The completion of the 2009 WAN AWARDS residential sector marks the end of the first year of a monumentous enterprise. Assembling panels of international experts from around the world, each selected specifically for a particular sector has been no mean task. Running what we now know to be the largest International Awards programme in architecture has created some interesting logistical challenges but with the aid of our state of the art digital technology we believe that we have achieved our aim of 'celebrating architecture, sustainably'. Our pool of international jury members drawn from 19 nationalities has successfully used WAN’s unique system of remote judging to reduce travelling and flights to an absolute minimum.
Having sat in on the judging of all six sectors I can say that amongst the 684 entries from 51 countries we have seen some of the most amazing architecture on the planet cross the table at the WAN HQ in London. It’s truly humbling to see the judges, often competitors outside of the room, work together to identify the merits of a particular scheme. They know how much work goes into a design and will always go that extra mile to ensure that a building gets a fair assessment.
It’s also very special when a scheme appears that instantly wins the hearts and minds of the panel. A building that doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes but just has that wonderful 'Va va Voom !' that generates sighs around the room. The Citroën showroom by Parisian architect Manuelle Guatrand was one of these, winning the much-coveted Commercial Sector award. The client, Citroën was naturally delighted and immediately activated its own PR machine. It’s this kind of effect that reminds us of the important spin-off benefits for winners of the WAN AWARDS.
The panels usually comprise a cross section of the key stakeholders involved in realising a project. Whilst predominantly architects, they also include representatives from; developers, clients, teachers, government procurement agencies, universities, engineers and even students. The sessions are often colourful with 'expressive' architects such as Will Alsop and Piers Gough being balanced by other more 'pragmatic' views from around the table.
The other feedback that we are delighted with is the 'level playing field' that participants often comment on. It’s not unusual to see the jury deliberating between a 'Foster' and an unknown architect from Asia.
All in all it’s been a fantastic year and I would like to thank all the participants on behalf of the team here at WAN who are already gearing up for the 2010 Awards which we aim to make even more wider reaching and universally acclaimed.
(The Education Sector is currently open for entries. CLICK HERE to learn more.
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