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Lubetkin Prize.

The Royal Institute of British Architects launched an award this year (supported by the AR) for the best work of architecture by an institute member outside the EU. Named the Lubetkin Prize after Berthold Lubetkin, perhaps the UK's most famous emigre architect of the twentieth century, the award is intended to complement the Stirling Prize (named after James Stirling), which covers work within the EU.

From a total of 10 schemes selected for RIBA international awards, judges shortlisted three for the Lubetkin Prize. Each was visited by a three-person judging team over a four-day period, with the awards presented at the end of June in London. The three buildings were the Red Location Museum of the People's Struggle, Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Noero Wolff); the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, Toronto, Canada (Behnisch Architekten with architects Alliance); and the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Canada (Moriyama & Teshima/Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects).


After long discussion, the judges felt that the greater complexity of programme and ambition put the two museums ahead of the laboratory, and the difficult choice had to be made between two very fine buildings, both of which, in different ways, address the issues of history, struggle, death and identity, in the context of individual and collective experience. In the end the Museum of Struggle was preferred--an inspiring and powerful piece of architecture, in a difficult and in some ways unlikely setting. The judges were RIBA president Jack Pringle, RIBA Awards Group chair Professor Jeremy Till, and AR editor Paul Finch. They were assisted by the RIBA's awards director, Tony Chapman.


Noero Wolff Architects Red Location Museum of the People's Struggle, New Brighton, South Africa

All museums concern memory and history; it was impressive to encounter one in which particular histories and memories have inspired an extraordinarily powerful architectural idea. The 'memory box', in which forced migrant workers from the countryside carried artefacts to remind them of home, forms the basis for a building which is in itself one huge memory box. It is designed in industrial form--with a saw-tooth roof--because trade union activity in factories provided the impetus for the anti-apartheid struggle; inside, steel containers respond to the rusting steel shacks (hence Red Location) which surround the site. The containers are tipped on end to make individual memory boxes, presenting curators with the equivalent of a blank canvas. The building works as both metaphor and literal object, deliberately unglamorous, yet capable of delivering more than one architectural proposition--for example the delightful communal theatre space. This is an architectural tour de force.


Moriyama and Teshima/Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects

Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Canada

This is a big building (300m in length) containing a huge amount of material. The dilemma was how to plan for large numbers of one-off visitors, while creating a memorial for those who visit regularly; how to respond to the city on one side and a more pastoral environment on the other; and how to create a civic facility for the city as a whole. The plan works extremely well, starting with an impressive entrance lobby (large enough to seat 600 for dinner) which can also act as a through route; the diagram of circulation and facilities is clear, separating the main intense exhibition areas from other facilities and more intimate spaces, which include a memorial chapel, a regeneration hall, and an artwork 'corridor'. The strong creative relationship between architects and client produced an outstanding building.




Behnisch Architekten with architects Alliance

Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, Toronto, Canada

A nicely judged landscaped approach leads to a generous lobby and entry sequence. A public ground floor pays homage to Corbusier with light chutes and free form asymmetrical pods. An atrium garden rises six storeys, giving occupants spectacular views as they emerge from their laboratories. Further up, punched bays provide break-out space with views across the city. The laboratories benefit from natural light, an absence of suspended ceilings, and a clear plan, with labs on the east side, a central service spine, and circulation corridor on the west. Elevations are treated separately: the southern double-glazed facade proves a strong transparent face to the street, with appropriate solar and acoustic control. Fritting and coloured panels are used on other facades in response to activity behind (workspace or circulation). This building says: science matters.


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Title Annotation:view; for best architectural work; Noero Wolff Architects, Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects, Behnisch Architekten
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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