The verdict is in! RIBA announced the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) by Grafton Architects and Shell Arquitectos as the winner of the very first International Prize. Open to architects worldwide, the Prize is RIBA's very own recognition award for“civil architecture that empowers people and societies to innovate and to progress”, regardless of the building's style, size of scheme and budget, and complexity. The esteemed RIBA grand jury led by architect Richard Rogers traveled to all six world-class finalist buildings before reaching their final decision.
The UTEC vertical campus was designed by woman-led, Irish firm Grafton Architects and Lima-based Shell Arquitectos. The brutalist building was designed for UTEC, a 50-year-old engineering university that enables young Peruvians to acquire engineering qualifications, and therefore encourage social mobility.
Read on for jury comments about the winning project.
The brutalist UTEC building is “the culmination of years of experimentation by Grafton Architects”, the grand jury commented. They praised the building as a radical depiction of Grafton Architects' “mastery of their craft, gifting Lima with a bold yet considerate contribution to the city”.
“UTEC is an exceptional example of civil architecture — a building designed with people at its heart,” the jury says. “Grafton Architects have created a new way to think about a university campus, with a distinctive ‘vertical campus’ structure responding to the temperate climatic conditions and referencing Peru’s terrain and heritage. Sitting on the border of two residential districts in Lima, in section UTEC perches tantalizingly on the edge of a ravine [...] mirroring the organic curve of the landscape and accommodating itself in the city...”
“UTEC has been designed to encourage its students to interact in a unique way with the building. The vertical structure provides open circulation and meeting spaces in a succession of platforms that compose the ‘frame’ of the building; teaching rooms, laboratories and offices are enclosed, inserted into and suspended from the exposed concrete structure. The frame is a device providing shade, a place of rich spatial exuberance and a platform from which to view the life of the city.”
In receiving the prize, Grafton Architects directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara said: “When we looked at the wonderful range of projects throughout the world which were being considered for the RIBA International Prize, we were honoured to be in this group with such esteemed colleagues. For Grafton Architects, we found that the educational aspirations of the client together with the unique climatic conditions of Lima gave us the opportunity to 'invent' a new vertical campus for their new University of Engineering. We would like to acknowledge the important role played by our local architects in Lima: Shell Arquitectos. We would like to thank UTEC for their belief in architecture and in us and for giving us the wonderful opportunity to work on this special project.”
Farrell and McNamara will speak about UTEC during the International Prize Winner's Lecture at the RIBA headquarters in London on December 13.
All photos and quoted text courtesy of RIBA.
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