Thursday, 22 July 2010

Stirling Prize - wacky vs worthy

This year's candidates for the Stirling Prize have been announced - the usual eclectic mix, from an exotic gallery (in Rome by Zaha Hadid) to a south London school (Clapham Manor by dRMM).

They are all very good, I imagine - they are all RIBA Award winners. And it's not easy to compare apples with pears (although both have an attribute in common with buildings - the inside is often not as appealing as the glossy outside led you to hope).

What do you go for? Celebrate Zaha as the cavalier swansong of the age of bling - or is this the kind of award that confirms the prejudices held by 80% of the public about architecture? Or do you give the prize to Chipperfield's Berlin museum - a sober, roundhead alternative, more in tune with the times.

If I were a judge, I'd be choosing at least partly on political grounds. And with two schools on the list, I think I could see what the shortlisters are getting at - though I'd be worried that they've managed to split the vote in the process.

Give the prize to a school, and show the public the new schools that the Government won't be letting them have any more (unless they have time to build their own). The trouble is, though, that there are lots of quite good new schools. Is any one of them really the best building in the country this year? Probably not - but I'd be happy to accept it as a bit of point scoring.

I'm sure the real judges just go on merit. But... I see William Hill have Zaha as favourite - bet on her if you want, but I won't be.

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