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 RIBA National Award Winners 2015
RIBA National Award Winners 2015 For Architectural Excellence Announced - ArtLyst Article image

RIBA National Award Winners 2015 For Architectural Excellence Announced

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The winners of the 2015 RIBA National Awards, the most rigorous and prestigious prize for new buildings in the UK have been announced by The Royal Institute of British Architects. The National Award-winning buildings set the standard for good architecture. The shortlist for the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best building of the year have been drawn from the 37 award-winning buildings on the list.

Award winners include a beautifully-crafted wooden fishing hut on a small new estate in Hampshire (Fishing Hut), a crisp, modern malt whisky distillery inspired by the shape of a barley sheaf (Dalmunach Distillery), a patterned red-brick church centre and apartments surrounding a listed church in Hackney (St Mary of Eton) and a modest and calm cancer care centre (Maggie’s Lanarkshire).

The stand-out trend of the 2015 RIBA National Awards is the prevalence of high quality new housing developments. One quarter (8) of the 37 award winners are housing projects by developers ranging from large housebuilders and housing associations to smaller bespoke schemes by private investors.

At a time when the lack of decent housing dominates the political agenda, amongst the winning projects are some exceptional examples of well-designed affordable and sustainable new developments. Great examples include the regeneration of over 200 homes on the Gorbals district of Glasgow (Laurieston Transformational Area) and, at the other end of the size scale, an elegant five-storey, 13-home affordable housing block for Peabody in East London (Darbishire Place).

Private housing developments include Richard Rogers’ housing towers on prime London real estate (Neo Bankside see top photo), a 45 home canal-side development in west London (Brentford Lock West) and 14 distinctive homes stepping down through a gap in the heart of St Andrews’ old town conservation area (West Burn Lane).

Exceptional education buildings also feature strongly on the winners list. From a small delightful nursery school for the University of Edinburgh (Arcadia Nursery), new state schools (Burntwood School, Ashmount Primary School), an independent school building (Uppingham School Science Centre) and a special needs school building (Alfriston School pool building) to major university buildings (University of Greenwich library building, Manchester Met Student Union), these projects will benefit generations of children, students and staff.

One quarter (9) of the RIBA National Award winners are private homes and garden buildings. Ranging from a stone and copper-clad tiny retreat buried in a Wiltshire garden (Myrtle Cottage Garden Studio), to an architect-owned low-energy house on the edge of a Somerset village (Dundon Passivhaus) and a strikingly modern family house in County Down (House at Maghera).

Speaking today, RIBA President Stephen Hodder said: “The RIBA National Awards provide a unique insight into UK construction, investment and design trends.

“The UK is blighted by poor-quality new housing and dilapidated school buildings, so I am delighted that the notable trends amongst this year’s RIBA National Award-winners are the volume of inspiring new housing and education projects. “I am particularly pleased to award an unprecedented number of housing developments. The innovative spirit of these projects sets them apart from the ubiquitous, uninspiring housing developments being built all over the country. Our award winners show it is possible to build exceptional new housing developments that are profitable, sustainable and desirable places to live.  “Well-designed school buildings have the power to inspire students and teachers. This doesn’t mean every new school needs to be a show-stopper - like Burntwood or Ashmount - but we must ensure that value for money and the best possible design go hand in hand. “One intriguing design trend is the use of brick, in all its hues (British, Danish), patterns and textures, as the dominant material for many of the award winners. Brick is firmly established in the British psyche as a safe, long-lasting, familiar material. Our award winners have used bricks to great effect – whether to respond contextually, or to imbue their buildings with humanist qualities. “The admirable aspect shared by every one of our winners is ambition. The combination of ambitious clients, architects, local leaders and a supportive local community leads to great new buildings. All 37 of our RIBA National Award winners should provide inspiration for developers, local authorities and architects alike and will delight generations to come.

The 37 buildings that have won a 2015 RIBA National Award are:


1. University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building, SE10 by Heneghan Peng architects

Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this delightful building houses the main university library and the departments of Architecture, Landscape and Arts.

2. Burntwood School, Wandsworth by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Bold, characterful new campus buildings with light-filled rooms and corridors add to a sense of this being a very collegiate school.

3. St Mary of Eton Church, Apartments and Community Rooms, Hackney Wick E9 by Matthew Lloyd Architects LLP

Three new buildings, including 26 new apartments, in patterned red brick that responds to the original Grade II* listed church.

4. The Foundry, SE11 by Architecture 00 Ltd

Refurbishment of an old shoe polish factory into a flexible building for ethical organisations; the expressive language of the architecture appropriately suggests informality, openness and the idea of a collective of individuals.

5. NEO Bankside, SE1 by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

New housing towers with exo-skeleton and external lifts on London’s South Bank - a well-mannered example of a structurally expressive architecture.

6. University campus for Hult International Business School, E1 by Sergison Bates architects

New undergraduate campus in a converted Grade II-listed brewery with a clear architectural identity and strong aesthetic sense.

7. Bonhams, W1 by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

Exemplary urban infill on an extremely complicated site. Grand new entrance and refurbished Deco facades.

8. Ashmount Primary School, N8 by Penoyre & Prasad

Exemplary zero-carbon school and nursery which carefully manipulates its plan and cross-section to draw in natural light and reveal woodland views.

9. Levring House, north London by Jamie Fobert Architects Ltd

Spacious and luxurious Danish-brick-clad house on the corner plot of a typical London mews.

10. Foyles, WC2 by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

Previously home to Central St Martins School of Art, this is more than just a bookshop. Behind the restored 1930s façade, is a mixed-use block with top floor apartments.

11. Kew House, TW9 by Piercy&Company

Bold, highly inventive and well-considered family house in patinated steel in a conservation area.

