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RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 for Zaha Hadid

Evelyn Grace Academy, London. Design by Zaha Hadid, 2011. Photo: Luke Hayes, 2011

The Royal Institute of British Architects awarded Zaha Hadid the Stirling Prize 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy in London last weekend.The Evelyn Grace Academy is a new secondary school building located on a tight site of 1.4 hectares in Brixton, South London, that was designed by the office of Zaha Hadid as a highly stylized zig-zag steel and glass building

Entrance to the Evelyn Grace Academy. Design by Zaha Hadid, 2011. Photo: Hufton & Crow, 2011

The Evelyn Grace Academy is run by ARK (Absolute Return for Kids), a charity set up by Arpad Busson, an hedge-fund multimillionaire, with the goal to offer opportunities to local children in inner cities in order to reduce the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged and more affluent backgrounds.

The steel and glass building of the school is fit on a tight, inner city site. Design by Zaha Hadid, 2011. Photo: Luke Hayes, 2011.

The students of the four schools of the Academy meet in the open space. Design by Zaha Hadid, 2011. Photo: Luke Haynes, 2011

The Academy is comprised of four schools under a single academy umbrella, with sport as the overall special subject. The architects were asked to create a design that expressed both independence and unity and were strongly encouraged by the client to ‘think outside the box’.

Parallel the path to the Acadamy's entrance lays the school's running track: The students literally can "run to class". Design by Zaha Hadid, 2011. Photo: Luke Hayes

Zaha Hadid decided to take “advantage” of the small site by inserting a 100 m running track into the heart of the site, taking pupils right up to the front door. Thereby the school’s specialism is enhanced by creating, as one of the RIBA Stirling Prize judges noted ‘a design that literally makes kids run to get into school in the morning’.


Plan of Evelyn Grace Academy. Drawing by Zaha Hadid, 2011.

Section of Evelyn Grace Academy. Drawing by Zaha Hadid, 2011

RIBA’s Stirling Price is a prestigious £20,000 price that is awarded yearly for the best new European building built or designed in the United Kingdom. The Evelyn Grace Academy designed by Zaha Hadid Architects is the first school ever to win RIBA’s price, but for the office of Zaha Hadid it is the second year time to win the RIBA Stirling Prize: Last year they won the award for their MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome.

More information at the Royal Institute of British Architect:

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