Evelyn Grace Academy in London by Zaha Hadid Architects wins the RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 for the best building of the year
The Evelyn Grace Academy, a cutting-edge new secondary school in Brixton, south London by Zaha Hadid Architects has won the prestigious £20,000 RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 for the best new European building built or designed in the United Kingdom. This is the second year running that Zaha Hadid Architects have won the RIBA Stirling Prize; last year they won the award for their MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome; this year they have put the practice’s formidable reputation to great use by breaking new ground in school design.
A highly stylized zig-zag of steel and glass, the Evelyn Grace Academy is squeezed on to the tightest of urban sites (1.4 hectares – the average secondary school is 8/9 hectares). The architects received a complex brief: four schools under a single academy umbrella with the need to express both independence and unity. The architects were strongly encouraged by the client to ‘think outside the box’. With such a small space and with sport being one of the Academy’s ‘special subjects’ (each Academy school has one), the architects needed to be highly inventive. They succeeded, for instance by cleverly inserting a 100m running track into the heart of the site taking pupils right up to the front door. By dramatically celebrating the school’s specialism, the RIBA Stirling Prize judges noted ‘this is a design that literally makes kids run to get into school in the morning’.

Zaha Hadid said:
“It is very significant that our first project in London is the Evelyn Grace. Schools are among the first examples of architecture that everyone experiences and have a profound impact on all children as they grow up. I am delighted that the Evelyn Grace Academy has been so well received by all its students and staff.”



Photo by Hufton Crow.

Photo by Luke Hayes Copyright

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