Riba Stirling Prize 2014: Manchester School of Art

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The UK's most prestigious prize for new buildings, the Riba Stirling Prize, will be awarded on 16 October. BBC News Online, in partnership with Riba, is taking a look at each of the contenders for the prize. Manchester School of Art was designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

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Staff and students at Manchester Art School talk about the building

It was designed with a message in mind - that art is important. "Arts and culture have a vital role in the education of our young people and in the values of society," wrote Manchester Metropolitan University's Vice Chancellor, Professor John Brooks, about the new building.

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Professor John Brooks on investing in a new building for Manchester School of Art

The building is largely open plan with large windows and a seven storey glass facade. The public can see in and watch the students at work - they become part of the exhibit as much as their art work that adorns the walls.

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Architects Keith Bradley and Tom Jarman explain the design of the building

The school combines gallery space, studios, workshops and teaching spaces. Different disciplines are encouraged to collaborate - fine arts, graphics and fashion work together and share spaces, learning from each other and sharing techniques and skills. It also has the look of a professional office, preparing students for life beyond their course.

The building project included the major refurbishment of the original 1960s tower that housed the art school, and a new extension. Oak staircases and bridges braced by steel connect the different levels and link new and old parts of the building.

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Rory Olcayto of the Architects' Journal on Manchester School of Art

They also provide a vertical gallery space where students can exhibit their works along the stairs and walkways. Exhibition space is paramount and versatile - the bridge provides extra viewing platforms and wall space and large aircraft hanger style doors on the ground floor can be folded and opened to change the sense of the space.

BBC Riba Stirling Prize 2014

Camera: Miles Massey. Production: John Galliver, Susannah Stevens, Sarah Austin, John Lawrence

Still images by Hufton and Crow Photography

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