United Kingdom

Kingston University’s Town House wins top architecture prize

Kingston University’s Town House building has won the coveted Stirling Prize 2021, one of the most prestigious accolades in architecture.

At an awards ceremony staged tonight (October 14) presented by the BBC’s Naga Munchetty, the team at Grafton Architects behind the building celebrated when they were announced the winners, while a watch party staged at the Town House building itself in Kingston erupted as the news came through.

“Thrilled and immensely proud to be able to say our wonderful #TownHouseKingston building has won this year’s @RIBA #StirlingPrize. Our students, staff and the wider community can now say they study, work and enjoy being part of Britain’s best new building,” a tweet posted by the Kingston University Twitter account read moments after the announcement.

Chairman of the jury of the 2021 Riba Stirling Prize, Lord Foster, said: “Kingston University Town House is a theatre for life – a warehouse of ideas. It seamlessly brings together student and town communities, creating a progressive new model for higher education, well deserving of international acclaim and attention. In this highly original work of architecture, quiet reading, loud performance, research and learning, can delightfully co-exist. That is no mean feat. Education must be our future and this must be the future of education.”

The building is wrapped in a tall sequence of columns and it intends to blur its boundary with the outside pavement to invite everyone in – students, locals and visitors alike.

Internally, it is open and spacious, with a public forum at the entrance which leads to an amphitheatre.

It also has social and study spaces co-existing throughout the building including a library, archive, dance studio and theatre.

Ahead of the announcement, which tops a list of high praise the Town House building has received since it opened in 2020, KU’s Associate Director of Capital Projects, Connor Wilson described the Stirling Prize as the ‘Gold Standard’ for arctitecture in the UK.

“It’s a great accolade for Kingston University and it recognizes the great quality of the facility that’s been created here. The ambition of the university in aiming to create a unique building which provides the best possible learning environment for our students and which engages in a really beautiful way with the local area,” he said.

Yvonne Farrel from Grafton Architects described the project as a “huge jump forward in terms of education” that overlaps the “extremes” of university experience in the quietness of the library environment with the “noisy” elements of university social life.



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