Posted Thursday 9 September 2021
Kingston University's Town House has been named one of Britain's best new buildings, scooping a coveted 2021 RIBA National Award for architecture.
The Royal Institute of British Architects announced the flagship building as one of 54 winners from across the country in this year's awards, recognising its significant contribution to architecture in the United Kingdom. The winning projects will form the longlist for the Stirling Prize – the UK's most prestigious architecture award – with the shortlist due to be announced next week.
Town House, which opened at the University's Penrhyn Road campus in January 2020, was designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning Grafton Architects and built by three-time Education Constructor of the Year winner Willmott Dixon. As part of a bold vision to create an inspirational new learning space that acts as a gateway to the University for borough residents and businesses, the six-storey building houses a three-floor academic library, archive, dance studios and a studio theatre.
The design incorporates an open staircase, covered internal courtyard and cafes, as well as a variety of external spaces including balconies, an outdoor reading room and two rooftop gardens. The building also boasts BREEAM Excellent certification – a leading sustainability quality mark for masterplanning projects and infrastructure.
The RIBA jury said Town House "framed a bold aspiration to design the beating heart for Kingston University within a building worthy of the international stage". It added: "This building is about high quality at every scale… nothing is out of place, everything is considered, and the result is a rich, beautiful canvas against which to set young creative minds free."
recent RIBA London awards, which saw the institution named Client of the Year alongside individual accolades for Town House and Kingston School of Art's revamped Mill Street Building.The national award follows the University's success in the
Town House being named one of the country's best new buildings by RIBA was an accolade that truly reflected the scale of the University's ambition when it set out to deliver a world-class building of which students, staff and visitors alike could be proud, Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said. "Great architecture has the power to transform people's experiences, to uplift and inspire. Town House is a stunning architectural achievement that benefits our University community but also acts as a gateway to the institution for the borough," he said.
"Providing welcoming and inviting environments for our students as well as our staff and visitors is a key part of our commitment as an institution to the future of campus-based education."
The University's Director of Estates and Sustainability, Sean Woulfe, said the national recognition was testament to the University's real and enduring commitment to design excellence and true sustainability. "Town House is a statement of confidence for Kingston University and a building that really enhances the learning of our students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to university," he said.
"It has transformed the image of the University in the borough, becoming a catalyst for changing the way we do things and providing a new front door to our campus for the wider community. We are honoured that this wonderful building has been awarded a RIBA national award."
The 2021 RIBA National Award winners were an intelligent and refreshing collection of exemplary projects, illustrating the enduring importance and impact of British architecture, RIBA President Simon Allford said.
"There are a good number of well-designed school and university buildings that are powerful investments in the future, and I am sure they will inspire young people, their teachers and communities," he said. "Well-designed education facilities should be the rule rather than the exception – every child deserves an effective learning environment and these projects provide rich inspiration."