The Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) in Lima, designed by Grafton Architects, has been declared the world’s best new building as the winner of the 2016 RIBA International Prize. Designed by Ireland-based architecture firm Grafton Architects in collaboration with local partners Shell Arquitectos, the UTEC building has been likened by the Royal Institute of British Architects jury to a “modern day Machu Picchu” due to its towering and terraced concrete form. The university building is located in the city’s Barranco district and was created to equip young Peruvians with the skills and opportunities needed for social mobility.
The grand jury, chaired by world-renowned architect Richard Rogers, commended UTEC as an inspirational example of civic architecture in empowering people and societies to innovate and progress. The vertical campus building is made up of landscaped terraces with clefts, overhangs, and grottos to provide natural ventilation, shade, open circulation, and exposed meeting spaces. This permeability puts the building’s activity on full display to the surrounding neighborhood to help blend UTEC into Lima’s urban fabric.
“UTEC is an exceptional example of civil architecture – a building designed with people at its heart,” said the RIBA jury. “Grafton Architects have created a new way to think about a university campus, with a distinctive ‘vertical campus’ structure responding to the temperate climatic conditions and referencing Peru’s terrain and heritage. Sitting on the border of two residential districts in Lima, in section UTEC perches tantalizingly on the edge of a ravine. Seen from across the ravine it is as bold and as pure a statement of the symbiosis between architecture and engineering as could be imagined; a piece of geology imposed on its pivotal site, mirroring the organic curve of the landscape and accommodating itself in the city. To its close neighbours, it is a series of landscaped terraces with clefts, overhangs and grottos, a modern day Machu Picchu.”
Images by Iwan Baan