RIBA International Prize: 30 stunning feats of design battle to be the world's best building

Updated 11th November 2016
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Heydar Aliyev Centre. Zaha Hadid Architects. 2012, Baku, Azerbaijan.
RIBA International Prize: 30 stunning feats of design battle to be the world's best building
Written by Alyn Griffiths, CNN
CNN Style is one of the official media partners of the inaugural RIBA International Prize. The winner will be announced on November 24, 2016.
Featuring invisible houses and flora-clad towers, a thirty-strong shortlist of architectural projects from around the world has been unveiled today by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for its inaugural RIBA International Prize.
The buildings, which range from a cultural center in Azerbaijan to a kindergarten in Vietnam, have been selected to compete for a prize that the organizers say will go to "the most significant and inspirational building of the year."

An international award

Entries were submitted from 50 countries and projects from more than 20 countries are represented in the diverse shortlist.
The prize joins a portfolio of other awards organized by the RIBA, including the Royal Gold Medal and the RIBA Stirling Prize, which last year went to an all-girls secondary school in south London by Alford Hall Monaghan Morris.
"The RIBA is already a global institution with a global reach and members around the world," the organization's president Jane Duncan said.
"We have an international reputation so it's an obvious next step to introduce a prize that rewards the best architecture in the world."
Any qualified architect or practice can enter the prize and there are no restrictions on the scale, budget or program of the projects, meaning that civic spaces and large-scale infrastructure projects are up against private residential buildings and academic institutions.

The nominees

Several of the world's top architects feature on the list, including Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Bjarke Ingels Group, and the studio founded by the late Zaha Hadid.
Many less established studios are also in the running and, according to Duncan, this can provide a great boost to an architect's confidence and reputation.
"Being shortlisted or winning an award such as this has a huge impact on a practice," she said.
"It's not only a big pat on the back, it's an enormous opportunity for publicity and celebration."

The jury

It was announced today that architect Billy Tsien from New York City firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects will join an international jury chaired by Richard Rogers and also featuring Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi from NLÉ, Marilyn Jordan Taylor FAIA, the dean of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Fine Arts, and Philip Gumuchdjian, founder of Gumuchdjian Architects and Chair of RIBA Awards.
The RIBA awards committee will visit the 30 selected projects this summer before naming 20 winners of the RIBA Awards for International Excellence. An additional judging round will provide the six finalists to be assessed by the grand jury, which will visit each project in the autumn and announce the winner in December 2016.
Tsien told CNN Style she is looking forward to exploring the six shortlisted projects, and the opportunity this will provide to see how the buildings benefit their local communities. "As a person who gets very blinkered only looking at our own projects or work from a very small number of people in a very specific place, the chance to look at many different types of work from different places is a great gift," she said.

A global prize with local sensibilities

The architect added that the way the buildings respond to their context and functional requirements is key to picking a winner from such a varied list.
"I'm looking for a sense of integrity in the work, both in the way it's built and also in its program and purpose," she explained. "Although it's a global prize, I will look for the winning building to have a sense of being very connected to the place it's built in."
RIBA hopes that the prize will provide a starting point for an international conversation about the role and significance of architecture in modern society.
"What we're talking about here is a celebration, as much of the process of creating architecture as of the building," Duncan added. "It's a fantastic thing to be able show the world just what great architects and architecture can do."
Scoll through the gallery above to see all thirty nominees.
CNN Style is one of the official media partners of the RIBA International Prize. The winner will be announced on November 24, 2016.