Six diverse projects highlight the best in commercial architecture
The WAN Commercial Award 2016, now in its eighth year, is a major international competition. This award celebrates pioneering projects that are purposed for business activities. Open to completed projects, we’re searching for designs that push commercial architecture into new and exciting directions – whether an office, restaurant, retail outlet, hotel or shopping mall.
Entries were judged by a panel of industry professionals, each of whom has considerable experience within the commercial sector.
This year’s panel were: Sarah Brown, Director at TateHindle, Stephen Pey, Director at EPR Architects, Paul Collins, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at HOK and Julian Weyer, Partner at C.F. Møller Architect.
The jury were impressed with the high standard of all of this year’s entries and had the difficult task of selecting a shortlist. However, after much discussion, the panel agreed on a shortlist of six, listed below in no particular order:
Swedbank Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden by 3XN Architects
After four decades in Stockholm’s central business district, Swedbank had outgrown its existing headquarters and wanted a new building that embraced the working methods and technology associated with banking in the 21st century and reinforced its brand as an innovative financial institution. They boldly relocated 8km to a strategically-positioned site in Sundbyberg. The bank retained 3XN to design a headquarters that supported the staff of 2,700 and expressed its core values: openness, simplicity and care.
3XN’s design reinforces the new ethos of ‘one office space – one company,’ making the bank’s many different departments feel like a cohesive whole. The architectural theme is a folded “triple v” structure that breaks up volumes and creates an inviting democratic environment.
The judges were impressed with the working spaces the architects were able to create, with Julian commenting: “A very nice mix of diversity and efficiency make this a convincing scheme. I especially like the approach to forming routes and niches throughout the structure, and the way activity-based working is integrated without compromising the coherence of the overall architectural language.”
Sarah agreed with Julian and applauded the architects considering the complexities of the site: “This project maximises the use of its difficult site. Seldom would you find a building of such a mass and volume that can still create small spaces for staff to have intimate meetings, but to also have all the circulation for sharing opportunities for collaboration.”
Manshausen Island Resort in Norskot, Norway by Stinessen Arkitektur AS
Manshausen Island is situated in the Steigen Archipelago off the coast of Northern Norway.
The resort was planned and laid out in consideration of the Island´s topography and the two main existing structures – the old farmhouse and the stone quays. The old farmhouse has been carefully restored and houses a common dining area and library.
The cabins are all but one placed on the stone quays, partially cantilevered above the sea, one placed on a natural shelf on the rocky formations above. The positioning and orientation of all the cabins is based on the consideration of their individual panoramic views and privacy for the guests.
Stephen shared his views on the project: “The response to its site is very sensitive, because of its scale, I think it’s very successful. It needs to be small and cabin-like, and certain details are very, very interesting. I think the whole ethos behind the project, the way it touches the earth, and how it opens up to the landscape, It’s quite beautiful.”
Julian agreed, saying: “Gorgeous project, very cleverly thought out, executed and very, very convincing. I really like it, especially the combination of the no nonsense approach in the details and materials, and the sexiness of the overall impression; Tiny, but really special.”
One New Street Square in London, United Kingdom by Robin Partington & Partners
Building on the success of New Street Square, with its striking architecture and high profile business occupiers, One New Street Square is the final jewel in the crown of this Land Securities landmark development.
Important for the regeneration of this area of London, the building provides 276,500 ft² of BCO Grade A, BREEAM Excellent office space, anchoring a key address and was pre-let in its entirety to Deloitte LLP more than a year ahead of completion.
The curved glazed prows, stepping flanks and aluminium solar shading fins engage in a delightful architectural relationship, with detailing carefully considered to provide richness when seen from near and far. Internally, the uniquely profiled fins maintain fantastic panoramic views along adjacent streets and across the city.
Stephen complemented the impressive exterior: “It breaks down the façade well, you get one big mass but it almost looks like two buildings which is great.”
