The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winners of its annual National Awards and European Awards. As was the case last year, the awards are a good opportunity to gauge the current state of top-tier architecture in that part of the world. There's total of 56 winners in all – 44 from the UK and 12 from elsewhere in Europe. Those 56 will eventually be whittled down to 12, before just one is given RIBA's Stirling Award on October 16.

The majority of this year's winners tend to be either large-scale public buildings, or small residential projects – with relatively few commercial and privately-owned buildings. RIBA's judges are of the opinion that this polarization is a result of the recession, and it's a trend that may well continue for some years.

The standout British building is, of course, Renzo Piano's Shard. However, Mecanoo's Library of Birmingham also makes the grade, and Haworth Tompkins' sympathetic renovation of the London Library, which was completed at a cost of £6.9 million (US$11.75 million), impresses by not impressing, but rather remaining true to the building's character.

Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo (Photo: Mecanoo)

Elsewhere in Europe, Denmark wins big – literally – with BIG's Danish Maritime Museum and 3XN's Blue Planet Aquarium winning praise from RIBA's judges. Other notable entries in the EU include Zaha Hadid's Departments Of Law And Central Administration in Vienna University, and Munich's Lenbachhaus by Foster + Partners.

"This year’s RIBA National Award winners show that exceptional architecture can be found anywhere: on any high street, in any village or town, and with any budget," said RIBA President Stephen Hodder. "It is evident that each building on this year’s list has been a labor of love but worth every penny and effort."

Head to the photo gallery for a selection of both UK and European projects.

Source: RIBA