After the successful launch of the 21 FOR 21 award last year, WAN received their highest number of entrants to date in 2012. This year, 162 architectural practices entered for their chance to be part of a select group crowned to lead the next generation of designers in the 21st century. An international jury met last Tuesday to select, commend and praise a longlist of 53 practices deemed suitable contenders for the title. This longlist was carefully composed by Jury Chairman, Peter Murray and WAN’s Editor in Chief, Michael Hammond.
On the day, the international jury consisted of Patrick Schumacher, Director at Zaha Hadid Architects, Andrew Best, Director at Buro Happold, Jack Carter, Associate at Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Michael Cheetham, an architecture student from the University of Brighton. Craig Dykers, Director at Snøhetta, Reiulf Ramstad, Director at Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter and Julien De Smedt, Founder and Director of JDS Architects submitted their comments as remote judges.
The panel, led by Peter Murray, founder of New London Architecture (NLA) and Director of the London Festival of Architecture, worked together to select the practices that showed an outstanding ability to demonstrate their individual potential to be the next big thing in the architectural world. The jurors in particular were looking for architects whose directional ideas are helping to shape the future of architecture whilst keeping within the boundaries of commercial viability and sustainability.
There was an array of young, mature and unique entries that impressed the panel and Peter Murray concluded that it was ‘a very encouraging bunch, with a wide variety of approaches and it’s a great privilege to assess them in this sort of way’. After much deliberation, four practices were selected to be Commended with a further eight Highly Commended practices.
The Commended projects included Studio Egret West, supported by the panel for their ‘clearly successful’ rejuvenation project Park Hill at Sheffield, UK. Peter Murray praised their initiative for taking on master planning; he believes that there is strength behind their work. Aoc, London, was found to be ‘pragmatic, light and entertaining’ by Jack Carter and Peter Schumacher added ‘they are very interesting in the way they deal with context and reference’.
The eight Highly Commended firms exhibited a range of qualities that expressed many aspects of each practice’s individual qualities, giving us a taste to what they have to offer in the future. The following deserve special mention: nARCHITECTS delivered an ‘accomplished’ presentation and their cultural venue Forest Pavilion project won them the title of highly commended for exploring new materials successfully. Henegan Peng Architects have been Highly Commended for their sensitivity and response to their recent project proposals. Their architecture is ‘people friendly’ and with this in mind the panel agreed that this practice could make a great impact as they expand over time.
Neil M. Denari Architects portrayed their maturity in a very strong context to the New York High Line where their HL23 tower stands; this mature firm still has the potential to change and affect architecture over the next decade. Studio Weave from London produced a ‘well crafted’ submission which showcased a range of engaging projects. Serie Architects from London were described by Patrick Schumacher as ‘important’, with the architect concluding that ‘there are a lot of young architects in this profession and they are one of few that actually build work’. Encouraging words indeed! With good, consistent direction they have potential to rival winners in competitions to come.
Congratulations to all of the Commended and Highly Commended practices!
Architecture Student at the University of Brighton
nARCHITECTS, New York, United States
Serie Architects, London, United Kingdom
Christian Pottgiesser Architecturespossibles, Paris, France
Heneghan Peng Architects, Dublin, Ireland
Dekleva gregoric arhitekti, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duggan Morris Architects, London, United Kingdom
Neil M. Denari Architects, Inc, New York, United States
Studio Weave, London, United Kingdom