Riba Stirling Prize 2014: Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

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The UK's most prestigious prize for new buildings, the Riba Stirling Prize, will be awarded on 16 October. BBC News Online, in partnership with Riba, is taking a look at each of the contenders for the prize. The London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre was designed by O'Donnell and Tuomey Architects.

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Staff and students discuss the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

Standing in the middle of medieval London streets and period properties, its sharp edges and irregular geometric facets stand out from its surroundings. At the same time, the red brick structure has also been designed to fit in.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) has described it as a "lesson in mobilising the limitations of a site into a startlingly original building which makes a massive contribution to its townscape".

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Architect Sheila O'Donnell describes the LSE's new building

The initial site was small, according to architect Sheila O'Donnell, but she adds that the emphasis on "giving back space" was an important part of the design. Areas have been created for students to congregate and chat.

Every sharp angular side is a response to the building next to it, according to the architects. The corners and brickwork have been constructed to enhance and protect the size and light requirements of the building's neighbours.

The student centre, called the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre after a donor to the project, cost £24,115,600. The basement accommodates a nightclub and bar, which is lit from the daylight at street level. It also comprises a cafe, career office, gym and a multi-faith centre, where students can spend time together and learn about different faiths, or take time alone to meditate.

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Student Anisa Ahmed describes the LSE's new faith centre.

The building was constructed from 46 varieties of standard-shape bricks and 127 specially designed and shaped ones. Out of a total of 175,000, not one of them was cut. Every brick was shaped and baked individually - some are straight, others kink to fit the oddly shaped corners. They are laid in a variety of styles to create subtle patterns, with a section of latticed bricks drawing in light from outside.

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Architect John Tuomey describes how the bricks were made on the LSE's new student centre

Rory Olcayto of the Architects' Journal, describes the building as "a very odd looking building".

He says: "Its facades are irregular and have a triangular geometry that seems at odds with the bricks it's made from, but it's this uncanny appearance that sets it apart."

BBC Riba Stirling Prize 2014

Film by John Galliver, Robert Anderson, Jon Bontoft, Neil Paton. Production: John Galliver, Susannah Stevens, Sarah Austin, John Lawrence.

Still images by Dennis Gilbert and Nigel Stead

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