Sainsbury Laboratory shortlisted for the Stirling Prize
Photo credit: Hufton+Crow
The Sainsbury Laboratory, designed by award-winning architects Stanton Williams, has been shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious architectural award.
The Stirling Prize is awarded to the architects of the project built or designed in Britain “which has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year.”
The 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize judges will visit the six shortlisted buildings and meet for a final time on the day of the presentation on 13 October 2012 to pick the winner.
RIBA commented: “This building is an exciting new typology, with spaces for research juxtaposed with those for education; the private and the public; the highly-technological nurture of nature with the simple enjoyment of an extended botanic garden.”
Alan Stanton, Director at Stanton Williams, explained: “The Laboratory is a major new international centre for pure research in plant science. Plants are the foundation of every ecosystem and agricultural system on earth and the work that takes place within the Laboratory will develop the fundamental understanding of how plants grow and develop which will be essential for securing a sustainable future.
“The very high scientific ambition for the project has driven the architectural design. We were encouraged to develop the project “from the inside out”, designing around the scientists’ specific requirements in order to “re-think” the laboratory from first principles.
“The resulting project is a radical challenge to the norms of laboratory design, creating innovative working spaces, fully day-lit and characterised by a strong sense of connection with their natural setting. The focus on the requirements of the users has resulted in a building organized around spaces that promote creative interaction between scientists and which support the life of the new intellectual community.
“The building itself is set in the University Botanic Garden that was laid out by John Henslow, Charles Darwin’s tutor and mentor. Housed within the building is the University Herbarium, containing plant specimens collected by Henslow and by Darwin himself. In this unique physical and intellectual context we were challenged to create a building which had a sense of permanence, reflecting the continuity of scientific thought, but which also accommodated the exceptional facilities for contemporary research and was highly adaptable for future change.”
Professor Ottoline Leyser, Associate Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory explains: “This building eloquently makes powerful statements about plant science. The most obvious one is that plant science is an urgent priority, addressing some of the major challenges of the twenty-first century. The perception of science as a cold, soulless, inhuman activity is a major barrier to the adoption of science-based solutions. It is also profoundly misguided.
“The focus of the lab is to understand, with predictive accuracy, how plants literally conjure themselves out of thin air. Powered by sunlight, plants combine water, carbon dioxide and a sprinkling of salt to build, molecule by molecule, the many and diverse plant forms around us.
“This is an amazing and wonderful thing, and is made all the more so as we begin to understand how it works. The more we know, the more astonishingly beautiful it becomes.
“To make progress in understanding the intricate complexities of life takes creativity, ingenuity, intuition and inspiration.
“The Sainsbury Laboratory provides a fertile ground to realize our ambitious scientific vision, and simultaneously make a spectacular public statement about the seamless connection between nature, art and science.”
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Original article from the University's news website