Visitor numbers for performances have increased by 20% in Haworth Tompkins’ Everyman Theatre in Liverpool compared to the old building, without increased capacity. The new Youth Theatre space for young amateur actors, producers and technicians attracts an additional 250 users a week.

Finally, The Shard, by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, is a true mixed-use community with a health clinic, restaurants, bars and viewing platforms all publicly accessible, plus offices, hotel and apartments. It also has hugely improved the public realm with better access to London Bridge mainline and underground stations. Since it opened in February 2013, the View from the Shard has been used by 1.5m visitors. It is already at capacity in terms of visitor numbers.

In 2011, at the initiative of my predecessor Ruth Reed, the RIBA published a piece of research entitled, Good Design; it all adds up. This sought to identify the value that thoughtful and responsive architecture brings to a quality of life, and that it brings more to a building than aesthetics and form. Moreover, it showed what performance aspects are important to clients, and that architecture can deliver real and tangible outcomes. We are seeking to add to the evidence base of the benefits of well-designed buildings, and this has begun with an evaluation of workplace design. 

We can surely build on the profile of the Stirling Prize to raise the awareness of the value and impact of architecture in delivering better outcomes for our clients. 





On 22 January 2014 the RIBA Hearings Panel found Mr Murat Tabanlioglu of Istanbul was guilty of breaching Principle 1.3 and 3.1 of the RIBA Code of Conduct regarding integrity and relationships in that he made statements which were unfair or contrary to his professional knowledge, and that he failed to appropriately acknowledge the contribution of others. The panel decided that the sanction for this be suspension from membership for a period of three months.

On 5 August 2014 the RIBA Hearings Panel found Eric Erikson of London was guilty of breaching Principles 1 and 2 of the RIBA Code of Conduct regarding integrity and competence. The panel upheld the Arb decisions that he failed to correctly advise his client, failed to carry out work conscientiously, and acted with a lack of integrity. The panel decided that the sanction for this be suspension from membership for a period of 12 months.

On 5 August 2014 the RIBA Hearings Panel found that Mr Joshua Berry of London was in breach of Principle 2 (Competence) of the RIBA Code of Conduct in that he received a criminal conviction as a result of a failure to comply with listed building consent. The panel decided that the sanction for this be a public reprimand.