Burntwood School wins Stirling Prize

burntwoodBurntwood School, designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris for Wandsworth Council, has won the Stirling Prize – the most prestigious award in British architecture.

The £40 million project, previously a winner of a Civic Trust Award, was among the last projects funded through the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

It beat off competition from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ NEO Bankside housing scheme, Reiach and Hall’s Maggie’s Centre, The Whitworth by MUMA, Heneghan Peng’s University of Greenwich, and Niall McLaughlin’s housing development for Peabody.

The judges said: “Burntwood School is the clear winner of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize. It is the most accomplished of the six shortlisted buildings because it demonstrates the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society.

“It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering. It is a genuine collaborative project. There was a wonderful working relationship between the head teacher and the architect: a true partnership of equals.”

Speaking at the awards ceremony, RIBA President Jane Duncan said: “Burntwood School shows us how superb school design can be at the heart of raising our children’s educational enjoyment and achievement.”

The school was extensively remodelled and rebuilt last year as part of a £40m improvement scheme. Its new-look campus boasts four brand new teaching blocks, a new performing arts centre and sports hall. An IT learning centre and new state-of-the-art science laboratories reinforce its reputation as a centre of excellence for science. Its assembly hall and swimming pool/gymnasium building were also extensively refurbished and modernised while the campus also benefited from major landscaping work.

The changes have enabled the school to cater for an additional 250 pupils, including an expanded sixth form of up to 400 students.

The building works were carried out by Lend Lease with the design work led by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM).

The Stirling Prize makes it a hat trick of major design awards for Burntwood. In March it won a Civic Trust Award and in July a prize in the 2015 New London Architecture (NLA) Awards.

Burntwood’s principal Helen Dorfman said: “The whole Burntwood School community is delighted and proud that the scheme has been recognised as being worthy of the Stirling Prize.

“Staff and students have said on many occasions that the new buildings have greatly improved the quality of their day-to-day experiences at the school and students comment that their commitment to learning has been enhanced.”

Wandsworth’s education spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “This is a stunning achievement for the school. It has been an amazing transformation that has retained all of the best elements of its original 1950s design and used those as the foundation for a bright, modern and hugely attractive and well laid out school campus that helps brings out the best in its pupils.”

Paul Monaghan, Director of AHMM said: “Schools can and should be more than just practical, functional buildings – they need to elevate the aspirations of children, teachers and the wider community. Good school design makes a difference to the way students value themselves and their education and we hope that Burntwood winning the RIBA Stirling Prize shows that this is worth investing in.”

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