2002 – Hampden Gurney shortlisted for Stirling Prize


This was our first project to be shortlisted for the coveted Stirling Prize, the design reinvented the idea of the urban school – but it wasn’t plain sailing.

I remember lead architect Tony McGuirk’s frustration with the education authority at the time; they were reluctant to embrace the idea of a vertical school with external play decks. Eventually it got built and was heralded as an exemplar for future urban schools! We later went on to design a second version in Blackpool which also won an RIBA Award. It’s surprising that the idea hasn’t caught on more but it certainly gave us a timely foothold in school design, just before the Labour government swept to power and set about rebuilding every school in England!


Story by Chris Harding