Two schools and three major museums are among the buildings up for this year's Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Stirling Prize.
The shortlist, described as "unique" in the award's history, sees two UK schools up against museums in Oxford, Rome and Berlin.
The Bateman's Row mixed-use development in east London rounds off the shortlist for the £20,000 award
The winner will be announced at London's Roundhouse on 2 October.
Christ's College School in Guildford, Surrey, and Clapham Manor Primary School in south-west London are vying with Oxford's recently revamped Ashmolean Museum.
Rome's new contemporary art museum Maxxi is also up for the prestigious award, as is Neues Museum, in Berlin.
Now in its 15th year, the Riba Stirling Prize is awarded to the architects of the best new European building which is "built or designed in Britain".
Bookmakers William Hill have placed striking labyrinth Maxxi as its 1/1 even favourite to scoop the prize.
Riba president Ruth Reed said: "Unique in the history of the Riba Stirling Prize, three major museum buildings make up half of the list, showing us three very different ways of building and re-building museums and galleries.
"They are the fruits of the economic boom of the last decade and sadly may represent the end of an era.
"This is also the first year that two schools have been shortlisted for the prize. They represent what all schools should be: light, well laid out and well-equipped environments in which all students can flourish.
"Investment in well-designed schools demonstrates to teachers and pupils how much they are valued and has measurable impact - attendance and results rise; truancy and bullying fall.
"With the programme to improve our extremely poor school estate now much reduced - it could be some time before we see such exemplar school buildings on the Stirling shortlist again."
The six Riba Stirling Prize judges will visit the six shortlisted buildings before choosing a winner on the day of the presentation.
The panel includes Ms Reed, Professor Lisa Jardine and BBC broadcaster Mark Lawson.