12. Brentford Lock West, TW8 by Duggan Morris Architects

45 unit housing scheme that sets a challenging standard for canal-side residential architecture in an area that has previously been ill-served by its developers.

13. Darbishire Place, E1 by Niall McLaughlin Architects

Dignified new 13-home Peabody apartment building, with refined proportions and details.

14. National Theatre (NT Future) by Haworth Tompkins

The assured front-of-house re-organisation gives the theatre greater clarity and a sense of arrival. It has radically transformed a new stretch of London’s South Bank.


15. Abode, Great Kneighton, Cambridge by Proctor and Matthews Architects

Extremely well-considered scheme of 300 medium density homes - a testament to the successful working partnership between architects and developer.


16. Parkside, Matlock by Evans Vettori Architects Limited

Modest apartment block cloaked in Derbyshire millstone block to blend in perfectly with the context.

17. Uppingham School Science Centre by Orms

New science department building that completes a courtyard. Inside and outside, feels like a top university department rather than a school.


18. Lancaster University Engineering Building byJohn McAslan and Partners

A taut and well-considered engineering building which accommodates the diverse functions of an engineering department around a central atrium.

19. Manchester Metropolitan University Student Union by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Enthusiasm and order – at its best this is a cultural building for the students of Manchester Metropolitan University.

20. The Whitworth, Manchester by MUMA

Extension to the 19th century Whitworth Gallery - carefully crafted spaces emerge seamlessly from the existing as an integral yet individualistic part of the whole assembly.


21. Alfriston School, Beaconsfield by Duggan Morris Architects

New swimming pool building that magically folds and twists to become a thing of great beauty: a timber grid shell propped delicately above the shimmering water.

22. Flint House, Waddeston by Skene Catling de la Pena

Accommodation for family members, guests and artists. Internally the spaces carefully frame the landscape and provide a rich sequence of experiences.

23. The Fishing Hut by Niall McLaughlin Architects

A sophisticated primitive hut - timber-framed and clad construction hovers over the lake, intended as a retreat for fishermen and a place for the owner’s family to unwind.


24. Sussex House by Wilkinson King Architects 

This sophisticated barn of cross-laminated timber stands proudly on a ridge overlooking the Sussex Downs. 

25. WWF-UK Headquarters Living Planet Centre, Woking by Hopkins Architects

A large barrel structure tethered by honest steel sections and connections, giving it the appearance of a lightweight tented hangar structure housing 340 staff in a wide, open-plan office environment.


26. Myrtle Cottage Garden Studio, Bradford on Avon by Stonewood Design

Impeccably detailed and beautifully crafted inside and out – a discreet space to work, sew, play guitar and sleep in.

27. Dundon Passivhaus, Compton Dundon by Prewett Bizley Architects 

Extraordinarily understated and unpretentious – a low-energy family home lovingly crafted by the architect client.


28. Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent by Feilden Clegg Bradley

A meticulous refurbishment of an existing Grade II* listed pottery which has clearly regenerated the area and trebled the size of the workforce.


29. Sheffield Cathedral, New Main Entrance and reordering by Thomas Ford & Partners

New front door for the cathedral, closing in a 1960s faux-Gothic porch, demolishing a link, and building a new entrance in stone and stainless steel


30. Cliff House, Southgate by Hyde + Hyde Architects

Complete yet modest piece of domestic architecture that is exemplary in both process and presence. Nothing screams for attention. But nothing has been overlooked.


31. Old See House, Belfast by RPP Architects Ltd with Richard Murphy Architects

Inviting and open new community mental health centre which promotes a sense of calm and well-being.

32. House at Maghera by McGonigle McGrath 

A Family house on the leeward side of the Mourne Mountains composed of two linear traditional building forms whose silhouette anchors the house to the ground and fixes it in the landscape.


33. Maggies Lanarkshire by Reiach and Hall Architects

Modest, low building that gathers a sequence of domestic-scaled spaces. Visitors enter a quiet arrival court, defined by the low brick walls and two lime trees. At once, a sense of dignity and calm is encountered.

34. Arcadia Nursery, University of Edinburgh by Malcolm Fraser Architects

Externally each age group’s playroom is clearly identifiable as a welcoming, contemporary domestic form which creates a sense of belonging - a single storey building with a large rooflight links the three pavilions.

35. West Burn Lane, St Andrews by Sutherland Hussey Architects

Located in a conservation area the scheme consists of six 4 bedroom houses and eight 2-3 bedroom apartments, organised as discrete volumes addressing a series of public and private urban courtyards.

36. Dalmunach Distillery by Archial Norr (Inverness Studio)

With a plan inspired by the shape of a sheaf of barley, the design is a conscious balance between the honest aesthetics of a crisp modern industrial building and one with a strong sense of place. 

37. Laurieston Transformational Area, Glasgow by Elder and Cannon Architects & Page Park Architects

201 affordable rented homes in a new layout of streets and mews settings, using a contemporary tenement form and providing a variety of housing types.

The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best building of the year will be selected from these winners and announced on Thursday 16 July. The winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced at a special event on Thursday 15 October in London.

The winners of the 2015 RIBA National Awards will be celebrated at a special event at the Serpentine Pavilion in London on 8 July, generously supported by Marley Eternit.

The Architects’ Journal is media partner for the RIBA National Awards and professional media partner for the RIBA Stirling Prize.

The RIBA Awards have been running continuously since 1966 and are judged and presented locally. No matter the shape, size, budget or location, RIBA Award winning schemes set the standard for great architecture all across the country. RIBA Awards are for buildings in the UK by RIBA Chartered Architects and RIBA International Fellows. Entries are to be submitted to the region or nation in which the building is situated. Winners are considered for the RIBA Stirling Prize.


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