An outside influence

Monday 13 Feb 2012

WAN initiates Student Guest Judging Programme at 2011 Residential jury meeting

For the first time in the WAN AWARDS, there was student participation in the jury session for the 2011 Residential Sector and House of the Year Award. On Tuesday 7th February, six respected architects and developers were invited to London, along with Sruti Thakrar, a student from the University of Brighton’s Architecture Department, to reduce a superb longlist of built and unbuilt schemes to an elite shortlist and winner for the Residential projects. During the session, all the projects were discussed animatedly, yet in the decision for the shortlist, there was little disagreement over who made the grade.

The jury was seeking innovative buildings, interesting projects that would be exciting to work on or those that portray the reality of a liveable space. The criteria made the judging more challenging as the wide variety of countries featured have different lifestyles and urban challenges.

Milanofiori Residential Complex in Milan by OBR Open Building Research S.r.l. was the first to enter the shortlist. The different façades in this building managed to overwhelm the jury panel, and responses included ‘what I love about [it], is that one side doesn’t look like the other’ from Piers Gough of CZWG.

Two Chinese projects made the longlist (both by Leigh & Orange Limited) however only one pulled through to the final seven. Inspired by the Terracotta army, The Xian Lake City Residential Development was capable of providing very positive remarks by the judges, Gough confessing: “I must say I think that this is rather good, the different heights of the building, the sutbtly of it, the detailing, it’s all very complex and they seem to have pulled it off really elegently. It really is special.”

The Swedish affordable terraced housing project by White Arkiteketer AB split the judge’s opinions. Corrugated iron and asphalt are not the most attractive materials to use however the Apple Orchard in Gothenburg made it into the shortlist and actually drew some of the most appreciative comments from our panel.

Similar to the Chinese schemes, our Canadian longlisted projects were also designed by the same architects (5468796 Architecture Inc) and again only one was selected for the shortlist. Remote judge Julian Weyer wrote that the Centre Village in Winnipeg displays a ‘very clever layout’, continuing ‘it has genuinely driven by community concerns which alleviate the somewhat harsh exteriors and detailing favouring the spatial over the tactile’.

All of the judges optimistically chose the funky Estonian building by Atelier Thomas Pucher, with Gough gushing, ‘I love this, it’s having fun and enjoying being alive’ and Weyer: “It’s a very strong design, turning some very simple basic moves into an expressive piece of architecture.”

From the unbuilt projects, two were shortlisted. Beirut Observatory in Lebanon by Accent Design Group had an intriguing approach to how the floors were separated giving some double height spaces in the middle of the tower and a number of cantilevered balconies. Beirut is on a mountain and the buildings can only face towards the water, and the scheme has taken this into account with aplomb.

Finally, the last scheme on the shortlist was Norwegian Wood in Norway by AART architects. The submission was praised as the largest and most sustainable use of wood in Europe and all the judges agreed on the interesting aesthetic that the project brings to the table, that the plans are working, and that it is artful!

All the projects and participants are to be congratulated, but unfortunately, there were limited gaps on the highly-contested shortlist.


Milanofiori Residential Complex, Milan, Italy - OBR Open Building Research S.r.l.
Xian Lake City Residential Development (Lot 3), Xian, China - Leigh & Orange Limited
The Apple Orchard, Gothenburg, Sweden - White Arkitekter AB
Centre Village, Winnipeg, Canada - 5468796 Architecture Inc.
Jõekaare Residential Tower, Tartu, Estonia - Atelier Thomas Pucher
Beirut Observatory, Beirut, Lebanon - Accent Design Group
Norwegian Wood, Stavanger, Norway - AART architects

Sruti Thakrar
Student Guest Judge

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