Grafton Architects Wins RIBA Stirling Prize for Kingston University Town House

Grafton Architects’ Kingston University London Town House was named the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize Winner by The Royal Institute of British Architects. This distinction is due to the progressive approach of the educational program. It recognizes the creation of a democratic, open space that encourages appropriation as well as social cohesion. The Pritzker laureates Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell’s first project in the UK is the design resulting from a 2013 RIBA Competition.

© Dennis Gilbert

The Town House was created to connect Kingston University students with the community. It creates a new civic space which facilitates learning, encourages collaboration and fosters a sense of belonging. The colonnade of the building makes it a welcoming presence on the street. The interior features voids and staircases linking the different functions, creating a rich experience that allows for activities to intertwine.

© Dennis Gilbert

The Kingston University Town House is a theatre of life, a repository of ideas. It brings together students and towns, creating a new model of higher education that is well-deserving international attention. This innovative architecture allows quiet reading, loud performance and research to co-exist in a delightful way. This is no easy feat. Education is our future. This must be the future. Norman Foster on behalf of the jury for the 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize

The winning project was chosen because of its ability to inspire and capture the spirit of learning. The jury’s report praised the spatial solution of the two opposing uses (a dance studio and library) as well as the resultant dynamic. The building’s environmental performance and execution were also recognized. Grafton Architects’ project has been awarded numerous RIBA Awards, including the National and Regional awards and London South West Award.

© Alice Clancy

We wanted a place where students could feel at home. This building is all about people, interaction and light. It’s about connecting with the community, passer-by, and an invitation to cross over the threshold. This three-dimensional framework is filled with layers of silence, layers of sound, and layers. The organizers are space, volume, and light. Building edges are not lines, but spaces for active gathering, such as terraces and galleries. You are only a few steps from the great outdoors. We were given this vision by Kingston University, which we turned into a spatial open grid. We are thrilled that Kingston Town House won the prestigious Stirling Prize. Grafton Architects

Norman Foster was the chair of the 25th edition jury. He was assisted by Mina Hasman, an architect and sustainability expert. Tintagel Castle Footbridge was designed by William Matthews Associates and Ney & Partners. The UK’s Best New Buildings were shortlisted this year by Cambridge Central Mosque by Marks Barfield Architects. Key Worker Housing in Cambridge was created by Stanton Williams. Windermere Jetty Museum is by Carmody Groarke. 15 Clerkenwell Close was designed by Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects.

© Alice Clancy