The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima, Peru, designed by Irish architecture firm, Grafton Architects, has today been shortlisted for the inaugural RIBA International Prize alongside five other major international projects, in competition to win the award for the best new building in the world. The UTEC is a new faculty for a 50-year-old engineering university to enable young Peruvians to gain engineering qualifications and to increase social mobility. Completed in 2015, this powerful statement of a building symbolises a bold and positive future for Peru. Drawing on the temperate climate of the city and its cultural environment, Grafton Architects have created an innovative solution to the architectural programme in the design of a vertical concrete campus, which combines open-ended spaces of circulation with a series of suspended platforms that wind their way through the structural frame, offering a balance between enclosed and exposed spaces.
Inspired by the dramatic geographical backdrop of Lima, the architects imagined the building as a man-made ‘cliff’ situated at the border of two residential districts. The surrounding landscape is woven into the fabric of the building with the architects having terraced the lecture rooms, laboratories and teaching spaces so that their roofs become cascading gardens, reminiscent of the cultivated terraces of Machu Picchu. The UTEC is the culmination of years of spatial and formal experimentation by award-winning Irish architecture firm Grafton Architects. Despite their European background, the architects have achieved a building which responds to the distinct geographic and urban context of Lima, which is deep-rooted in Latin-American tradition and which constitutes an innovative solution to the architectural programme.
The UTEC is one of six new buildings shortlisted for the inaugural RIBA International Prize, following a rigorous judging process where the RIBA awards committee travelled across 5 continents this summer. The six buildings will be visited again by the Grand Jury of the prize, chaired by Lord Richard Rogers of Riverside, before the winner for 2016 is announced on 24 November 2016. Other buildings on the shortlist are: The Heydar Aliyev Centre (Zaha Hadid Architects); Stormen Concert Hall (DRDH Architects); Arcquipelago Contemporary Arts Centre (Menos é Mais Aquitectos Associados); Museo Jumex (David Chipperfield Architects); the Ring of Remembrance, International WWI Memorial of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (Agence d’Architecture Philippe Prost). The RIBA International Prize will be awarded to the most transformative building of the year which demonstrates visionary, innovative thinking, excellence of execution, and makes a distinct contribution to its users and to its physical context. Unlike any previous RIBA award for architecture, the RIBA International Prize is open to any qualified architect in the world.
Grafton Architects was established in 1978. Directors Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara are both graduates of UCD, are Fellows of the RIAI, are International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA and are elected members of Aosdána, the eminent Irish Art organisation. Teachers at the School of Architecture at University College Dublin from 1976 to 2002 and appointed adjunct Professors in 2015. They have held the Kenzo Tange chair at GSD Harvard and the Louis Kahn chair at Yale University and have been visiting professors at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland; Accademia d’Archittettura, Mendrisio, Switzerland, where they were appointed as full professors in 2013. They have been external examiners at numerous universities including Cambridge University and The London Metropolitan School of Architecture. As well as public lectures in Dublin and abroad, including the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and the Royal Academy in London, they have lectured widely in European and American Schools of Architecture.