2012 RIBA Lubetkin Prize shortlist

Wednesday 25 Jul 2012

China, Malaysia, US and Singapore make impressive international shortlist

Foster + Partners, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, TR Hamzah and Yeang and CPG, and SCDA Architects are battling it out for the coveted 2012 RIBE Lubetkin Prize after the shortlist was revealed this morning. The global spread of projects is diverse, with Foster + Partners’ Sperone Westwater in New York taking on Wilkinson Eyre Architects’ Guangzhou International Finance Centre in China, SCDA Architects’ One KL in Kuala Lumpar and Solaris in Singapore by TR Hamzah and Yeang and CPG.

The winner of the award will be announced at the Stirling Prize Awards Ceremony on 13 October in Manchester, UK. The Lubetkin Prize is awarded annually in memory of Berthold Lubetkin who died in 1990. A Georgia-born architect, Lubetkin sketched the plans for two residential blocks in London’s Highgate and the Penguin Pool at London Zoo under the name of his own firm Tecton Group.

Speaking on this year’s shortlist, Angela Brady, RIBA President said: “We have four highly experienced architecture practices on the 2012 RIBA Lubetkin Prize Shortlist offering sophisticated yet lively responses to complex and very different sites. These cutting-edge buildings show the leading role that architects play in creating low-energy living and working spaces, even in extreme environmental conditions.”

The Guangzhou International Finance Centre is a £600m towering cylinder which holds the title of the tallest realised building designed by a British architect anywhere in the world. 438.6m high, its diagonal grid structure is encased in a glittering crystalline skin. An angular atrium defines the internal space and all office and hotel units are exposed to the raked concrete-filled steel tubes that form the basic building structure.

In comparison, SCDA Architects’ One KL in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia is a modest form at only 35 storeys. Designed for the Waterfront Group, this 45,245 sq m project is a residential building in an exclusive area of the city in a ‘C’-shaped form. This arrangement means that the structure has three fronts and three backs which draw wind and negative pressure, pushing it up the void left by the missing fourth elevation and ventilating the structure through cuts made by terraces and pools.

Solaris is a curvaceous residential community in One North, Singapore designed by TR Hamzah and Yeang and CPG. Its banded white exterior is interrupted by a series of green ribbons formed by a narrow landscaped ramp which encircles the building for 1.5km. Solaris is split into two units: one seven storeys high, the other fourteen storeys. Both are highly sustainable in their design with vast quantities of daylight and natural ventilation, extensive landscaping, sun-shading louvres and broad light wells.

Foster + Partner’s Sperone Westwater gallery in New York City is a triumphant display of intelligent design in difficult conditions. The site is only 7.6m wide and 30.5m deep however Foster + Partners’ skinny form holds its own in a city rammed with up and coming galleries. At night, the milled glass exterior shines like a beacon as it is illuminated from within, its scarlet lift system punctuating the otherwise monochromatic palette. Internally there is a double-height lobby and curving mezzanine gallery space, elegantly decorated to provide a subtle background for the work on display.

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