The Bartlett School of Architecture


Stirling Prize win for Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

16 October 2015

Burntwood School by AHMM

The transformation of Burntwood School in south London by Bartlett School of Architecture alumni Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has been awarded the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best building.

AHMM's project reimagines a 1950’s modernist secondary school campus for 2000 girls and 200 staff. The architects created six new faculty buildings and two large cultural buildings linking original buildings by renowned 1950s/1960s architect Sir Leslie Martin. Every building is full of light and air with double height spaces at the end of each corridor to increase natural daylight and create well-framed views. It offers a range of teaching spaces from conventional classrooms to interactive open spaces. AHMM worked closely with graphic artist Morag Myerscough to use large, colourful murals throughout the buildings. The project was one of the last to be produced under the Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which was axed by the coalition government in 2011.

AHMM have been shortlisted for the prize three times before, for Westminster Academy (2008), Kentish Town Health Centre (2009) and for the Angel Building, London (2011). This is their first win.

The judges commented:
‘Burntwood School is the clear winner of the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize … It encompasses great contemporary design and clever reuse of existing buildings as well as superb integration of artwork, landscaping and engineering. It is a genuine collaborative project. There was a wonderful working relationship between the head teacher and the architect: a true partnership of equals.

‘Burntwood is technically sophisticated in its use of prefabrication, its low-energy strategy and the minimal disruption to teachers and pupils during construction. It even has its own high street with a covered walkway formed from off-the-peg bus-shelters. Furthermore, the sculptural quality of the finely modelled concrete facades and the lush campus setting enhance the sense of the place.

‘Burntwood sets a standard in school design that every child in Britain deserves. It is a culmination of many years of creative toil by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in designing schools up and down the country. This is their masterpiece.’

Bob Sheil, Director of The Bartlett School of Architecture, says:

‘AHMM's receipt of the RIBA Stirling Prize for Burntwood School is richly deserved, particularly as this is as their fourth appearance on the shortlist. All four partners of AHMM are alumni of The Bartlett School of Architecture and throughout their careers have remained long-standing supporters of ours. They have taught at many levels, including Part 3, and most notably ran a design unit here in the 90s and early 2000s. They are not only one of the most esteemed employers of our graduates, but also generous mentors to many young practices that have emerged from under their wings.’

Burntwood School was chosen by the judges from the following outstanding shortlisted entries, including Darbishire Place, London by Níall McLaughlin Architects and NEO Bankside housing, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. McLaughlin, Professor of Architectural Practice at The Bartlett, picked up the Stephen Lawrence prize for his Fishing Hut project in Hampshire.

The 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize judges were: Jane Duncan, Chair and RIBA President; Peter Clegg, architect; Steve Tompkins architect and winner of the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize; Dame Theresa Sackler, arts philanthropist and Rory Olcayto, Editor, The Architects’ Journal.

AHMM’s Burntwood School on the BBC

Image: Burntwood School. Photographer: Timothy Soar, Rob Parrish