An Gaelaras, Derry by O’Donnell and Tuomey makes Stirling shortlist


An Gaelaras, Derry, an innovative and vibrant cultural centre by O’Donnell and Tuomey has made the final shortlist for the Stirling Prize. An Gaelaras is a cultural centre designed to promote the use and enjoyment of the Irish language and its culture.

Faced with an almost impossible landlocked site (only one of the four sides was able to have windows) in a street of Georgian and Victorian terraces and further compromised by a substation that occupies a third of the frontage, the architects have come up with an intriguing and intricate vortex plan that draws the visitor in and up the resulting dynamic multilevel building.

RIBA describes the building: “The sense of the building as a sculptural intervention in a conventional street is enhanced by the use of beautiful board-marked concrete. In scale it respects its neighbours but materially it is very different and speaks of culture as something that is aspirational as well as communal. The concrete adds gravitas and allows for the use of cheaper materials elsewhere: plywood and painted plaster. An Gaelaras is an innovative and vibrant building that embodies the celebration of Irish language and culture using a dynamic plan form to break down convention and enhance the sense of community. The organisation and the aesthetics complement one another to produce a rigorous piece of architecture that characterises the institution instead of merely reflecting the predelictions of the architects.”

Now in its 16th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize in association with The Architects’ Journal and Benchmark is awarded to the architects of the best new European building ‘built or designed in Britain’. The winner will be announced on Saturday 1 October at Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham and will be broadcast on a special edition of BBC Two’s The Culture Show on Sunday 2 October, presented by Kevin McCloud.

This year is the first time the shortlist includes practices who have all previously been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize; and also includes two RIBA Stirling Prize winners: David Chipperfield Architects and Zaha Hadid Architects. William Hill is again offering odds on the shortlisted buildings. The six buildings competing for this year’s title and their odds according to William Hill are:

  • An Gaelaras, Derry by O’Donnell and Tuomey (William Hill odds: 8/1)
  • The Angel Building, London by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) (7/1)
  • Evelyn Grace Academy, London by Zaha Hadid Architects (5/2)
  • Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects (5/1)
  • Olympic Velodrome London 2012 by Hopkins (2/1)
  • Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford by Bennetts Associates (4/1)