Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre Wins 2014 Stirling Prize

The new Everyman Theatre in Liverpool by Haworth Tompkins has won the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize 2014 for the best building of the year. Now in its 19th year, the RIBA Stirling Prize is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize and this year’s award is given out by a panel of judges that was led this year by Spencer de Grey, senior partner at architectural practice Foster + Partners.

The old Everyman Theatre opened in 1964 in the shell of a nineteenth century chapel on one of Liverpool’s main streets. Although a much-loved institution, the building itself was in a state of disrepair. The decision to pull the theatre down and replace it with a new one has been a nine-year project for the architects Haworth Tompkins. They have expertly met a difficult challenge: that of creating an entirely new and sustainable building, whilst retaining and revitalising the best-loved features of its predecessor. The architects were tasked with ensuring that the soul of the old Everyman, one of informality and community ownership – the ‘theatre of the people’ – was carried into the new building. The result is a new building with a striking exterior and elegant interior, all with exceptional attention to detail and sustainability credentials.

This is the first time Haworth Tompkins has won the RIBA Stirling Prize. They were previously shortlisted in 2007 for London’s Young Vic theatre. The Everyman is their first new-build theatre, amongst a portfolio of over a dozen theatres from the Royal Court in 2000 to the recent temporary ‘Shed’ outside the National Theatre. The theatre’s Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz and Executive Director Deborah Aydon described the building: ‘The Everyman was built with humanity at its heart, an intent embodied by the 105 people of Liverpool on its façade. Haworth Tompkins have delivered us a building that is sustainable, technically first rate and with unparalleled levels of accessibility for a theatre. On a small site with many competing needs and technical necessities they overcame every challenge with zeal and imagination to create something which is a beautiful as it is functional. But most of all they have transformed a building that lacked so much into a building that embodies what the Everyman’s ethos has always been: world-class theatre in our auditorium, nurturing new writing, great food in convivial spaces, and somewhere for young people to dream of a future where nothing is impossible.’

Rujana Rebernjak