As we near the end of this year’s cycle of sector awards it is becoming clear that the spectrum of entries in the WAN AWARDS are reflecting the general state of the architectural world. The Education sector saw a marked increase in entries (20%) whereas the Commercial sector reduced by a similar amount. Understandably the deficit in Commercial entries was mainly in the ‘unbuilt’ category.
The Residential sector is expected to show a significant fall when it closes for entries at the end of the year. This was not much of a surprise as Education had become a relative safe haven and somewhat balanced the desperate Residential and Commercial markets.
Another trend that proved true to the tough economic times was the increased number of commercial projects featuring re-use of existing structures. Woodhead’s conversion of a multi storey car park to office space in Perth seemed to capture the moment perfectly.
The WAN juries are usually at pains to judge small projects equally alongside larger ones and this is evidenced by many of the winners being small or very small designs. However this year in the Commercial ‘built’ category, ingenhoven architects’ European Investment Bank HQ quickly won the hearts and minds of the panellists.
Miguel Ruano, UIA representative said that, "The huge variety of projects, sizes, complexities, problems with locations and the wide array of things to look at has been hard work for the five jurors and the chairman of the jury but we came to general consensus."
Two projects in the completed category had striking facades, Hassell’s Alibaba Headquarters, Hangzhou, China and fitzpatrick+partners' One Shelley Street in Sydney. The jury spent some time deliberating over the details, finally coming to the conclusion that in general it was desirable that the façade formed an integral part of the structure which could reduce the requirement for internal support and provide a solution with greater integrity.
Judge Diane Metcalfe of Grimshaw said: "The diversity of developments submitted for the Commercial awards this year was remarkable. Submitted projects ranged in scale from the intimate to the megastructure and from community driven projects embracing traditional patterns of inhabitation, to those pushing our concept of a commercial building to the limit.
The winning project provided an efficient and developer-friendly floor plan within a ground breaking envelope - a genuine integration of commercial and environmental concerns which sets a clear and sustainable precedent for Office Architecture in the 21st Century."
Judge Ximo Peris from sponsor Crystal CG said of the winner, European Investment Bank HQ: “From the first image the building stands out as a winner. As you find out more it never fails to deliver; always exciting, clever and well balanced. There is confidence in the big gestures and care in the small details.”
Moving on to the ‘unbuilt’ category, the decision was much harder with a diverse range of projects finding their way to the shortlist. Joost Moolhuijzen from Renzo Piano summed up the mood of the room: "For me the most interesting aspect was the international character of the competition. I was surprised that we could actually compare these very different projects in very different countries and locations. There is still a red line of what you feel as ‘good design’ through this diversity."
Barry Hughes, HOK Vice President confirmed the difficult decision, there was an ‘interesting level of quality across the board,’ adding that there were a 'lot of really good solutions to difficult problems which is how I think we got to the winner'.
The concept for the HKS Cliff_hanger Hotel caused some heated discussions about its practicality but eventually all agreed that should stay on the shortlist for its brave an innovative approach to utilising unused space and hoped that it would be developed further.
Samoo’s huge and complex scheme for the Garak Market Redevelopment in Seoul was thought- and discussion-provoking but in the end, the proposed KEPCO Headquarters by Haeahn Architecture + H Associates was selected as winner (in spite of the apparently token windpower units) for its holistic and enthusiastic adoption of eco-credentials in its design. It was felt this was particularly symbolic as the client was Korea’s foremost electric power company. The jury's view was nicely summed up by Barry Hughes: “We liked the idea than an energy company had really grabbed hold of the sustainable agenda.”
WAN and the judges would like to congratulate all the participants for some amazing and thought-provoking architecture and especially the winners, Ingenhoven architects and Haeahn Architecture + H Associates, with many thanks to sponsors Crystal CG. Well done!
Editor in Chief