Newport Street Gallery Wins 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize

John Hill
7. October 2016
Photo: Hélène Binet

Caruso St John's gallery in Vauxhall, south of London, which serves as a free public gallery for artist Damien Hirst's private art collection, has won the annual prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) that honors the UK's best new building.

This is Caruso St John's first RIBA Stirling Prize victory but the third time they were shortlisted for the coveted prize (previously: Brick House in 2006 and New Art Gallery Walsall in 2000). The London firm led by Adam Caruso and Peter St. John beat out shortlisted projects by Herzog & de Meuron and WilkinsonEyre, among others.

Newport Street Gallery consists of the conversion and transformation of a number of buildings along a Vauxhall street facing railroad tracks. New additions in pale red brick with LED panels facing the tracks stitch the assemblage together into five interconnected buildings.

Comments from the jury per a RIBA press release:

This highly accomplished and expertly detailed art gallery is a bold and confident contribution to the best of UK architecture. Caruso St John’s approach to conservation is irreverent yet sensitive and achieves a clever solution that expresses a poetic juxtaposition of old and new. ... The collection of buildings is beautifully curated, pulled together by the use of brick yet still expressive of their individuality. The playful use of LED technology gives a contemporary addition to the facade. ... Internally, the five buildings are connected as a continuous and coherent sequence of light filled gallery spaces. The simple and logical circulation is enlivened by exquisitely detailed and sensuous staircases. ... The gallery, which is free of charge, is a generous asset to an evolving community.

Partner Peter St John accepted the award at a ceremony last night. He said in a statement: 

It's rare for architects to be given the opportunity to realise a personal vision of the quality of the Newport Street Gallery, and for that vision to have a generous public dimension. We see the building as a palace for direct, intimate and luxurious encounters with contemporary art, and we are very pleased that this award will bring more people to see this extraordinary collection.

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