John Morden Centre by Mae Architects wins 2023 Stirling Prize

The John Morden Centre in London by UK studio Mae Architects has been named the winner of this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize.

Described as “a place of joy and inspiration” by the Stirling Prize jury, the building is a daycare centre for the residents of the Morden College retirement community.

It is the first time that Mae Architects, which was also shortlisted for last year’s prize, has won the UK’s top honour.

The John Morden Centre
The John Morden Centre has won the 2023 Stirling Prize

“The John Morden Centre is a place of joy and inspiration, said RIBA Stirling Prize jury chair Ellen van Loon. “It sensitively and seamlessly integrates medical facilities and social spaces, delivering a bold and hopeful model for the design of health and care centres for the elderly.”

“Creating an environment that lifts the spirits and fosters community is evident at every turn and in every detail,” she continued.

“This 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.”

Cross-laminated timber community centre
The building was made from cross-laminated timber

Built from a cross-laminated frame, the building is an addition to a retirement community with 300 residents in Blackheath, southeast London.

It contains medical facilities, including doctor and physiotherapy consultation rooms, as well as a cafe, art studios and a 100-seat events space.

Cafe in retirement community by Mae
It contains community functions including a cafe

One of the key aims of the building was to create spaces that help foster a community atmosphere that would help combat loneliness.

“Loneliness and isolation are critical issues, particularly for older people,” said RIBA president Muyiwa Oki.

Brick facade of John Morden Centre by Mae ArchitectsBrick facade of John Morden Centre by Mae Architects Mae designs senior day-care centre in southeast London to tackle social isolation

“The John Morden Centre’s elegance and efficacy set a high standard for spaces that support healthier, happier and more independent lives. It illustrates the positive potential of architecture to strengthen vibrant and active communities,” he continued.

“This is a skilfully designed package that minimises the building’s impact on our planet’s delicate ecology, while also harnessing the therapeutic value of the surrounding nature. It stands as a testament to the vision and ambition of Morden College, Mæ’s creativity – and the exemplary collaboration between them.”

Mae Stirling Prize winning building
The building was designed to combat loneliness

This year’s Stirling Prize was chosen by a jury that included OMA partner Van Loon along with Foster + Partners senior partner Armstrong Yakubu, journalist Mona Chalabi, Buckley Gray Yeoman head of sustainability Rachael Owens, Autodesk head of industry associations strategy Marek Suchocki and Niall McLaughlin Architects founder Niall McLaughlin.

Last year’s prize was won by a brick and timber library at the University of Cambridge by Niall McLaughlin Architects. In 2021, the prize was awarded to Kingston University London – Town House by Grafton Architects.

The photography is by Jim Stephenson.

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