Architecture critic Tom Dyckoff’s money was on the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, by O’Donnell and Tuomey. William Hill’s money was (literally) on Wakefield’s Hepworth Gallery, by David Chipperfield. And according to the Guardian’s poll, the public were behind the Olympic Stadium by Populous. But in the end, none of these was the winner. OMA’s two shortlisted buildings, Maggie’s Gartnavel and the City’s New Court, didn’t claim the prize either. The ultimate victor was… a science lab. Who’d have thought it?
The Sainsbury Laboratory, a major new plant-science research centre in Cambridge, was designed by architects Stanton Williams, who have never even been shortlisted before.
‘The Sainsbury Laboratory is a timeless piece of architecture, sitting within a highly sensitive site, one overlooking the woods where Darwin walked with his tutor and mentor Henslow, discussing the origin of species,’ said the judges.
‘In this project Stanton Williams and their landscape architects have created a new landscape, a courtyard which flows out into the botanical gardens. The project is both highly particular and specialised, and at the same time a universal building type, taken to an extraordinary degree of sophistication and beauty.
‘The Sainsbury Laboratory is an exceptional building that achieves at many levels – in blending a world-class science facility with a public social space in a highly energy efficient building.’