Stanton Williams had never before been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, but that didn't stop the London-based firm from pocketing the UK's most prestigious architecture award for their science research centre in the University of Cambridge Botanic Gardens.
Loosely inspired by the cloister tradition, the low-rise stone and glass building had an elegant, modernist feel. "The Sainsbury Laboratory is a timeless piece of architecture, sitting within a highly sensitive site, one overlooking the woods where Darwin walked with his tutor and mentor Henslow, discussing the origin of species," said the jury, when awarding the prize last Saturday.
"Stanton Williams and their landscape architects have created a new landscape, a courtyard which flows out into the botanical gardens. The project is both highly particular and specialized, and at the same time a universal building type, taken to an extraordinary degree of sophistication and beauty."
In this video, Stanton Williams's director Alan Stanton discusses the challenges of conceiving a new building for such a historically loaded site.