Stirling Prize is a British prize given for excellence in architecture. This prize is named after architect James Stirling, who is also a British architect. This award is annually given by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to “The Architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year”. In 1996, this award first came into existence and only the members of RIBA can participate in this. From a long list of RIBA National Awarded buildings, some buildings are shortlisted and then the winner is decided. Before 1996, this award was called the “Building of the Year Award”. The main category in awarding this prize is that the building must show high architectural standards and it must have a lot of contribution to the local environment. 

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The symbol of RIBA Stirling Prize_©www.hga.wales

Sir James Frazer Stirling is a British architect born on 22 April 1926 in Glasgow. He did his schooling in Liverpool and studied architecture at the University of Liverpool from 1945 to 1950. Before starting his firm, he worked in numerous firms. He met his first partner, architect James Gowan, while he was working in London from 1952 to 1956. They started their firm in 1956 starting with a small project-development of private apartments, Langham House, close which was completed in the year 1958. When both architects started their practice, Lyon’s Israel Ellis gave them a part in which they can work with them in the Preston Housing project. This helped them to establish their reputation for innovative designs. The University of Leicester, which was built in the year 1959 to 1963, has brought Stirling a global audience. In 1963, the partnership ended and James Stirling became a solo partner. Until 1971, James Stirling had no partner and that is when Michael Wilford became his partner. Their partnership was called James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates. He won the Alvar Aalto Medal in 1977, RIBA Gold Medal in 1980, Pritzker Prize in 1981, and also Premium Imperial in 1990.

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Portrait of James Stirling_©2022 The Hyatt Foundation

Michael Wilford is also a British Architect born in 1938 in Hartfield, East Sussex. He started his architecture career at the Northern Polytechnic school of architecture, London, from 1955 to 1962. Later, he went to Regent Street Polytechnic Planning School, London, in 1967. He crossed paths with James Stirling and became his assistant in 1960. He looked into projects like the history faculty library at the University of Cambridge and The Florey Building accommodation block for The Queen’s College, Oxford, which was considered the prestigious projects in both James Stirling and Michael Wilford’s career. Later, in 1971, Michael Wilford formed a partnership with architect James Stirling and called it as James Stirling, Michael Wilford and associate. After the death of James Stirling, he changed the firm’s name to Michael Wilford and partners from 1993 to 2001. After 2001, he established firms located in England and Germany. In England, it is named Michael Wilford Architects and in Germany, it is known as Wilford Schupp, located in Stuttgart.

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Portrait of Michael Wilford_©www.archinform.net

The collaboration between them led to the creation of many prestigious buildings. One such building has also ripened into the Stirling Prize 1997. Other buildings are Staatsgalerie (State Gallery), Stuttgart, Germany (1979-84), No.1 Poultry, the City of London (from 1986), and The Lowry Centre, Salford, Manchester (from 1991). 

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The Lowry Centre_©www.manchestersfinest.com
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The interior of The Lowry Centre_©nstaaf.fandom.com

One of their finest projects is Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany, which is one of the projects that was selected for the Pritzker prize. It was started in 1979 and completed in 1984. This building is a perfect example of Postmodernism. This State Gallery Art museum has two locations, the Alte (old) Gallery and the Neue (new) Gallery. The Alte Staatsgalerie exhibits a collection of European Art – namely, German Renaissance paintings, Italian paintings from 1300 to1800, prints, and drawings and photographs. The Neue Staatsgalerie displays 20th-Century and 21th-Century artworks. James Stirling and Michael Wilford have given focus on the exhibits. 

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Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany_©www.greatbuildings.com
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The contrast of the building elements_©www.greatbuildings.com

The most attractive feature of this building is the open rotunda. They have mainly used the warm, natural elements of travertine and sandstone in classical forms which gives a contrast to industrial pieces of the green steel framing system. To reach the higher elevation, the pedestrians use a public footpath and ramp from the lower front of the building’s main entrance. The elevation of the building consists of different elements. The framing is achieved through the U- shaped layout of the museum. There are three huge sloping, curved windows in green colour, appearing like a grassy bank. It also contains bright pink and blue railing which gives a contrast to the building. The car parking is provided below the building. 

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Plan of Neue Staatsgalerie · Stuttgart, Germany_©www.greatbuildings.com
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Drawing of Neue Staatsgalerie · Stuttgart, Germany_©www.greatbuildings.com

The Stuttgart music school has made a milestone for James Stirling, Michael Wilford and associates by winning the Stirling Prize in 1997. The project began in 1987 and completed in 1996. The beginning of the University can be found in the year 1857, making it the oldest University Of Music in Baden-Wurttemberg. The gross floor area (GFA) of this building is ca.22.090 sq m. The architects have brought the characteristics of the inner city of Stuttgart into this building. The city is shaped by the road axis which helps to climb up the hillsides. In the same way, the concept is reflected to keep the axis between The Opera and Galatea Well free. The centre part of the building is occupied by a tower which has the central function of the building. It is a 3-storey concert hall with 500 seats, a library, and a senate hall. The rotunda of the Staatsgalerie is a wonderful feature of the building and can provide an intimate open-air concert.

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Stuttgart Music School_©www.orangeblu.com
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Concert hall of Stuttgart Music School_©www.orangeblu.com
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Plan of Stuttgart Music School_©www.orangeblu.com

After receiving the Stirling prize in 1997, Michael Wilford created some iconic buildings around the world. For example, The Lowry – is a theatre in Salford, England. It was completed in the year 2000 with a capacity of 1,730. The main architectural style used in this building is expressionist architecture. The Esplanade – The theatres on the Bay, Singapore. This building is named after the nearby park known as The Esplanade park. The building consists of a concert hall with about 1,600 seats and a theatre with a capacity of around 2,000 seats for the performing arts. This building was opened in 2002. The architectural style used in this building is modern architecture. It also contains an Opera House and a performing arts centre. The architects have seen through the culture of the locals and have designed accordingly.

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore_©www.modlar.com

References:

  1. Encyclopedia.com. n.d. Wilford, Michael | Encyclopedia.com. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/wilford-michael> [Accessed 22 May 2022].

  1. E-architect.com. n.d. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.e-architect.com/stuttgart/neue-staatsgalerie-stuttgart> [Accessed 22 May 2022].

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Sir James Stirling | British architect. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/James-Stirling> [Accessed 22 May 2022].

  1. Pritzkerprize.com. n.d. James Stirling | The Pritzker Architecture Prize. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.pritzkerprize.com/laureates/1981> [Accessed 22 May 2022].

  1. Orangeblu.com. n.d. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.orangeblu.com/uploads/tx_wsaprojects/70001_MHS_1BA_Datenblatt_Interior_EN.pdf> [Accessed 22 May 2022].

Author

Nivedhakavyasree is a young Architect who believes that her passion for writing and her love for architecture can be brought together. Bringing out a fictitious idea into everyone's vision is one of her areas of expertise. For her, the search for new is like a never-ending thirst.

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