London gains a shot of colour

Tuesday 13 Dec 2011

Jurors gather in London to select inaugural WAN AWARDS Colour shortlist

This is the first year that WAN has run a Colour in Architecture Award and over the last few months, visuals of vibrantly-hued structures have been pouring onto the WAN AWARDS desk. From jewel-toned kindergartens to dusky residential communities, the entrants to this inaugural award have both surprised and delighted the WAN team.

While there are a small number of specific awards recognising the integration of colour into an architectural composition, very few - if any - consider the use of differing hues across a range of geographical locations and sectors, materials and textures. This is where we look to fill the gap, by rewarding those who have introduced colour in innovative ways to the betterment of a building's users and the built environment.

On Thursday last week our varied panel of judges met to select their favoured few from the colourful table. The experts were sourced from all areas of the industry, including Jonathan Falkingham from creative developers Urban Splash, experienced colour consultant Frances Tobin, Paul Monaghan of AHMM and remote judges Emmanuelle Moureaux, Director of Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design, and the revered architect and painter Michael Graves.

Even our expert jurors found this session a challenge, with eight favourite projects selected and only six places open on the shortlist. As such, two high quality projects have been commended - Odile Decq Benoît Cornette Architects and Planners’ Garnier Opera, and Bournemouth Council’s Beach Huts. The jurors felt that the former was an exquisite piece of work ‘but it could be a different colour and still be fabulous’, explains Frances Tobin.

The latter was commended for its subtle use of the spectrum, as Paul Monaghan details: “It’s a sophisticated selection of colours because it looks easy but it’s hard to do that. It’s pretty on a really simple level, which is a real skill.” This project very narrowly missed out on the shortlist following a debate between our decision makers on its architectural angle, but all agreed they found the use of colour ‘delightful’.

The shortlisted six showcases a stunningly inventive use of hues across a range of sectors. Certain projects may be familiar to some - dRMM’s Clapham Manor Primary School having been shortlisted for last year’s Stirling Prize - yet others are finally getting the recognition they deserve, such as Arhitektura Jure Kotnik+Riko Hiše d.o.o’s Kindergarten Kekec in Ljubljana, and Elenberg Fraser’s A’Beckett Tower in Melbourne.

Paul Monaghan was inspired by the specific selection of tones in the Kindergarten Kekec, commenting: “You can use it and play with it…it’s quite an original one. They aren’t just putting in primary colours, they’ve invented games with it - and it’s a very modest project.”

Congratulations to all our colourful commended and shortlisted firms!


Garnier Opera's restaurant, Paris, France - Odile Decq Benoît Cornette Architects and Planners
Bournemouth: Sunrise to Sunset beach huts, Bournemouth, United Kingdom - Bournemouth Council


New Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom - Hawkins/Brown
Kindergarten Kekec, Ljubljana, Slovenia - Arhitektura Jure Kotnik+Riko Hiše d.o.o
A'Beckett Tower, Melbourne, Australia - Elenberg Fraser
Clapham Manor Primary School, London, United Kingdom - dRMM Architects
Hillside Research Campus, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States - Centerbrook Architects and Planners
La Cite Des Affaires, Saint-Etienne, France - MANUELLE GAUTRAND ARCHITECTURE

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