For the first time in WAN AWARD history, this year’s Urban Design jury sessions were held in adjoining rooms on the same day, adding to the enthusiasm and competition between our professional judges. Despite being separated by a (acoustically secure) dividing wall, both juries appeared to select their chosen winners for similar reasons - bravery in design and artistic conceptualisation.
The unbuilt jury was immediately enraptured by Code: arkitektur as’s halo-shaped viewing platform teetering on the edge of Vøringsfossen waterfalls in Eidfjord, Norway, Clive Dutton, Executive Director for Regeneration, Planning and Property at the London Borough of Newham exclaiming: “For me this is the winner - it’s the best by a country mile because it is so different and has a real wow factor to it. Not different in a crass way, but it’s imaginative.”
On the other side of the wall the completed jury was less decisive in their verdict, reducing the concise shortlist to two competing schemes. After much indecision it was concluded that Office of Architecture in Barcelona’s psychedelic Benidorm Waterfront scheme should take this year’s title with Martha Schwarz, Principal of Martha Schwartz Partners Ltd, declaring: “This is brilliant - this is one of the best things ever built - ever! In my humble opinion...”
One thing both panels could agree on was the level of bravery displayed by this year’s successful applicants. Both Code: arkitektur as and Office of Architecture in Barcelona were commended for their courageous design approaches and the governing forces in each of the building locations applauded for their open-mindedness.
Unbuilt juror Neil Porter of Gustafson Porter referred to the Norweigan Fosseslynga project as ‘an amazing piece of sculptural intrusion into the landscape, very bold and brave’. He continued: “It’s lovely to think that they are not so protective about their landscape that they can’t see something like this adding to it. I think we [in the UK] often get perhaps a bit too protective.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by the completed panel, Martha Schwarz concluding that ‘the city should be commended for taking such a risk. I mean can you imagine these guys showing up with this kind of thing?’ The concept certainly resonated with Chris Wilkinson of Wilkinson Eyre, who admitted: “I remember seeing a model of it quite a few years ago at the biennale - it looked really good but to see it built is very exciting.”
Congratulations to both winning practices!