Fewer gongs are a result of the changing nature of British architecture
One could be forgiven for assuming the decline in the number of RIBA awards this year is due to the downturn in work-load. But the RIBA says the decision to hand out almost half the number of gongs compared with last year was taken to raise the quality threshold.
It’s a move that could be viewed as less than helpful right now. There are plenty of struggling practices out there that would very much value the kudos and marketing opportunities a RIBA award can bring. But it also raises questions over the future make-up of the awards.
The public buildings that continue to dominate the awards list will be thinner on the ground. Mairi Johnson’s assertion that schools built under the schools priority programme “won’t win any awards” confirms the suspicion that the education sector won’t be bolstering numbers. In a couple of years, will it really be possible to celebrate 50 British buildings of a quality equivalent to this year’s batch?
If there is any good news it is the rise of work in developing markets won by British practices in the past three years. Only a dozen projects have been recognised in this year’s RIBA International awards, but it perhaps won’t be long before the Lubetkin Prize offers a better indication of the state of the British profession than the Stirling.
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