Day centre for the elderly wins RIBA Stirling Prize 2023

Photography is by Jim Stephenson.

A retirement day centre in Blackheath, London has been named the UK’s best new building. The Stirling Prize was announced in Manchester on 19 October. The John Morden Centre was designed by Mae Architects.

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 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.”

The building was designed to combat loneliness

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

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.

"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."

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