Pears Building scoops architecture excellence award

26 May 2023

A recently-constructed building in the heart of Hampstead has this month been named among the best new buildings in London. The Pears Building, commissioned by the Royal Free Charity and designed by Hopkins Architects, has scooped a 2023 RIBA London Award.

Presented since 1966, RIBA’s awards set the standard for great architecture across the country. News of the RIBA award comes a month after the building achieved a highly commended accolade at the 2023 Civic Trust Awards, which celebrate excellence in architecture that is sustainable, accessible and provides a positive civic contribution.

RIBA President, Simon Allford, said: “Winning a RIBA regional award is a fantastic achievement. These projects, selected by a rigorous peer review process, represent the very best of the region’s new architecture. Inspiring buildings and spaces bring joy to all our lives, and this year’s award winners certainly fit that bill. Many congratulations to all.”

The building houses UCL’s Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT), two floors of accommodation for patients of the Royal Free Hospital and those taking part in clinical trials, and the charity’s office headquarters. There’s also a café, open to the public, in the building’s main atrium.

The partnership between the charity, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL) and the IIT means:

  • scientists have greater access to patient samples, helping to ensure that laboratory work goes in the right direction to improve care for patients
  • patients have greater access to clinical trials and new treatments

Jon Spiers, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “The RIBA awards are synonymous with architectural excellence, so we’re delighted for everyone involved in the project from concept to delivery that we’ve received this accolade.

“It was always our aspiration that the Pears Building would not only provide the perfect conditions for scientists to tackle some of the most pressing issues in immunology research, but that it would be a landmark that Hampstead residents could be really proud of.”

All RIBA London Awards winners will be considered for the RIBA National Award, scheduled to be announced on June 22nd.

The building

Located on the Royal Free Hospital campus in Hampstead, the building’s innovative design includes a green roof, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting systems, reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to the RFL’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The £60 million project is the result of a unique partnership between philanthropy, science and medicine. It allows research and medicine to work side-by-side, speeding up the pathway of new discoveries from laboratory to direct patient care.

Since the building opened:

  • Researchers housed in the building have played a key role in vital COVID-19 research and in stem-cell and gene therapy treatments designed to prevent organ rejection.
  • Scientists have also worked to inspire the next generation of researchers by hosting a number of visits from local schoolchildren.
  • The patient accommodation has provided over 7,000 bookings.
  • The Royal Free Charity’s open plan office and meeting rooms occupy one floor of the building.
  • An army of volunteers assembles at the charity’s offices every day to check in and be assigned their duties at the neighbouring Royal Free Hospital. In 2022, volunteers gave 26,000 hours of their time to support staff and patients.
  • A community cafe has opened in the atrium, welcoming local residents into the building.

Read about the Pears Building on the RIBA website.


The Royal Free Charity is an NHS charity supporting the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. Its vision is for everyone served by the Royal Free London to have access to world-leading healthcare, delivered by a thriving workforce and driven by medical research that has a global impact. The charity funds medical research, facilities and services at Barnet, Chase Farm and the Royal Free hospitals, all of which is made possible thanks to the generosity of supporters.