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Timeless library earns top UK architecture accolade

October 14 2022

Timeless library earns top UK architecture accolade

The New Library, Magdalene College, at Cambridge University has been crowned as the 26th Stirling Prize winner by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Seeing off five other challengers; including Forth Valley College - Falkirk Campus by Reiach & Hall, the library earned praise for being 'built to last' while respecting its august setting; including the 17th-century Grade 1 listed Pepys Library.

Niall McLaughlin Architects have created a modern library which combines an archive and art gallery within a traditional load-bearing brick structure with pitched gables, tracery and sculptural ventilation chimneys, which also double as load-bearing supports for floors and bookcases.

Timber-lined interiors are bathed in natural light from vaulted lantern skylights between each set of four chimneys with desks set into bay windows and hidden in private niches.

RIBA president Simon Allford said: “A unique setting with a clear purpose – The New Library at Magdalene College is sophisticated, generous, architecture that has been built to last.

"Creating a new building that will last at least 400 years is a significant challenge, but one that Níall McLaughlin Architects has risen to with the utmost skill, care and responsibility."

McLaughlin added: "This is the first time a college has won the Stirling Prize. It is good to celebrate the contribution these remarkable communities have made to the development of modern architectural culture in Britain.”

Four other projects were shortlisted for the Stirling Prize; namely 100 Liverpool Street by Hopkins Architects; Hackney New Primary School and 333 Kingsland Road by Henley Halebrown; Orchard Gardens, Elephant Park in London by Panter Hudspith Architects and Sands End Arts & Community Centre in London by Mæ.

The 2021 Stirling Prize was won by Grafton Architects

Brick chimneys animate the facade and provide sustainable ventilation
Brick chimneys animate the facade and provide sustainable ventilation
Photography by Nick Kane
Photography by Nick Kane


#1 Posted by Yup on 14 Oct 2022 at 10:27 AM
Simply stunning. Lucky students.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#2 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 15 Oct 2022 at 10:02 AM
Falkirk campus makes the Top 6 -- must have been a thin year.

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