Derry building up for world prize

Image caption,
The building won an Irish architectural prize earlier this year

A building in Londonderry is in the running to become World Building of the Year.

An Gaeláras - Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin is a £4m purpose-built Irish language, cultural and enterprise centre, designed by Dublin-based architects O'Donnell and Tuomey.

It has been nominated in the community category, with the results to be announced at the World Architecture Festival in November.

To win the ultimate prize it faces stiff competition from Soccer City in Johannesburg, the Apple Store in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In April, the building picked up an Architectural Association of Ireland award.

Based near Derry's walls, the centre is a hub for a variety of different cultural and arts organisations throughout the Northwest region.

Rob Gregory is an architect and assistant editor of the Architectural Review. He's also an awards judge and is a fan of An Gaeláras.

"It's a very specific building, the building couldn't exist anywhere else," he said.

"The site is very important historically and the architects have created some incredible spaces, internally and externally."

The central space is crossed by stairs, bridges and platforms providing access to classrooms, offices, social and performance spaces.

A team from O'Donnell and Tuomey will travel to the festival in Barcelona and pitch to a panel why they think their building should win, and Rob Gregory thinks they are in with a good chance.

"These architects have a very good reputation all over the world," he said.

"Two years ago a very small project nearly won, so it's not always the size or spectacular nature of the project that wins the day."

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