Riba architecture prize won by ‘modern Machu Picchu’

A university building in Peru designed by a female-led Irish company has won the first Royal Institute of British Architects worldwide architecture reward. The Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnologia (UTEC) in Lima was described by Riba as “inspirational”and a”bold new addition to the city skyline “. The engineering university was selected from a shortlist of six, consisting of work by the late Dame Zaha Hadid.

The prize is open to any qualified designer worldwide.

It was set up to “celebrate civil architecture that empowers people and societies to innovate and advance”, Riba stated.

The high-rise UTEC building, created by Dublin-based Grafton Architects, was explained by the Riba jury as “a series of landscaped balconies with clefts, overhangs and grottos” which resembles a “contemporary Machu Picchu”.

The panel, chaired by Lord Rogers, said it was “a remarkable example of civil architecture– a structure developed with people at its heart”.

The jury added: “Grafton Architects have actually created a new way to think of a university school, with a distinct ‘vertical school’ structure reacting to the temperate climatic conditions and referencing Peru’s surface and heritage.”

The university is situated on the edge of a gorge in the Barranco district of Lima and is said to mix into its surroundings by “matching the natural curve of the landscape” while also “accommodating itself in the city”.

Stormen concert hall in Bodo, Norway, by London-based DRDH Architects, and the Arquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre in Ribeira Grande, Portugal, from Menos e Mais Arquitectos Associados, were likewise shortlisted.

Competitors also included the Museo Jumex in Mexico City from British designer David Chipperfield– a gallery to showcase the largest private art collection in Latin America.

The Ring of Remembrance International WWI Memorial of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, by the Agence d’Architecture Philippe Prost, was likewise a rival.

The enforcing style in Arras, France honors the thousands who died in the area throughout World War One.

Riba president Jane Duncan said UTEC was “a remarkable addition to the city of Lima” which would “influence other designers and universities all over the world”.

She said: “UTEC stood apart from all other entries from around the world, plainly showing its understanding, engagement with and concern for those who are lucky sufficient to live near, go to, teach and discover in it.”

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, directors of Grafton Architects, said they were “honoured to be in this group with such renowned associates”, including of the job: “We found that the instructional aspirations of the customer together with the distinct weather conditions of Lima provided us the chance to ‘create’ a new vertical campus for their new University of Engineering.”

They also thanked regional partners Shell Arquitectos for playing an “crucial function” in the development of the campus structure.

UTEC’s primary executive Carlos Heeren said: “Its open spaces push their concepts to brand-new limitations, its solid structure makes them feel safe to explore and take dangers, and its classy lines advise us all that appeal can be discovered even in concrete.”