The country’s new ‘Best New Building’ honor was bestowed to the 22-year-old firm’s redesign of the elder care facility located on the site of Grade I-listed Morden College, the original design for which dates to the 1690s and has been attributed to the period’s most significant architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
The scope of the project involved creating a more sociable, physically active, and less isolating atmosphere in which residents can age in place gracefully. With dramatic effect, the overhaul consolidates formerly diffuse functions at the non-profit care facility into a series of brick pavilions that are connected by the construction of a central timber colonnade.
A steeply pitched roofline gives the structure an austere but still inviting character. Inside, a medical treatment center, café, lounges, and administrative offices are all combined into creative and well-lit spatial interplays that offer an enhancement of both privacy and personal enrichment without appearing overly institutional.
“The John Morden Centre is a place of joy and inspiration,” the Prize’s chair, OMA partner Ellen van Loon, said in a press statement. “It sensitively and seamlessly integrates medical facilities and social spaces, delivering a bold and hopeful model for the design of health and care centers for the elderly. Dedication to creating an environment that lifts the spirits and fosters community is evident at every turn and in every detail.”
“This robust building provides comfort and warmth, with thoughtful features designed to prevent isolation. It illustrates how buildings can themselves be therapeutic — supporting care and instilling a sense of belonging. Great architecture orients people so they can thrive, and this building is exemplary at achieving exactly that,” her statement continued.
The project joins Foster + Partners' iconic Gherkin tower, Grafton Architects' Town House design for Kingston University, and last year's recipient, The New Library, Magdalene College by Niall McLaughlin Architects, as the 27th overall Stirling Prize winner.
Mæ, who also won big at the RIBA National Awards and RIBA London Awards, beat out five other projects on a shortlist that was geared towards sustainable outcomes in a likely response to last year's criticism of the Prize.
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