2019 Stirling Prize shortlist includes London Bridge station and house made of cork

London Bridge station is among the buildings nominated for this year's Stirling Prize
London Bridge station is among the buildings nominated for this year's Stirling Prize Credit: Paul Raftery/Riba/PA

A whisky distillery, a train station and an opera theatre are among the six finalists for the prestigious Stirling Prize, which celebrates the best new building in Britain

Now in its 23rd year, the British prize for excellence in architecture has also shortlisted a contemporary art gallery and a large development of energy-efficient council housing. 

“The Stirling Prize shortlist epitomises the enviable global reputation of UK architecture," said Ben Derbyshire, president of the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA). "Given the fact [that] the UK faces the worst housing crisis for generations and a global climate emergency, we must encourage their architectural ambition, innovation, bravery and skill.

“From the way that Cork House experiments with entirely plant-based materials, to Goldsmith Street’s ultra-low energy affordable homes, each of these six buildings push the boundaries of architecture, exceeding what has been done before, and providing solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our times." 

Last year, the RIBA Stirling Prize was awarded to Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London, designed by Foster + Partners. The judges were unanimous in their decision to crown the highly-innovative “once-in-a-generation project” as the UK’s best new building.

Cork House

Cork House in Berkshire. Credit: DAVID GRANDORGE

On this year's shortlist for the first time is Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, who have been shortlisted for Cork House in Berkshire, an ingenious, experimental, carbon-neutral private house made almost entirely from cork.

Mr Howland said the building is “an innovative and thought-provoking response to pressing questions about the materials that we build with”. One of the judges called the project “the first of its type” and “a noble, momentous model to aspire to”.

Goldsmith Street

Highly energy-efficient homes on Goldsmith Street in Norwich. Credit:  Tim Crocker

Goldsmith Street by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley is one of the largest, high density, urban social housing in Norwich.

The simple series of 105 highly energy-efficient homes designed to Passivhaus standards for Norwich City Council, has brought reduced energy consumption. 

London Bridge Station

Renovated London Bridge Station by Grimshaw Architects. Credit: Paul Raftery

This isn't any old train station. London Bridge was radically reconfigured, and now it has a new voluminous, light-filled concourse.

The urban sculpture that sits in one of London’s busiest stations was developed by Grimshaw, which was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2001 for the Eden Project and in 2008 for Bijlmer Arena Station in Amsterdam.

Mark Middleton, a partner at Grimshaw, described the building “a chameleon that has to respond to the different views and angles of the city”.

Nevill Holt Opera

Contemporary Nevill Holt Opera in Leicestershire. Credit: Hélène Binet

Witherford Watson Mann Architects, which won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013 for Astley Castle, has been shortlisted again for Nevill Holt Opera in Leicestershire. 

They worked with acoustic consultants Sound Space Vision to create a space with warm acoustics specifically tuned for musicians and singers. “For 10 to 15 years we have developed an attitude towards transforming new buildings and bringing them to life.”

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in Moray. Credit: Joas Souza

The dynamic Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience is a high-tech visitor centre with an undulating grass-covered roof.

Situated in Moray, Scotland, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners "successfully conceals an exceptionally well resolved fusion of architecture, whiskey technology and impactful interior" that displays the heritage of the Macallan brand, according to one of the judges.

The Weston, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Weston, Yorkshire Sculpture Park Gallery in Yorkshire. Credit: Mike Dinsdale

Sitting in the grounds of Bretton Hall, The Weston, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an 18th century country park estate with a new exquisite gallery.

Feilden Fowles Architects "significantly improved its immediate environment, providing a sunny west-facing terrace, which has given visitors an opportunity to look across the park from its panoramic glazed wall that gently curves to embrace the landscape," said one of the judges.

The winner of the award, sponsored by developer Almacantar, will be announced at the Roundhouse in London on Oct 8 2019.