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LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Centre ©Dennis Gilbert/View The Saw Swee Hock building's multi-faceted brick exterior creates "meaningful vistas" ©Dennis Gilbert/View Mecanoo's Library of Birmingham, "a cathedral of nowadays" ©Mecanoo The library contains a range of working areas so people can find an area that suits them ©Christian Richters Zaha Hadid's London Aquatics Centre ©Hufton + Crow Beneath the undulating roof of the London Aquatics Centre ©Hufton + Crow The Everyman Theatre by Hayworth Thompkins ©Philip Vile The Everyman auditorium has a 400-person capacity ©Philip Vile Manchester Art School by FCB Studios ©Hufton + Crow The art school's walls were left as a 'blank canvas' for students ©Hufton + Crow Renzo Piano's Shard ©Michel Denance
17 Jul 2014

The shortlist for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize is dominated by public and educational buildings, with only the Shard flying the flag for the office sector.

The Shard by Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano's 310m skyscaper, which was largely funded by Qatari money, has become a highly recognisable addition to London's skyline. Built on a small parcel of land next to one of London's biggest transport hubs, it contains offices, restaurants, a hotel, residential apartments, a health clinic and a public viewing gallery, acting as a 'vertical village'.

The London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

Fresh from winning the top accolade for the Design Museum's Design of the Year with the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku in Azerbaijan, Zaha-Hadid Architects has been shortlisted by RIBA for The London Aquatics Centre.

Inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, while remaining in keeping with the flowing forms of so much of Hadid's work, the undulating roof sweeps up from the ground like a wave that folds over the building to create two pool spaces. Despite the project reported to have come in at almost £270 million, the pool remains a symbol for the success of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Having won the Stirling Prize twice before – MAXXI in Rome in 2010 and Evelyn Grace Academy in London in 2011 – the Iraqi-born starchitect could score a hat trick with this one.

The Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo

Dutch firm Mecanoo's monumental Library of Birmingham has also made the cut. Francine Houben who heads up the firm has described libraries as "the cathedrals of nowadays". The largest library in Europe, the three-tier shimmering box structure goes a long way to subvert the idea of fusty old public libraries losing significance in the modern world.

It contains a sunken amphitheatre, rooftop gardens and multiple spaces where people can interact or conduct business, and is now the third most visited building in Europe.

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, London School of Economics, by O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects

One of two higher education buildings shortlisted, LSE's Saw Swee Hock Student Centre's multi-faceted brick exterior is a result of the Irish architect practice's desire to create "meaningful vistas". Inside, despite its awkward setting in narrow streets behind Aldwych, its shape is defined by sightlines down surrounding streets.

It consolidates numerous student facilities under one roof, and includes an event venue, pub, cafe, gym, prayer space, studios, offices and social spaces – a myriad of functions for a relatively compact seven-storey building.

Read onoffice's recent article on the building.

Manchester School of Art by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The transformation of a 1960s tower, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has created a £26.3m new building with open studios and workshops, executed with great skill and innovation. A fully exposed concrete frame forms the basis for the interior, creating a factory-like feel, animated by steel truss bridges and stairs criss-crossing the vast space.

The layout breaks down the traditional course divisions to encourage work across disciplines, while the raw concrete and steel design leaves blank spaces that students can fill up with art.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios won the Stirling Prize in 2008 for its Accordia housing in Cambridge.

Read onoffice's recent article on Manchester School of Art.

Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, by Haworth Tompkins

The smallest of the projects shortlisted for the award, the Everyman Theatre holds an important place in Liverpool culture. The existing structure was converted from the 19th century Hope Hall chapel, and the new theatre spans 4,690sq m including a 400-seat auditorium, smaller performance and development spaces, a large rehearsal room,and bar and catering facilities.

The entire façade is taken up by a large, collaborative work of public art, consisting of 105 moveable metal sunshades, each holding a life-sized, water-cut portrait of a contemporary Liverpool resident. 

The £28m redevelopment received £16.8 from Ats Council England, £2.5m from the Northwest Regional Develipment Agency and £5.9m from the ERDF.

The London-based firm was shortlisted for Young Vic Theatre, London, in 2007.

The winner of the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize will be announced on the evening of Thursday 16 October at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London.

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