'Icons' and hidden gems on WAN shortlist

Monday 13 Aug 2012

Balance between aesthetic beauty and engineering prowess found on inaugural WAN AWARDS 2012 Engineering Shortlist

In a dynamic jury session last week, the shortlist for the first ever WAN Engineering Awards 2012 were selected by an expert panel of engineers and architects. As the session proceeded it became clear that after much discussion from everyone, the projects selected stood out for more than a few reasons whilst fulfilling the criteria set. The select panel included Diane Metcalf of Grimshaw Architects, James O'Callaghan of Eckersley O'Callaghan, Tristram Carfrae from Arup, Barry Hughes of HOK, Paul Scott from AKT II and remote judges David Hood of Engineers Australia, Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and Ulrich Pfammatter of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. With a selection of projects varying in scale and typology, and temporary vs permanent states, the projects that made it into the shortlist were bound to vary and impress.

When looking at the projects there was a varied response which often reflected the challenge to find a balance between the design aesthetic and the engineering aspect. One of the main criteria looked for new technology integrated into the design and engineering which became a highly debated subject amongst the panel. Each profession focused on their area which proceeded into an integrated discussion about each project. The panel commented on the varying collaborations, highlighting the Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarancion in Seville as a creative example of ‘architects and engineers working really closely together on something new and different’. Though the Kroon Hall in Connecticut, USA by Arup didn't make it into the final six it has been Commended and the panel liked that it displayed ‘architects and engineers working closely together’.

With the projects being narrowed down the jury entered into a heated discussion in order to select out the final six projects. In particular the whole panel, including the remote judges, took a shine to the UK Pavilion Shanghai Expo by AKT II with comments on how the building was made to ‘look like a haze’ [Barry Hughes, HOK] and Tristram Carfrae of Arup described it as ‘the most beautiful space I've ever been in, in my life’. In contrast to this, some projects such as the ‘instant icon’, The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, had a focused discussion on the engineering aspect where there were ‘significant engineering challenges...and amazing accomplishments’. However in a stark comparison to the project in Singapore, the judges noted that the Great Falls Office Revitalization in Great Falls, USA is just one example of ‘clever efficient adaptive reuse’ where ‘doing more with less which should be applauded’.

As the discussion drew to a close it appeared that the judges all took a shine to the last project listed, the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre in Vancouver, Canada by Fast + Epp. They commented that it was the ‘first building of this aesthetic that we have seen in the competition’ and that they liked the subtleties within the whole process. The list concluded with the AAMI Park Stadium in Melbourne (Arup Aus Office) where the interest turned to the ‘varying levels of integration, which renders a more beautiful form’.

Engineering Shortlist

The Marina Bay Sands, Singapore - Arup Hong Kong Office
AAMI Park Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - Arup Australia Office
Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarancion, Seville, Spain - Arup Spanish Office
UK Pavilion Shanghai Expo, Shanghai, China - AKT II
VanDusen Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre, Vancouver, Canada - Fast + Epp
Great Falls Office Revitalization, Great Falls, USA - CTA Inc.


Kroon Hall, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Arup New York Office

Jessica Tang

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