Centro Magna, Rotherham
Seven buildings vied for the Stirling Prize, created in 1996 in memory of the British master, and with the support of The Architect’s Journal, to acknowledge the most significant work erected each year in the United Kingdom. The Magna Center, an interactive science museum fitted out by the studio of Wilkinson Eyre in an old steelworks plant of Rotherham, to the south of Yorkshire – built in 1917 and unoperational since 1993 – carried the day over the Eden Project by Nicholas Grimshaw, the extension of the National Portrait Gallery carried out by Dixon Jones, or the British Embassy in Berlin, by Michael Wilford. The intervention did not alter the colossal dimensions of the original building, 350 m long and 35 m high, the interior of which now accommodates four thematic pavilions dedicated, respectively, to earth, air, water, and fire. Its new use is manifested externally through a metal sheet cladding with an intense reddish tone that frames the old and rusty cranes, preserved as a salute to the place’s industrial past. Since its inauguration in April, over 300,000 have visited the museum.