Page N1.1 . 25 October 2006                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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Richard Rogers Stirling Prize

by ArchitectureWeek

The prestigious Stirling Prize has been awarded to the Barajas Airport in Madrid, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership in association with Estudio Lamela Arquitectos. The prize is given annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and cosponsor, The Architects' Journal. Now in its 11th year, the prize is named after the architect Sir James Stirling (1926-1992).

The Barajas Airport, described earlier in ArchitectureWeek, is 3900 feet (1200 meters) long, with a 3300-foot- (1000-meter-) long satellite, linked by an underground train and accommodating up to 35 million passengers annually.

Under a distinctively undulating roof, the building presents a horizontal progression from arrival through check-in and passport/ security, to departure lounges and aircraft, each stage articulated by "floating" parallel floor planes, separated from each other by natural light-filled "canyons" across which bridges span. These functions are also divided between six floors, so departure and arrival traffic is separated vertically.

The structure accommodates vast roof lights that provide shaded daylight throughout the upper level. Expressive air conditioning outlets resembling giant bar code readers animate the baggage collection stands.

The RIBA judges commented: "Whatever the means of approach, by air or by land, the sheer scale and complexity of what has been tackled and achieved here cannot be overestimated. In response to the key challenge — that of efficiently processing constantly changing passenger flows and associated luggage handling — the resulting building presents a straightforward linear diagram in the form of a clear sequence of spectacular spaces for both departing and arriving passengers.

The judges continue: "Graduated color is used, not as in most Rogers's schemes, to delineate services, but for wayfinding. The elegant over-sailing roof is a unifying device and succeeds in being both dominant and yet calmly and self-assuredly understated. The sinuous, lightweight consistency of the bamboo slatted lining contrasts with the modular repetition of the gymnastic steel roof structure that in turn is supported off a monumental concrete frame."

Richard Rogers was educated at the Architectural Association and Yale University. One of his first internationally recognized works, in partnership with Renzo Piano, was the Pompidou Center in Paris.

According to Dennis Sharp, writing in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture, "His works reject the classical past, while enthusiastically embracing a technological future with its accompanying aesthetic. Although he places emphasis on technology, he believes that it cannot be an end in itself, but must attempt to solve existing social and ecological problems."

Past Stirling Prize winners include The Scottish Parliament by EMBT / RMJM, 30 St. Mary Axe by Foster and Partners, the Laban Centre by Herzog & de Meuron, and Gateshead Millennium Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.

This year, Barajas Airport prevailed over five condenders: Brick House, London, by Caruso St John Architects; Evelina Children's Hospital, London, by Hopkins Architects; Idea Store, Whitechapel, London, by Adjaye/ Associates; National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff, by Richard Rogers Partnership; and Phaeno Science Centre, Wolfsburg, Germany, by Zaha Hadid Architects and Mayer Bährle Freie Architekten BDA, Germany.

The RIBA Stirling Prize jury included: Ian Ritchie, architect; Isabel Allen, editor of The Architects' Journal; Stefan Behnisch, architect; Mariella Frostrup, journalist; and Martha Schwartz, landscape architect.

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ArchWeek Image

Barajas Airport in Madrid, by Richard Rogers Partnership and Estudio Lamela Arquitectos, has just been awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize.
Photo: Katsuhisa Kida

ArchWeek Image

Color coding within the Barajas Airport.
Photo: Manuel Renau

ArchWeek Image

Function arranged horizontally and vertically, under an undulating roof.
Image: Estudio Lamela Arquitectos

ArchWeek Image

Escalators in a circulation "canyon."
Photo: Manuel Renau

ArchWeek Image

Overhead lights in the Barajas Airport.
Photo: Amparo Garrido

ArchWeek Image

Check-in counters.
Photo: Manuel Renau


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