This year, the Stirling Prize was awarded to Stanton Williams Architects for the completed Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. The Stirling Prize is awarded annually to a member of the Royal Institue of British Architects whose work has advanced british architecture. The winner this year is a science laboratory, a building typology that doesn’t frequently produce spectacular architecture. Of course there are exceptions (like the Salk Institue, the Frick Chemistry Laboratory, or even Einstein Tower) but if you’ve spent much time on an average college campus, you may remember the building with the science labs as being dark, dingy or depressing.
The Sainsbury Laboratory is light, airy and sharply detailed. As a laboratory focused on plant biology, the building is situated on the edge of Cambridge Botanical gardens and is, itself quite porous. This is most apparent in the sky-lit laboratories. These spaces look like science labs from the future even if they also look slightly empty in the photos above. You can watch an interview with the architects about the building here, or watch this video of a camera rolling around and through the building.