Riba Stirling Prize 2021 shortlist revealed: mosque, bridge and museum make the cut

One of these six projects will be crowned Britain's best building next month

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The Royal Institute of British Architects has announced its shortlist for this year's Stirling Prize, the UK industry's highest accolade, and it includes a mosque in Cambridge, a bridge in Cornwall and a museum in the Lake District.

The six-project shortlist, which is usually entirely made up of winners of the Riba National Awards, includes a surprise addition: 15 Clerkenwell Close, a housing development designed by Amin Taha's studio Groupwork, which won a Riba National Award in 2018, but was then involved in a long-running planning dispute that threatened its demolition.

The project, which unconventionally uses limestone structural columns and beams, is in London, near Clerkenwell Green, and is described by Riba as an "astonishing architectural triumph".

The six projects vary tremendously in their location and use – but they are united in their ingenuity and creativity
Simon Alford, Riba president

The other projects are: Marks Barfield Architects' Cambridge Central Mosque; Stanton Williams's Key Worker Housing project in Cambridge; the Town House building at Kingston University by Grafton Architects; Windermere Jetty Museum, in the Lake District, by Carmody Groarke; and Tintagel Castle Footbridge, in Cornwall, by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates.

Take a look through the photo gallery above to see each project.

Riba president Simon Alford said the shortlist "demonstrates the innovation and ambition that lies at the heart of exceptional architecture".

"From a busy city mosque in Cambridge to a remote coastal bridge in Cornwall, the six projects vary tremendously in their location and use – but they are united in their ingenuity and creativity, their consideration of their local environment and historical context, and their use of high-quality materials."

2AP6T1R Cambridge Central Mosque, Europe's first eco-friendly mosque. The first purpose-built mosque in the city of Cambridge architects Marks Barfield 2019.

The Cambridge Central Mosque, in particular, is a stunning building and a clear front runner. It has won several awards, including the Riba National Award, with the architects also winning Project Architect of the Year and the Cambridge Mosque Trust being named Client of the Year.

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

The footbridge in Cornwall, meanwhile, is "much more than a bridge", said Riba. "With its highly ceremonial presence, articulated in every piece of finely crafted stainless steel, it also allows contemporary visitors to retrace the steps of predecessors who would have passed through this section of the castle to gain entry to the grand hall on the island side.

"It is a connector, an enabler, an interpreter and a spectacle all within its own right."

The Riba Stirling Prize, named after British architect James Stirling, was established in 1996 to recognise buildings deemed to have made the biggest contribution to the evolution of British architecture. It is awarded annually, with the exception of last year, when it was postponed because of the pandemic.

The winner of this year's prize will be announced on Thursday, October 14.

See winners of the Riba National Award here:

Updated: September 16, 2021, 7:14 AM