Circa Architecture glides to victory

17 Jun 2011

Australian firm takes title of Hotel of the Year 2011 with mantaray-inspired Saffire Resort

Rising above a fantastically diverse range of hospitality projects, WAN is proud to announce Circa Architecture’s Saffire Resort project in Coles Bay, Tasmania as the first ever winner of the Hotel of the Year Award. It was immediately apparent to all in the judging session that the Saffire was a stand-out scheme, as each one of our jurors gave expressions of delight as this entry was unveiled.

Gently caressing the scenic landscape of Australia’s Coles Bay, Circa Architecture’s victorious submission is reminiscent of a mythical sea creature, skimming the dust and forging a memorable impression on all who behold it. Juliet Kinsman, Editor in Chief of boutique hotel website Mr and Mrs Smith was the first to engage with the winning project, stating: “I have to confess this is the one that jumped out at me the most. I found this the most exciting [in terms of] context and in terms of materials and story", as the RIBA’s Jeremy Heyes agreed: “Yes, me too. I just love the sculptural form of it...I thought this one really stands out. Look at the way it sits in the landscape, it’s just fantastic.”

As last week’s shortlist announcement mentioned, the favoured projects in this category were praised by the esteemed panel as ‘moving the typology forwards’ but it was this winning resort in particular that achieved this goal, noted Juliet Kinsman. Towards the end of the discussion the jury had narrowed it down to two potential candidates, the Saffire and the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, in the end going with Jeremy Heyes’ ‘gut reaction’ and crowning Circa Architecture the winning practice.

Just missing out on making this year’s shortlist was Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects’ Bayside Marina Hotel in Yokohama, Japan which was awarded a title of ‘Commended’ by the jury panel who were impressed by the architect’s use of space and ‘intellectual premise’ but felt that it was lacking that certain something displayed by the shortlisted candidates. HOK’s Barry Hughes considered: “It would have been great if the same level of innovation had been applied to the interiors.”

Summing up the session, we were delighted to hear Jeremy Heyes announcing: “In so many of these awards you would not find projects like these and I think that is delightful. Fantastic diversity!” Proving once again that small is also mighty, Circa Architecture’s triumph is a shining example that many of the inspiring projects we receive are from some of the world’s more modest firms. We look forward to welcoming scores more schemes of the same calibre in the 2012 cycle!

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