Commercial shortlists unveiled

A ten-strong shortlist for the WAN AWARDS 2012 Commercial Sector Shortlist redefines the typology over and over again

by Sian 10 December 2012

WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector - Completed

Following last year’s success, a manifold of architectural practices presented their works to see who could make it onto the highly sought-after 2012 WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector shortlist. As the economy throughout the world alternates from difficulty in the Eurozone, the remaining effects of the financial crisis in the U.S. and the unforeseeable future of the economy in Asia, continuous innovation was witnessed in both public and private commercial projects around the globe. From a tower building in Azerbaijan, to a port office in Australia, a mall in Morocco and a gallery in Hong Kong, a wide selection of 29 submissions were presented on the longlist, six of which were nominated for this year’s shortlist.

Looking at those schemes were our accomplished judges. With varying architectural perspectives came Adrian Griffiths from Chapman Taylor, Teresa Borsuk from Pollard Thomas Edwards architects, Mark Swetman from Hines and a special remote judge, Donald Schmitt, Diamond and Schmitt Architects, who joined us from Canada.

Discussion raged over two commercial projects. One of these projects was Jansen Campus in Oberriet, Sweden by DAVIDE MACULLO ARCHITECTS. Being applauded by Adrian Griffiths as a ‘beautiful piece of architecture in a nice setting’, the jury concluded that it tussled to ‘talk about the context’. Similarly, Baku Flame Towers in Baku, Azerbaijan by HOK was admired by the jurors with Mark Swetman exclaiming that it is a ‘graceful proposition, aggressive, and challenging’. However with positive reflections, a decision was made that this particular project ‘struggled to see the environmental aspect’ within its context, causing both projects to fall shy of the shortlist.

One key aspect discussed throughout the jury session was the importance of ‘legibility’. Keeping in mind the importance of movement within space, the typology of commercial architecture was evaluated, looking at whether the submitted projects found innovative spatial flexibility whilst encountering a pleasant mannerism and uniqueness to its design and use of materials. As Adrian Griffiths highlighted, ‘you have to know how people move around in space. There is similar architecture all over the world, but it is how you use it and how one uses the architecture within the context’ that differentiates a successful project from another.

As all the submissions were examined, a list of shortlisted projects were compiled which not only satisfied the criteria set by the WAN AWARDS, but also emphasized an exceptional characteristic that would enhance the users experience within a scheme. The NASA Sustainability Base, Moffett Field, United States by William McDonough + Partners, impressed the judges not only for its super-sustainable capability to not need artificial lighting for 40 days in a year, but also for its ‘degree of spatial innovation’. The iCon Innovation Centre, Daventry, United Kingdom by Consarc Architects was also a hit amongst the jurors for its ‘impressive use of timber frame construction’ and effective use of reusable materials.

Adrian Griffiths had found a personal liking to Statoil Oslo Offices, Oslo, Norway, by a-lab, for its ‘clever use of site’, claiming its ‘success and cleverness is simple’. Hysan Place, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, by Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers (HK) Ltd, and 5 Merchant Square, London, United Kingdom, by mossessian & partners were also shortlisted projects, greatly appreciated by Teresa Borsuk and Mark Swetman for its appealing ‘articulation of form’ throughout its scheme. Canon Place, London, United Kingdom, was last on the shortlist, as the jurors agreed it was a ‘clever solution to overcome its constraints’. Being enticed by the exposed structure, Teresa Borsuk ended her evaluation pointing out that this is ‘what Cannon Street is all about’.

Alex Mizui

WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector (Completed) Jury Quotes

Cannon Place, London, United Kingdom - Foggo Architects

Adrian Griffith, Chapman Taylor
- This is a very commercial official building, with open space columns and inherent flexibility [in space] which can be subdivided

Teresa Borsuk, PTEa
- This building is doing so many things
- I love the fact it’s a box, with its structure on the outside
- I am very used to this building as I by it almost all the time
- This is what Cannon Street is all about

Mark Swetman, Hines
- Clever; a simple solution to overcome its constraints

Hysan Place, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong - Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers (HK) Ltd

Mark Swetman, Hines
- Interesting form, love the articulation of it
- The knitted down lower areas are amazing
- Mixed uses of such a scheme in a dense site is great
- It also has a strong sense of sustainability

NASA Sustainability Base, Moffett, United States - William McDonough & Partners

Adrian Griffith, Chapman Taylor
- This project is very commercial, simply responding to the context
- The spaces within the scheme are flexible

Mark Swetman, Hines
- The building has a merit for its flexibility (in space)

The iCon Innovation Centre, Daventry, United Kingdom - Consarc Architects

Adrian Griffith, Chapman Taylor
- Impressive use of timber frame construction

Mark Swetman, Hines
- Looks good to me, using timber frame and reusable materials

Statoil Oslo Offices, Oslo, Norway - a-lab

Adrian Griffith, Chapman Taylor
- Interesting for its limited space and use of cantilevers
- It is a clever use of site, where its success and cleverness comes from its simplicity
- You cannot argue with the functionality of the spaces

Mark Swetman, Hines
- It’s efficient

Teresa Borsuk, PTEa
- Does it represent a commercial scheme?
-It looks interesting and different

