The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) may be the pioneers behind some of the most iconic and visually appealing buildings in the United Kingdom. The organisation provides the standards, training, support and recognition which may put their members in the United Kingdom and overseas at the peak of their profession. They also work with the government to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes and new communities. For 50 years the RIBA Awards and prizes have celebrated the most innovative architecture in the United Kingdom, and this year’s winners include the York Art Gallery, apartment buildings on Trafalgar Place, Regent High School, New QEII Hospital amongst other varying types of buildings. Architects Herzog & de Meuron, who designed the new Tate Modern extension in London, have also been awarded a RIBA Award for their futuristic architectural design of the Blavatnik School of Government. Previous RIBA Awards winners include the design of the London Olympic Velodrome, completed by London firm Hopkins Architects in 2012 as well as the London Olympic Stadium.
The RIBA was founded in 1834 for ‘the general advancement of Civil Architecture, and for promoting and facilitating the acquirement of knowledge of the various arts and sciences connected therewith.’ Their funding consists of contributions from their 40,000 members, sponsors and charitable trading operations. The RIBA is governed by a council of 60 members, elected from among the RIBA membership, the majority of whom are chartered architects. According to a RIBA official report, the organisation aims to be recognised as the leading authority on architecture and the built environment by next year. Recently, RIBA has opened a new Architecture Gallery in London which tells the story of architecture and the positive impact it may have on people’s lives. The organisation plans on expanding to open a gallery at Mann Island in Liverpool and tour exhibitions between the two venues beyond 2016.
RIBA has many awards, such as the RIBA House of the Year, which is awarded to the best new house designed by an architect in the United Kingdom. The RIBA Regional Award is given to a United Kingdom building for its regional importance as a piece of architecture, whereas the RIBA National Awards are awarded to any building across the UK recognised as a significant contribution to architecture. The RIBA International Prize may be significant as it is new and is awarded to the most significant and inspirational building in the world. This year almost all continents in the world are represented and the winner is set to be chosen in December 2016.
This year’s Royal Gold Medal has been awarded to Dame Zaha Hadid, the first woman to be awarded the prestigious honour in her own right. The award is given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, and Zaha was known for her built, theoretical and academic work. Her previous work includes the unusually designed Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre and the 1000 Museum in Miami, USA. Zaha has since passed, however her work may continue to inspire and transform areas around the world. The RIBA Awards are far from solely focused on the design efforts of the architects involved, therefore RIBA has created a Client of the Year Award which awards the client as a key role in the creation of fine architecture. In 2014 the winner was Manchester Metropolitan University, and this year’s shortlist includes The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, Countryside Properties and The National Theatre in London. Young and aspiring architects may find inspiration from the work created and showcased through these awards.
How might the winners of the RIBA Awards work reflect trending UK designs?