Contemporary art museum the Hepworth Wakefield has won an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), being named the Regional Building of the Year for 2012.
This year the RIBA Award; which has been running since 1966, has gone to a wide range of buildings, from a house in the shape of a sand dune to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium. The award is judged and presented locally and recognises great architecture regardless of shape, size, location or budget.
Although the Hepworth lost out to the Royal Albert Museum in Exeter for this year’s £100,000 Art Fund Prize for Museums, the gallery, which is the largest purpose-built exhibition space outside London, has gone from strength to strength, being described by The Independent as “one of the finest contemporary art museums in Europe.”
The gallery includes work from Wakefield’s art collection, exhibitions by modern artists and rarely seen works by Barbara Hepworth. The Hepworth also displays an exhibition by Glasgow artist Luke Fowler, winner of the Donald Dewer Arts Award and a contender for this year’s Turner Prize.
The Hepworth is one of three projects in Yorkshire whose designs are being recognised by the RIBA. The gallery, along with Saxton apartments in Leeds and Kirk Balk Community College in Barnsley, is amongst 59 buildings in the UK and Europe which have received RIBA Awards for their designs.
RIBA says of the Hepworth Wakefield “approached across an elegant bridge, the gallery’s scale changes. What appears to be a fairly random set of boxes in plan soon reveals its logic, with spaces such as the shop, cafe, education room and offices on the ground floor radiating out from the entrance space.
“The long slit roof-light in each of the en-filade first floor galleries models each space, while the carefully placed windows serve to rest the eye and constantly locate the building against the local context.”