The Stirling Prize jury shouldn’t be distracted by politics

Architects' Journal

Author Will Hurst aregues that "while questions should be asked, the prize needs to go to the best piece of architecture". An extract:

Should ethical and political considerations affect judgements on architecture? It’s a question begged by three of the six authors discussing this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize nominated buildings in AJ’s Stirling issue. While dRMM’s Trafalgar Place is probably the most controversial development on the list (and is expected to face a protest on the night of the awards from the group Architects for Social Housing because of its alleged role in south London gentrification), the Blavatnik School of Government and to a lesser extent Newport Street Gallery have also been queried on ethical grounds. Architecture is by its nature political, so these questions deserve to be asked. But should they really affect the jury’s deliberations? The RIBA says the prize is judged against a range of criteria including ‘design vision; innovation and originality; capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors; accessibility and sustainability; how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction’. In other words, judges are tasked only with weighing up questions of design quality rather than considering tricky issues about where a building’s funding has come from or what effect a project might have on an area’s existing community.