LSE Student Centre on Stirling Prize Shortlist

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In the midst of a complex mediaeval London street pattern O’Donnell and Tuomey have woven a little of their magic. This remarkable project is an object lesson in mobilising the limitations of a site into a startlingly original building which makes a massive contribution to its townscape.

The architects started by taking the geometry of tight angles as the definition of a solid into which they gouged cuts and cracks that give light and form. Every angled facet responds to rights of lights of its neighbours. The momentum is generated in the surrounding streets and drawn into the spiral that rises through the whole height of the structure as a continuous internal street, taking the form of a generous stair that clambers its way around the core. Outer walls slope and twist, floors take up complex non-orthogonal shapes, yet all the accommodation generated seems to be natural, functional and hugely enjoyable to use. The result is truly unexpected. It is fascinating to see a practice enlarging its areas of expertise in this way.

The building is beautifully constructed in spite of the difficulties of being novated to the contractors. To build a building like this required a high degree of craftsmanship and care, and one feels that this was achieved through the sheer willpower of the architects. This is a building that has a striking and original appearance while at the same time fitting happily into its context. Similarly, it has a complex and unusual plan form that accommodates functions with effortless ease.

from Stirling Prize shortlist citation