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Shaftesbury Theatre extension and Chester’s Storyhouse named among UK’s best buildings

The extension of the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre was completed while the auditorium remained operational. Photo: Peter Cook The extension of the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre was completed while the auditorium remained operational. Photo: Peter Cook
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Storyhouse in Chester, Liverpool’s Royal Court and the Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End are among the winners of the Royal Institute of British Architect’s 2018 national awards.

Storyhouse, a redevelopment of an Odeon cinema into an all-day library and theatre operation, opened to audiences last year and was officially opened by the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex this month.

It is one of two winning buildings designed by Bennetts Associates, the architects behind the extension of the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre. Works included the addition of a new flytower, offices and plant rooms, all completed while the auditorium remained fully operational.

Liverpool’s Royal Court, which also won a conservation award, recently completed a decade-long project to transform the venue – which receives little public funding – into a sustainable theatre for 21st-century audiences.

The three theatres are among the 49 new buildings nationwide that have been announced as winners of the RIBA National Awards, which form the longlist for the organisation’s flagship award, the Stirling Prize.

Other cultural buildings include the Royal Academy of Music in London, which has recently completed the creation of two new performance spaces – a 300-seat theatre and 100-seat recital hall – and Birmingham Conservatoire, a new campus for the music and drama colleges at Birmingham City University.

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Exhibition Road Quarter, which opened earlier this year, is also on the list of national winners.

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said: “From exceptional mixed-use buildings that bring a community together, and breathing new life into dilapidated historic buildings, to getting the best value from an awkward site or limited budget, every one of this year’s award winners is a testament to the architects’ skill in solving a range of challenges to create projects that will inspire and delight their users and communities for years to come.”

The Stirling Prize shortlist will be announced on July 19, and the winner on October 10.

Previous Stirling Prize winners include the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, which won in 2014.

Everyman in Liverpool wins 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize

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