14th September 2018
RIBA International Prize 2018 – shortlist announced

The four buildings in the running for the RIBA International Prize 2018 have been announced. The prestigious prize, awarded every two years, rewards the most inspirational and significant new buildings across the globe and celebrates international architectural talent .

The shortlist for the RIBA International Prize 2018 is:

Central European University​ (Phase 1), Budapest, by O’Donnell + Tuomey
A new university campus in the heart of Budapest that successfully links old buildings and
courtyards to create vibrant new spaces.

Children Village​, Brazil, by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum
A new boarding school on the edge of the Amazon offering education and accommodation to
the children of rural farm workers.

Toho Gakuen School of Music​, Tokyo, by Nikken Sekkei
A new virtuoso music school designed to visually connect, rather than isolate, practising

Il Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest)​, Milan, by Boeri Studio
The second of two residential towers in Milan in which trees and humans coexist, designed to
set a new standard in sustainable housing.

The four buildings have been selected following a rigorous judging process, from a long list of 20 exceptional new projects in 16 countries.

The shortlist will now be finally judged by a distinguished Grand Jury chaired by Elizabeth Diller​, partner of acclaimed US firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and including Joshua Bolchover​, Co-Founding Director of Rural Urban Framework; Gloria Cabral​, Partner of Gabinete de Arquitectura; Peter Clegg​,
Senior Partner of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Kazuyo Sejima​, Founding Partner of SANAA.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said:

“The marker of a truly successful building is the positive contribution it makes to its local context and
people. All four of these projects thoroughly demonstrates visionary, innovative thinking and excellence
of execution, and positively impacts the communities they have been designed for.
Whilst these four buildings are in different time zones and continents, like all great architecture they
share common qualities, of particular note is their sensitivity to their local environment and their
responsiveness to the particular needs of the people that will use them. I am pleased that three of the
four projects are education buildings, providing innovative and inspiring spaces for young people to
live, learn and achieve their potential. The fourth scheme is a bold approach to the greening of high
density urban housing that is already inspiring other cities.
I look forward to seeing which building the distinguished Grand Jury selects as the winner later this

Details of the four buildings shortlisted for the RIBA International Prize 2018 are:

Central European University – Phase 1

As part of a major redevelopment of the Central European University, the architects have added a new
limestone-clad building to a street in the heart of Budapest. Drawing on the city’s unique vernacular,
the new design skilfully knits together several historical buildings and courtyards to create an internal
sequence of spaces and routes. The project brings a total of 35,000m2 of new space to the inner-city
campus, and consists of a new library, an auditorium, teaching and learning facilities, study rooms,
and a café.

Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey of O’Donnell + Tuomey said: “We are delighted to
see the CEU on the shortlist for the RIBA International Prize. This has been a special project for us. An
open campus for a liberal-minded university, the project took us on a journey of discovery into the
architectural, cultural and urban morphology of Budapest, involving us in sometimes sympathetic,
sometimes controversial discussions with the city authorities during the design process. We wanted
the building to fit into its context, but to fit in by standing out. Now that its built, the project seems to
be widely accepted and well understood as belonging to its place, a new part of the old city.”

Children Village

Children Village, located in a rural area on the outskirts of the Amazon, provides boarding
accommodation for 540 senior school children at the Canuanã School. Largely made from
locally-sourced timber, the Brazilian architects exploited the abundant natural resources surrounding
the site in an innovative way, thus promoting both economic and environmental sustainability.
A variety of interacting spaces – from dormitories and reading spaces to balconies and hammocks –
were designed together with the students in order to improve their quality of life and refine the bond
between them and the school. Children Village is an exemplar of how architecture can stimulate its
users, as well as the surrounding community, in a region rich in natural resources but poor in
educational opportunities.
Gustavo Utrabo and Pedro Duschenes from Brazilian architecture practice Aleph Zero said: “To be
recognized by one of the leading architectural associations in the world reveals the work’s coherence
and indicates that the issues raised, while deeply linked to the local situation, reverberate with a broad
spectrum of current political, economic and social challenges.”

Toho Gakuen School of Music

Toho Gakuen School of Music is a famous music college in the suburbs of Tokyo. This new open-plan
campus replaced an earlier building on the site, which had a conventional arrangement of cellular
practice rooms along a corridor with no natural light. Conversely, this virtuoso piece of architecture
has an almost village-like quality with independent teaching spaces, neat communal spaces, and lots
of natural light thanks to exposure to the exterior.
Guided by the imperative of optimum acoustics, the Japanese architects have ensured that each
lesson room has a proportion and size requested by each instrument, and is arranged with a void
space in between, such as a corridor, to provide acoustic separation. As a result, music from each
room can be heard in the corridor, but in the rooms there is silence.
Tomo Yamanashi of Japanese architecture practice NIKKEN SEKKEI said: “We are greatly honoured
that Toho Gakuen Music School has been shortlisted for the 2018 RIBA International Awards. The
work aimed at breaking away from the typical model that can be seen in standard music schools,
where lesson rooms are placed along gloomy internal corridors. We are looking forward to seeing how
our challenge of creating a new natural scenery from the overlapping of many kinds of parameters –
perhaps a very Japanese approach to using computational design – is evaluated in the UK.”

Vertical forest (​Il Bosco Verticale)​

Vertical forest is the second of two residential towers in Milan representing a new approach to high
rise buildings in which trees and humans coexist. The project consists of two towers of 80m and
112m, planted with almost 17,000 trees, shrubs and plants. This provides the equivalent greenery of
20,000m2 of forest and undergrowth.

A project of urban reforestation, Vertical Forest has wide-reaching environmental benefits. Not only
does it increase biodiversity by repopulating the city’s flora and fauna, but it even creates its own
microclimate to filter fine particles and improve air quality. The building also presents a smart solution
to control urban expansion, with each tower constituting the equivalent of a peripheral area of single
family houses and buildings of around 50,000 m2.

Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca, Giovanni La Varra of Italian architecture practice Boeri Studio
said: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for RIBA International Prize 2018. The RIBA judges
buildings on their technological innovation and social value as well as by aesthetic qualities, and we are
delighted that Vertical Forest is seen to represent these values. Since its completion, the Milan Vertical
Forest has become the prototype for numerous buildings around the world that now host living nature
on their façades. We are happy that architects and engineers all over the world are recognising the
challenge of climate change and embracing a radically new and sustainable model of urban
architecture to create the city of the future.”

In 2016, the inaugural RIBA International Prize was awarded to Grafton Architects for their outstanding
university building, UTEC (Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología) in Lima, Peru.

Announced in late November 2018, the 2018 RIBA International Prize will be awarded to a building
that exemplifies design excellence, architectural ambition and delivers meaningful social impact. The
prize is open to any qualified architect in the world, for a building of any size, type or budget.


Images: Central European University – Phase 1, O’Donnell + Tuomey, Photograph by Tam Bujnovszky; Children Village, Rosenbaum + Aleph Zero, Photograph by Leonardo Finotti; Toho Gakuen School Of Music, Nikken Sekkei, Photograph by Harunori Noda; Vertical Forest, Boeri Studio, Photograph by Giovanni Nardi.