Top six Adaptive Re-use schemes revealed

Monday 10 Dec 2012

Transformations of disused or outdated buildings praised by international jury

The 2012 WAN Adaptive Re-Use Awards (completed projects only) posed the judges the question of how to treat a modern intervention in a classical or dilapidated setting, whether it was a building of historical importance or an abandoned garage. Projects of varying sizes and typologies were submitted from all over the world and our esteemed panel cut the longlist of 31 down to just 6. The panel was made up of three UK-based judges and one remote judge (Rosanna Hu of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office) all of whom had clear ideas of what they considered to be projects worthy of an international prize and acclaim.

Our judges sought projects which displayed architectural sensitivity, sometimes with an ‘assertive’ response to a brief; this was more than looking for a pastiche or remake of what was once there but a scheme which was bold and contemporary. One such scheme was Behnisch Architekten’s Haus im Haus which inserted a glazed gem into Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce. ‘The contrast between the heavy masonry, steel and glass’ caught the attention of juror John Assael, of Assael Architecture, and was generally agreed to be a ‘beautiful and organised’ contemporary intervention in Hamburg’s political hub.

But it was not just clean aesthetics that won over the judges; Pauline Nee, Head of Historic Buildings at John McAslan + Partners fell for the ‘simple’ and ‘beautifully done’ Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room by Oslon Kundig Architects in Wall Walla, USA. John Assael commented on the success of the ‘industrial feel’ to the scheme, which made wine tasting more approachable to average person.

At the other end of the scale, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Las Arenas in Barcelona, Spain also made its way onto the coveted shortlist; a scheme described by Paul Williams, Founding Director of Stanton Williams as ‘fairly sexy’ which divided the judges. Was the choice to remove most of the original structure and leave only the facade the right decision or merely a ‘brave one’? To Paul Williams, it was the ‘quality and immaculate steelwork’ combined with the existing facade as a ‘brick necklace’ that made it worthy of the shortlist.

Another project which dealt with the issue of sensitivity to the original skin of a building was Maison Edouard Francois’ Fouquet’s Barriere Hotel, Paris. Described by Paul as a ‘Rachel Whiteread in reverse’ the hotel sparked another debate amongst the judges, whilst this time it was upon the nature of the pastiche and its role within adaptive re-use. The judges admired the ingenuity of the architect’s technique ‘Moulé-Troué’ (Cast and Punctured) to infill the street with existing facades and then protrude large volumes of glazing through this skin to allow light into the building.

Other strong projects within this category were musically orientated but took very different approaches to ideas of adaptive re-use. Firstly in Trondheim, Norway, Pir II AS’ scheme ‘Rockheim’ incorporated two new building elements to the existing one in rudimental box forms on top and to the side of the original form. Described by Paul as being reminiscent of an ‘Alsop,’ John admired the ‘[distinction] between the old and the new’, finding the concept ‘compelling.’

The second music-related scheme and the final entry to the shortlist was the conversion of a monastery in Normandy, France into a music school by Opus 5 Architects. Again the architects took the approach of creating an additional block to the existing structure but this time instead of overshadowing the original works the scheme was ‘secondary to monastery,’ but for John Assael remained ‘assertively modern, showing great bravery and sensitivity.’

Jade Pollard

Rockheim, Norway - Pir II AS

John Assael, Assael Architecture
-I like to distinguish between what is old and what is new, and I love the way that you can tell immediately what is old and what is new. As an idea it’s pretty compelling
-Pretty Impressive
-You can see how at night the lights transform it

Pauline Nee, John McAslan + Partners
-Exciting building

Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters, Walla Walla - Olson Kundig Architects

John Assael, Assael Architecture
- Gorgeous, modest

Paul Williams, Stanton Williams
-I love the industrial feel of it all; most wine places would be filled with mahogany and red velvet
-Great little idea
-Fantastic, I love it
- I’d like to go taste wine there

Pauline Nee, John McAslan + Partners
-Good thoughtful jobs, worthy than recognition

Haus Im Haus, Hamburg - Behnisch Architekten

John Assael, Assael Architecture
-I love it; it’s beautiful, organised
-Contrast between heavy masonry, steel and glass
-They haven’t exploited the ground floor

Paul Williams, Stanton Williams
-Lovely, really very good indeed

Pauline Nee, John McAslan + Partners
-Fantastically clever

Las Arenas, Barcelona - Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners

John Assael, Assael Architecture
-You know something exciting is going on in there
- It’s brave

Paul Williams, Stanton Williams
-The brick becomes a sort of necklace
-It looks a great scheme to me
-Fairly sexy
-Clearly the beauty of this is you lift the structure up to put the structure down

Music School Louviers, Normandy - Opus 5 Architects

John Assael, Assael Architecture
-Exquisite at night and during the day

Paul Williams, Stanton Williams
-It was worth coming in today just for this
-Absolutely exquisite
-The setting, the purity of it, the dialogue it has with you, has all the elements we’re looking for

Pauline Nee, John McAslan + Partners
-Raises the spirits
-Don’t you really feel you want to go there?
-I like the way it still has the feeling of a monastery, beautifully calm
-I like the way it’s so assertively modern, and the way it sits, it shows great bravery and sensitivity

Fouquet’s Barriere Hotel, Paris - Maison Edouard Francois

John Assael, Assael Architecture
-It gets a debate going

Paul Williams, Stanton Williams
- Rachel Whiteread in reverse

Pauline Nee, John McAslan + Partners
-It’s so clever

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