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The UK’s best new building is one that holds the art collection of Damien Hirst

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The Newport Street Gallery has won Britain’s most prestigious architecture award

This year’s RIBA Stirling Prize—considered the most prestigious architecture award in the United Kingdom—has been given to the Newport Street Gallery, according to Designboom. The gallery is actually an expansive complex of old and new structures that were integrated by Caruso St John Architects to house Damien Hirst’s personal art collection.

The project was comprised of almost an entire street of industrial buildings in Vauxhall, South London. The goal was to connect them all and build out a modern gallery space inside. In total, there are now five buildings, which includes the conversion of three industrial structures. The entire space spans 37,000 square feet.

The gallery stretches about half the length of the street, and is decked out with curvaceous staircases. The historic brick facade was also integrated into the interiors, which boast concrete floors and towering ceilings. The roof of the tallest structure was designed specifically to accommodate sculpture work.

RIBA judges called the architect’s approach to the project "irreverent yet sensitive." They said it "achieves a clever solution that expresses a poetic juxtaposition of old and new. The collection of buildings is beautifully curated, pulled together by the use of brick yet still expressive of their individuality. The playful use of LED technology gives a contemporary addition to the façade." RIBA president Jane Duncan praised Caruso St John for having "created a stunningly versatile space from a number of linked buildings."

The Newport Street Gallery is the result of a longterm plan of Damien Hirst’s to make his private art collection available to a greater audience. (The building can be visited by the public for free.) Here’s what Peter St John, one of the architects, had to say of the final result: "We see the building as a palace for direct, intimate and luxurious encounters with contemporary art, and we are very pleased that this award will bring more people to see this extraordinary collection."

Photos by Hélène Binet, courtesy of RIBA