5 lesser-known architectural wonders in the UK and Ireland – as Norwich council estate wins award

October 9, 2019 12:06:38 PM

Since its inception in 1996, the RIBA Stirling Prize has named the best new building in the UK each year.

The prestigious award is one of the highest accolades in architecture, and has been bestowed upon colossal museums, libraries and skyscrapers. So it may come as a surprise that this year the prize was awarded to a humble block of council flats in Norwich.

The eco-friendly Goldsmith Street estate was hailed a ‘masterpiece’ by the judges, who praised the project for providing high levels of comfort for occupants while being low energy.

Riba Stirling Prize winner
Goldsmith Street in Norwich (Tim Crocker/Riba)

But the Goldsmith Street estate isn’t the only under-the-radar architectural highlight in the UK and Ireland – look past the big hitters and you can find plenty of lesser-known spots to marvel at.

From spectacular libraries to clever cathedrals, here are a few sights you should tick off…

1. Trellick Tower, London

The brutalist beauty of architect Erno Goldfinger’s 1972 estate isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of concrete and urban cityscapes, this Grade II listed building is well worth a visit.

2. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin

This gorgeous, crumbling Georgian Townhouse is one of the finest examples of 18th century housing in Ireland. It’s been lovingly restored and opened to the public as a museum, where visitors can view objects and hear stories of former residents on guided tours.

3. Birmingham Central Library, Birmingham

Birmingham’s mega-library (the largest in Europe) features a sunken amphitheatre, rooftop gardens and a highly Instagrammable golden facade made from metal rings, inspired by the city’s jewellery quarter.

4. Sec Armadillo, Glasgow

No guesses as to how this building got its name. Designed by Foster + Partners, the SEC Armadillo auditorium might look like its namesake animal, but its stylish curves actually reference a group of interlocking ship’s hulls, as a nod to the city’s shipbuilding past.

5. Clifton Cathedral, Bristol

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Bristol’s Grade II-listed Clifton Cathedral has recently undergone a £3 million renovation, breathing new life into its concrete form with trendy design details. Hex-shaped flooring, dimmable LED-lights and a minimalist seating area – it’s possibly the most Pinterest-worthy place of worship in the UK.

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