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Irish firm Grafton Architects has won the first-ever RIBA International Prize for its innovative ‘vertical’ campus design for a university in Peru.
Working in collaboration with local firm Shell Arquitectos, the Dublin firm designed the striking concrete Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC), Lima’s specialist engineering university, which was established to give young Peruvians access to qualifications, professional opportunities and to encourage social mobility.
It was given the accolade of the world’s best building due to it being “an exceptional example of civil architecture – a building designed with people at its heart,” according to the jury, which was chaired by world-renowned architect, Richard Rogers.
RIBA President Jane Duncan said: “Grafton Architects has created an innovative new model for a university campus that is highly responsive to its local environment and community. The concept of a ‘vertical campus’ defies convention, as does the mix of open and enclosed spaces, but both are key to the success of this building visually and spatially.”
“UTEC is the culmination of years of experimentation by Grafton Architects. In this building they show the mastery of their craft, gifting Lima with a bold yet considerate contribution to the city and a visionary, world-class building.”
Like a “modern-day Machu Picchu“, according to the jury, the building is a series of landscaped terraces with clefts, overhangs and grottos, which has been designed to encourage its students to interact in a unique way with the building.
Carlos Heeren, UTEC’S CEO, adds: “The UTEC building has had a real impact on the students and faculty. Its open spaces push their ideas to new limits, its solid structure makes them feel safe to explore and take risks, and its elegant lines remind us all that beauty can be found even in concrete. This building is not just a facility or a space you need to have with classes and labs. It reflects who we are. And we feel proud of it.”
UTEC was selected as the winner of the 2016 RIBA International Prize from five other shortlisted entries, including the Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects with DiA Holding and The Ring of Remembrance, International WWI Memorial of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette by Agence d’architecture Philippe Prost (AAPP).