Paul applauded the commercial success of the project, considering its difficult location: “To satisfy the City of London, the corporate clients, the build-ability, the budget, the complexities in a building such as this in that location are just phenomenal.”
CASINO OVALLE / HOTEL KEO in LIMARÍ VALLEY, Ovalle, Chile by Turner Arquitectos
About 3 kms from the city centre, away from the urban grid, stands the Casino and Hotel Ovalle, founding a citadel in the middle of the valley of the Limarí. As well as the ancient inhabitants of the valley settled to the interior of the gullies; real cracks that striped the central plateau of the valley, this intervention aims to constitute a new gully on this new site. This crack seeks to give refuge through its nooks, which generate a sequence of indoor and outdoor spaces that are hidden from the outside traffic and tracks, favouring the calm and rest.
A large perimeter stone pirca delimits the living space of this new citadel. On it lie the volumes that contain the various components of the architectural program forming a square floor plan, which cuts through diagonally, forming the central crack of convergence.
Sarah shared her views on the project, commenting: “What captured me about this project is the mix of uses within the scheme and the way that the materials and the form sit within the landscape. There are some great uses of roof spaces for cacti gardens; there are a lot of hidden designs within the scheme for irrigation, which ultimately combines so much together to form the public realm, retail and hotel in one space, which is a difficult feat.”
Julian added: “I like the incorporation of native landscape and construction features, and there are some striking contrasts in the use of concrete.”
Waldorf Astoria Beijing in Beijing, China by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
The new 176-room Waldorf Astoria Hotel is now open in the heart of downtown Beijing, adjacent to the famous high-end walking shopping district, Wang Fu Jing. The hotel was designed as a contemporary interpretation of the Forbidden City, one of China’s most important historical treasures, located two blocks west. This specific design influence can be seen stylistically in the hotel’s symmetry, prominent eaves, and its generous use of bronze.
The bronze façade was introduced to the design as a thoughtful response to traditional Chinese architecture and as an exquisite way to represent the Waldorf Astoria brand. Bronze was used in large areas of the exterior, as well as on window mullions, small clad sunshades, and perforated screens. Other high-end traditional materials were used to the same effect: grey granite was used as a background material on the walls, recalling the historic charcoal bricks of Beijing’s traditional residential streets.
Stephen praised the ‘thought’ that had gone into the project, commenting: “I really like this project for the restraint shown along with the detailing and use of materials, is very rigorous and very beautiful. There has clearly been a lot of thought gone into the project, it kind of has a craft, in the way it has been put together due to the natural materials being used. Proportionally it’s an elegant building which really responds well to its context with slight variations with the window box theme that goes around the building, I find it very successful.”
Paul, added: “It’s very difficult to create a timeless classic, it’s not easy to actually accomplish that. Aesthetically it’s right on the button, but it’s not trying to be more than it is.”
Puma Energy El Salvador Headquarters in San Salvador, El Salvador by Ruiz Pardo - Nebreda Arquitectos
Puma Energy Corporate Headquarter is located on the Pan-American highway, passing through San Salvador. The new building, which is inserted between the existing commercial and industrial buildings that characterize this stretch of road with barely public profile, overlooks the road with a powerful cantilever taking part of the intensity of the traffic, showing its interior activity and acting as an innovative element of the urban landscape.
The building consists of two superimposed and arranged crosswise blocks, interlacing solids and voids all around them. Thus, a progressive sequence of compressions and expansions arranges and qualifies the circulation and access areas.
Julian praised the architect’s use of materials, saying: “A very elegant and gorgeous structure and great use of the rough concrete frame. I really like it, I love the simple and well-proportioned design and the precise materiality.”
Sarah summed up the judge’s thoughts on this striking project: “I feel this project will still be looked at as an amazing building in a hundred year’s time.”
WAN AWARDS would like to thank the jury and congratulate all six shortlisted architects in the WAN Commercial Award 2016. The final winner of this award will be announced on 28 February 2017.