Stanton Williams' Sainsbury Laboratory wins Stirling Prize

Stanton Williams' Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2012 for the best building of the year. Now in its 17th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize, awarded to the architects of the best new European building built or designed in the UK.

The RIBA Stirling Prize judges said: “The Sainsbury Laboratory is a timeless piece of architecture, sitting within a highly sensitive site (...). In this project Stanton Williams and their landscape architects have created a new landscape, a courtyard which flows out into the botanical gardens. The project is both highly particular and specialised, and at the same time a universal building type, taken to an extraordinary degree of sophistication and beauty."

“The project seems simple, and this hides the fact that it was a hugely difficult building to achieve. It needed to provide flexibility for future changes in scientific practice, and it has achieved this brilliantly. The building had to balance openness with stringent requirements for security, which was done by placing the laboratories on the first floor, together with their own meeting places. Public access is on the ground floor in the form of a lecture theatre and meeting rooms, and, importantly, there is a charming café open to the public, which sits between the gardens and the lab’s private courtyard, and from which one can watch the goings-on within. This forms the buffer between the private and public zones."

The building uses fine materials expertly detailed; and beautifully integrates works of art commissioned from Susanna Herron, William Pye and Norman Ackroyd. The project’s profound sustainability is impressive, not only in terms of its excellent energy performance but also in terms of its long term flexibility and adaptability.”

Lord Sainsbury said:“I am delighted that Stanton Williams has won the RIBA Stirling Prize for the Sainsbury Laboratory, in competition with some outstanding buildings. I am also very proud to be associated with their inspiring building which sets a new standard for laboratory design and blends in beautifully with the historic Botanic Gardens.”

The Director of Estate Management for the University, Michael Bienias, said: “I’m delighted that the Sainsbury Laboratory has received the prestigious Sterling Prize. It’s testimant to the excellent design skills of the architects Stanton Williams and truly reflects the support they received from the entire project team.”

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