Controversial Tate Modern extension wins RIBA award for ‘ingenious’ design
The controversial Tate Modern extension has been named one of the buildings of the year by the Royal Institute of British Architects, despite the design provoking a High Court privacy battle.
The building features a 10th floor balcony that directly overlooks the multi-million pound flats of the Neo Bankside development next door. Residents are suing Tate, claiming they are “living in a goldfish bowl” with tourists taking pictures of their homes.
RIBA acknowledged that the viewing deck was “now controversial” but said the building overall is “a project of immense complexity and ingenuity”.
The judges singled out John O’Hara, project manager for the architects Herzog & de Meuron, saying that they wanted to recognise “the skill and dedication of the project architect, who may otherwise remain largely anonymous”.
The extension was initially known as Switch House and is now named the Blavatnik Building after a donation from the foundation headed by billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik.
It is among 49 recipients of the 2017 RIBA National Awards. All will be put forward for the shortlist of the RIBA Stirling Prize, which crowns the best building of the year.
Other award winners include the “top-notch” transformation of Leicester Cathedral, which includes the rediscovered tomb of Richard III; a cafe and sports centre at Sir James Dyson’s Wiltshire campus: and The Enterprise Centre in Norwich, which has walls clad in straw.
There are also several school buildings, including new designs at Dulwich College in south London, Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, Bedales in Hampshire and Wells Cathedral School in Somerset.
However, Jane Duncan, RIBA President, said it was “disappointing” that no state schools appear on the list, after “a few boom years”.
She said: “Well-designed schools support improved student achievement and staff and student wellbeing, and should be part of education aspirations for all our schools, not just those in the fee-paying sector.”
* This article originally described Sir Leonard Blavatnik as an oligarch. His advisors have informed us that Sir Leonard objects to being described as an oligarch as he is not a Russian citizen and plays no role in Russian politics.