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31st January, 2022

Kingston University’s Town House one of three UK buildings shortlisted for prestigious European Union contemporary architecture prize


Kingston University’s RIBA Stirling Prize winning Town House building is one of 40 leading European projects shortlisted for this year’s European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award.

The landmark building on the Penrhyn Road campus, which was designed by Grafton Architects and named Britain’s best new building by the Royal Institute of British Architects in October last year, is one of just three UK buildings to be shortlisted for the prestigious European architecture award.

Some 40 buildings across 18 countries that demonstrate excellence in European architecture were selected after a jury panel met in Barcelona to consider projects built during the past two and a half years. The two other UK buildings shortlisted alongside Town House are Carmody Groake’s Hill House Box, a protective enclosure around the century-old Scottish building Hill House, and Selgas Cano’s Second Home Offices in Holland Park, London.

Opened in January 2020, Town House was conceived as part of a bold vision to create an inspirational new learning space that also acts as a gateway to campus for borough residents and businesses. Housing a three-floor academic library, archive, dance studios and a studio theatre, the six-storey structure was built by three-time Education Constructor of the Year winner Willmott Dixon Construction.

The EU Mies van der Rohe Award, celebrated as the highest accolade in European architecture, is awarded biennially, usually recognising projects built over the past two years, with this year’s award expanded to cover a further sixth month period. The five finalists will be revealed on 16 February with the winner announced at an awards ceremony in May.

Having already been named Britain’s best new building, the shortlisting for the European Union accolade demonstrated how the architectural achievements of Town House are being recognised further afield, University’s Director of Estates and Sustainability Sean Woulfe said.

“The Mies van der Rohe award is among the most highly regarded prizes for European architecture, so it’s a huge honour to be on the shortlist. Since Town House opened its doors two years ago this month it’s been a real beacon for us as we’ve navigated the challenges of the pandemic.

“We’ve been delighted with how our students have made it their home as well as the reception Town House has had from all of those who use it across the borough and the many visitors we have hosted. The national and international recognition it has garnered chimes with the ambition of the University and the importance we place on the value of great design.”

The award is named after Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German-American architect who is one of the principal pioneers of modern architecture. One of the most famous buildings he designed, the Barcelona Pavilion, will serve as the venue for the final award ceremony in May.

Outlining the accolade’s standing across the continent, European Union Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said:

“The EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture – the Mies van der Rohe Award highlights the contribution of architecture to sustainable development,” she said. “We need young people, architects, artists, education and cultural professionals, innovators, entrepreneurs and regional authorities from all over Europe to actively engage and benefit from this initiative.”

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