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SATURDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2014

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WAN AWARDS Education Shortlist 
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Editorial

Six very different schemes selected for the 2014 WAN Education Award shortlist 

What are the challenges faced by architects designing education buildings? From the huge selection of entries into the 2014 WAN Education Award, we found that there were a number of themes running through the projects in terms of context, location and scale. The jury reviewed each project on a number of factors such as innovation, sustainability, originality, form and special quality. But the main points of interest were how the challenges of the brief were overcome and how the buildings enhanced the learning environment.

Our panel was made up of seven top industry players: Madeline Burke-Vigeland, Principle at Gensler; Peter Clegg, Founder of Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios; Robert Hopkins, Global Education Lead at Aedas; Joseph Tattoni, Design Principal at ikon.5 architects; Sarah Williams, Founder of S Williams Architects Ltd; Steven Turkes, K-12 Education Global Market Leader at Perkins + Will; and Benedict Zucchi, Director at Building Design Partnership.

From the longlist of 47 projects, the jury were tasked with selecting just six to move forward to the next stage. From these six schemes, a single winner would be selected as there can only be one winner in each sub category (completed and future schemes).

In alphabetical order, the six projects selected for the 2014 WAN Education Award shortlist are:

Abedian School of Architecture, Gold Cost, Australia by CRAB Studio

Located at the existing Bond University campus, this school of architecture was drawn-up with a sense of theatre, an approach often found in CRAB Studio university schemes. Jurors Peter Clegg and Robert Hopkins both commented that it ‘looks pretty amazing’, with Hopkins adding ‘it’s very original; the work with concrete is brilliant’.

Children’s Culture House in Ama’r, Copenhagen, Denmark by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter

This scheme claimed a place on the shortlist and captured the attention of the jury for the challenges overcome by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter. “It’s very playful and the design handles scale very well,” said Sarah Williams, noting that the interior and exterior were both very pleasing. Steve Turkes also backed the scheme, stating: “The project…does not fall into the trap of an adult’s trite idea of what a learning environment for young children should look like.” Part of a larger regeneration scheme, Children’s Culture House has knitted the surrounding buildings together to form a ‘special’ building that offers flexible spaces to children from 0-18 years old.

Departments of Law and Central Administration, Vienna, Austria by CRAB Studio

This CRAB Studio scheme is built on the long-held belief of practice founders Sir Peter Cook & Gavin Robotham that a lively and successful college building should have generous and engaging internal spaces. The Departments of Law and Central Administration boast a profile inspired by landscape formation and brightly coloured fins to counter the often grey Vienna skies. The jury were quick to highlight this project for the shortlist, with Clegg noting that ‘it’s full of fun’ and Zucchi describing the scheme as an ‘extraordinary thing, a brand new campus that is this extraordinary collection of buildings’.

Health Sciences Education Building, Phoenix, United States by CO Architects

Part of a larger plan for the University of Arizona, the desert-inspired building in the Arizona landscape creates an on campus canyon and ‘fascinating spaces’ throughout, thought Tattoni. The jury wanted to bring this project to the final selection based on it being ‘iconic’ (Tattoni), with Hopkins adding: “The copper cladding in the evening sunshine would look fantastic.” A new landmark for the area, the building provides new resources for its students and a new community for the university.

John Henry Brookes Building, Oxford, United Kingdom by Design Engine Architects

The site provided the cornerstone for a new campus development and the opportunity to build something new for Oxford Brookes University. Clegg describes this scheme as ‘a calm piece of well-knitted architecture’ with Zucchi adding that ‘it looks very spatially intriguing from quite simplistic elements. I like it’. The spaces inside are student-focused, bending to the needs of the inhabitant to provide a more dynamic learning environment.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, United States by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

This huge scale project made it into the final six for a few key reasons. Firstly, as Tattoni remarked, ‘to be able to draft an internal public courtyard is very difficult to do’. The 625,000 sq ft development, dedicated to ‘educating for justice’, catered for a much-needed expansion by the institution which forms part of The City University of New York. Zucchi also made the observation that ‘the handling of the sheer scale is striking in an understated way, inside and out. It’s got the energy of the street and the gardens’.

We’d like to thank all entrants for their fantastic submissions and of course the jurors for their dedicated and meticulous evaluation of each project. Congratulations to the final six! We will be announcing the overall winning project of both the completed and future scheme sub-categories in a few weeks.

Faye Chalmers
Awards Manager

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