Burntwood School, a large comprehensive girls’ school in Wandsworth, London by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2015 for the UK’s best new building. Now in its 20th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize, sponsored by Almacantar, is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize.
AHMM’s transformation of Burntwood School reimagines a 1950's modernist secondary school campus for 2000 girls and 200 staff. The architects created six new faculty buildings and two large cultural buildings linking original buildings by renowned 1950s/1960s architect Sir Leslie Martin. Every building is full of light and air with double height spaces at the end of each corridor to increase natural daylight and create well-framed views. It offers a range of teaching spaces from conventional classrooms to interactive open spaces. Already a very sculptural building, AHMM worked closely with an artist to use large, colourful murals throughout the buildings – cleverly combining signposting with modern art.
Comments from the judges:
"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.
'Burntwood is technically sophisticated in its use of prefabrication, its low-energy strategy and the minimal disruption to teachers and pupils during construction. It even has its own high street with a covered walkway formed from off-the-peg bus-shelters. Furthermore, the sculptural quality of the finely modelled concrete facades and the lush campus setting enhance the sense of the place.
'Burntwood sets a standard in school design that every child in Britain deserves. It is a culmination of many years of creative toil by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in designing schools up and down the country. This is their masterpiece.”
This is the first time AHMM has won the RIBA Stirling Prize. They have been shortlisted three times for previous projects: Westminster Academy (2008), Kentish Town Health Centre (2009) and for the Angel Building, London (2011).