Evelyn Grace Academy by Zaha Hadid Architects has won the 2011 RIBA Stirling Prize for the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year.
A highly stylized zig-zag of steel and glass, the Evelyn Grace Academy is squeezed on to the tightest of urban sites (1.4 hectares – the average secondary school is 8/9 hectares). The architects received a complex brief: four schools under a single academy umbrella with the need to express both independence and unity. The architects were strongly encouraged by the client to ‘think outside the box’. With such a small space and with sport being one of the Academy’s ‘special subjects’ (each Academy school has one), the architects needed to be highly inventive. They succeeded, for instance by cleverly inserting a 100m running track into the heart of the site taking pupils right up to the front door. By dramatically celebrating the school’s specialism, the RIBA Stirling Prize judges noted
this is a design that literally makes kids run to get into school in the morning.