AHMM's Burntwood School Wins Stirling Prize

John Hill
16. October 2015
Photo: Rob Parrish

Burntwood School, a girls’ school in Wandsworth, London designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, has won the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize, the 20th annual award for the UK’s best new building.

AHMM's transformation of Burntwood School consists of six new "buildings-as-pavilions" that piece together a 1950s campus for 2000 students and 200 staff. The new buildings include four 4-story teaching pavilions, a new sports hall and a new performing arts building, all placed about lawns, squares and a central pedestrian spine. The signature aspect of the project are the faceted precast concrete panels that follow the regular 7.5-meter grid of the floor plans but create variation through the sizes of the openings and other subtle changes.

Photo: Timothy Soar

Burntwood school bested the five other finalists: an apartment building, a cancer center, luxury housing, a university building, and a gallery. In a statement from the RIBA, the judges said of the school: "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."

Further, "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."

Upon receiving the Stirling Prize at an awards ceremony, AHMM Director Paul Monaghan 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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