Royal Institute of British Architects announces 54 winners for its national awards

Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children by Stanton Williams is among the victorious projects

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More than 50 buildings across the UK have won the 2021 Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) National Awards for architecture, including a floating church, a mosque in Cambridge and the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in London.

The annual Riba National Awards were established in 1966 and are given to buildings across Britain that offer "significant contributions" to architecture.

The 2020 awards were postponed owing to the coronavirus pandemic, and so this year's winners, announced on Thursday, were chosen from the Riba Regional Award winners, which were determined earlier this year.

These winners go on to form the long list for the British industry's highest accolade, the Stirling Prize. The shortlist will be announced next week, with the winner revealed on October 14.

The Riba International Awards 2021 were also announced in July and included the Msheireb Downtown Doha Masterplan in Qatar.

Which buildings won the Riba National Awards 2021?

The 54 projects listed as winners “showcase the extraordinary breadth and brilliance of UK architecture today”, according to judges.

"Ranging from radical, cutting-edge new designs to clever, creative restorations that breathe new life into historic buildings, these projects illustrate the enduring importance and impact of British architecture," says Riba president Simon Alford.

This includes the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children, which opened in October 2019 in Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

The first-of-its-kind centre, designed by Stanton Williams Architects, was established with £60 million ($82.8m) funds provided by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation.

It is home to advanced gene therapy research rooms, multi-tissue culture rooms to test new treatments, a special cardiac research section with 3D-printing facilities and an open laboratory for 140 researchers.

Riba describes the building as a "delicate and intricate response to a challenging brief".

"The architects have successfully translated an incredibly complex brief to produce a disciplined architecture that is at once joyful and delightful, and perfectly modulated to the Zayed Centre’s serious purpose."

Restoration and higher education

Trends noted from the winners' list include the restoration and sensitive adaptation of existing buildings, sustainability and reusability, and higher education facilities and schools.

“There are a good number of well-designed school and university buildings that are powerful investments in the future, and I am sure they will inspire young people, their teachers and communities," Alford says.

"I am also thrilled to see many of these make creative use of existing structures. Well-designed education facilities should be the rule rather than the exception – every child deserves an effective learning environment, and these projects provide rich inspiration."

There are some particularly unique works, too. The Floating Church by Denizen Works, for example, is not quite a building but a barge that has become a mobile community facility that "makes use of the city's underused canal infrastructure", according to Riba.

"The concertina roof structure is kinetic, allowing it to lie flat so that the barge can pass under bridges when moving between destinations."

The Cambridge Central Mosque by Marks Barfield Architects, which has won several awards, has also grabbed a spot, with the architects also winning Project Architect of the Year and Cambridge Mosque Trust named as Client of the Year.

"The urban intervention of inserting a mosque capable of welcoming 1,000 worshipers within a low rise, residential neighbourhood, without dominating it, is masterful," said Riba.

The full list of winners of the Riba National Awards 2021:


95 Peckham Road by Peter Barber Architects

Blackfriars Circus by Maccreanor Lavington

Caudale Housing Scheme by Mae Architects

Centre Building at London School of Economics by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners

Centre for Creative Learning, Francis Holland School by BDP

English National Ballet at the Mulryan Centre for Dance by Glenn Howells Architects

Floating Church by Denizen Works

House-within-a-House by alma-nac

Kingston University London – Town House by Grafton Architects

Moore Park Mews by Stephen Taylor Architects

North Street by Peter Barber Architects

Royal Academy of Arts by David Chipperfield Architects

Royal College of Pathologists by Bennetts Associates

The Ray Farringdon by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

The Rye Apartments by Tikari Works

The Standard by Orms

The Student Centre, UCL by Nicholas Hare Architects

Tiger Way by Hawkins Brown

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium by Populous

Wooden Roof by Tsuruta Architects

Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children by Stanton Williams


Cambridge Central Mosque by Marks Barfield Architects

Imperial War Museums Paper Store, Duxford by Architype

Key Worker Housing, Eddington, Cambridge by Stanton Williams

The Water Tower, Norfolk by Tonkin Liu

North East

Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre Durham University by Faulkner Browns Architects

North West

Pele Tower House, Lake District by Woollacott Gilmartin Architects

The Gables, Liverpool by DK-Architects

The Oglesby Centre at Halle St Peter’s, Manchester by Stephenson Hamilton Risley Studio

Windermere Jetty Museum by Carmody Groarke


Aberdeen Art Gallery by Hoskins Architects

Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh by Bennetts Associates

Sport Scotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde, Largs, North Ayrshire by Reiach and Hall Architects

The Egg Shed, Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead by Oliver Chapman Architects

The Hill House Box, Helensburgh by Carmody Groarke

South and South East

Brighton College – School of Science and Sport by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

Library and Study Centre St Johns College Oxford University by Wright & Wright Architects

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes by 6a architects

Moor’s Nook, Woking by Coffey Architects

The Clore Music Studios New College Oxford University by John McAslan & Partners

The Dorothy Wadham Building Wadham College Oxford University by Allies and Morrison

The King’s School, Canterbury International College by Walters & Cohen Architects

The Malthouse, The King’s School Canterbury by Tim Ronalds Architects

The Narula House, Berkshire by John Pardey Architects

Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre, Dover by Adam Richards Architects

Winchester Cathedral South Transept Exhibition Spaces by Nick Cox Architects with Metaphor

South West

Bath Schools of Art and Design by Grimshaw

Redhill Barn, Devon by Type Studio

The Story of Gardening Museum, Somerset by Stonewood Design with Mark Thomas Architects and Henry Fagan Engineering

Tintagel Castle Footbridge for English Heritage, Cornwall by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates

Windward House, Gloucestershire by Alison Brooks Architects


Maggie’s Cardiff by Dow Jones Architects

West Midlands

Jaguar Land Rover Advanced Product Creation Centre, Warwickshire by Bennetts Associates

Prof Lord Bhattacharyya Building, University of Warwick by Cullinan Studio

Updated: September 09, 2021, 10:27 AM