Buildings from the Middle East shortlisted for 2018 RIBA prize

Two buildings from Turkey and one from Saudi Arabia have made it onto the list for the 2018 International Prize for best new building, a competition staged by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The winner of the biennial event will be announced in 12 months and will be drawn from 62 projects from around the world, more than double the number selected for the longlist of the inaugural prize in 2016.

The award takes into account the world’s best new buildings completed in the past two years that exemplify “design excellence, architectural ambition and delivering meaningful social impact.”

The 2018 list includes the King Fahad National Library designed by Gerber Architekten, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

King Fahad National Library

Gerber described its project in the following terms: “The symbolic cuboid shape of the new building surrounds the existing building on all sides, thus presenting the National Library as a new architectural image in the cityscape without abandoning the old building, which now operates as an internal stack, making it the centre of knowledge within the new library as a whole.

“The square new building is covered by a filigree textile façade following traditional Middle Eastern architectural patterns and linking them with state-of-the-art technology.”

Also up for the award are two projects in Istanbul, Turkey. They are EAA-Emre Arolat Architecture’s Sancaklar Mosque and Beyazit State Library, designed by Tabanlioglu Architects.

Beyazit State Library

The Sancaklar Mosque emphasises a disconnection from “the chaotic outer world” as it is below a canopy only accessible from a flight of stone steps, leading down from ground level.

The designers said: “The interior of the mosque, a simple cave like space, becomes a dramatic and awe inspiring place to pray and be alone with God. The slits and fractures along the Qiblah wall enhances the directionality of the prayer space and allows daylight to filter into the prayer hall.”

Sancaklar Mosque

The Tabanlioglu development saw the restoration of one of the oldest libraries in the Islamic world.

The architects said: “The minimal intervention approach ensures the spirit of the place survives while modern facilities are grafted onto the historic fabric. The project aims further for environmental betterment, and urban regeneration of the public realm.”

A shortlist for the RIBA International Prize will be selected from the projects by a Grand Jury led by architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

“The RIBA International List 2018 shines a light on the world’s best new buildings and most impressive architectural talent,” said RIBA president, Ben Derbyshire.

“Most importantly, this significant selection of 62 projects illustrates the meaningful impact and transformative quality that well-designed buildings can have on communities, wherever they are in the world.”


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