5 Merchant Square, London, United Kingdom - mossessian & partners

Mark Swetman, Hines
- Interesting as a form
- Clever, but confusing
- Floor space was well thought through

Teresa Borsuk, PTEa
- I like the form

The following projects have been longlisted for the WAN Sustainable Building of the Year Award:

Hysan Place, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Dandenong Government Services Offices, Melbourne, Australia
NASA Sustainability Base, Moffett Field, United States 
The iCon Innovation Centre, Daventry, United Kingdom

WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector - Future Schemes

For the Commercial sector of the WAN AWARDS projects were submitted that ranged from the extravagant to the sublime, all challenging and attempting to rethink and redefine the typology of the Commercial building. From offices to shopping malls around the world, a longlist of 28 was whittled down to just 4 shortlisted entries. Of the 28, these 4 were the schemes which redefined the category in which they entered, from the adaptive re-use of an American Government building to a shopping mall in the Middle East the shortlisted projects’ interpretation of the workplace or meeting places made the judges question how we should be working and spending our free time and whether we should start shopping at Tesco again!

The first scheme to attract the judges’ attention was a proposition by Sheppard Robson for the Siemens Middle East Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. The idea of the floorplate with 9 individual atria bringing light and ventilation to the office spaces attracted juror Linzi Cassels, Principal of Pringle Brandon Perkins + Will, commenting that ‘they formed neighbourhoods, breaking down the scale of the office and its floorplate’. It was this sensitive approach to dealing with office blocks with dense floorplates and harsh climate in which the building was located that drew ‘sympathy’ from juror Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the British Council for Offices.

Another scheme set in the hostile weather conditions of the Middle East was HOK’s submission; Marina Mall in Doha, Qatar. Here it wasn’t the eco-credentials which won the judges over but the sensitive forms derived from rock erosion and its ‘beautifully modelled and crafted’ forms. According to Duncan Swinhoe, Managing Director of Gensler the Marina Mall created ‘interesting spaces and lighting forms’.

Similarly, the entry from Mangera Yvars Architects to build a Tesco in Nottingham was complimented on its form and design. However the project went further, redefining what we think of as shopping, as Linzi Cassels commented, it’s ‘something more than just an inhumane box’. The practice’s decision to incorporate the history and culture of Nottingham was an elegant touch, bringing that into the storytelling of the facade. To Duncan Swinhoe, it wasn’t just a ‘departure from the bold blue box that is Tesco’s, it was ‘bringing something back to the community, providing communal spaces and art galleries for the communities there’.

The final project to win a spot on the shortlist was HKS Inc’s Future: GSA systems, a project which garnered a lot of support from the judges. Set in Los Angeles in the USA, the GSA building was a large nondescript office block about to be demolished. Instead the architects adapted the ground plane and reduced the building footprint, giving it the ‘strong transformation’ it needed. Juror Richard Kauntze found it to be ‘so important’ not just in from a design or lifestyle perspective but from an ecological standpoint: “When you look at the massive schemes coming from China and the USA, what this is trying to do, from a country that uses so much energy and wastes so much, this project feels right.”

Jade Pollard

WAN AWARDS Commercial Sector (Future Schemes) Jury Quotes

Siemens Middle East Headquarters, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E - Sheppard Robson

Linzi Cassels, Pringle Brandon Perkins + Will
-Challenge of dealing with an office with a very deep floorplate which has lead to the 9 atria solution
-Forms neighbourhoods, breaks down the scale of the office

Duncan Swinhoe, Gensler
-Something interesting about the floorplate
-Looks to challenge the established part of an office building

Richard Kauntze, British Council for Offices
-Sympathetic about this, dealing with a hostile climate

Tesco, Nottingham - Mangera Yvers Architects

Linzi Cassels, Pringle Brandon Perkins + Will
-Something a bit more than an inhumane box
- It’s giving something back to the community
-I love the narrative; I think bringing in something from the local culture/community is quite beautiful

Duncan Swinhoe, Gensler
-Sensitive drawing from the narrative of the surrounding
-Departure from the bold blue of Tesco
-Change the experience of the user
-That is definitely taking supermarkets in the right direction

Richard Kauntze, British Council for Offices
-Elegant and interesting

Marina Mall, Doha - HOK

Linzi Cassels, Pringle Brandon Perkins + Will
-Beautifully modelled and crafted

Richard Kauntze, British Council for Offices
-I quite like it

Duncan Swinhoe, Gensler
-Interesting space
-Lighting forms, quite interesting

Future: GSA, LA, USA - HKS,Inc

Linzi Cassels, Pringle Brandon Perkins + Will
-Responding to the where the future of the office needs to go
-Pushing at the boundary
-Sustainability aspect- direction we should be going in
-It enhances people’s lives, how you live and work

Richard Kauntze, British Council for Offices
-Sympathetic, trying to do the right thing
-Reuse is so important
-When you look at the massive schemes in China and the USA, what this is trying to do, from a country that still uses so much energy and wastes so much feels right

Duncan Swinhoe, Gensler
-Grown up, sophisticated
-Strong transformation
-It’s progressive
-A triumph of reinvention

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