The WAN Residential Awards 2012 saw entries fly in from across the globe from practices of all sizes tackling a variety of problems from difficult sites to social and affordable housing. From a longlist of 30, the jurors narrowed their selection down to 8; 2 unbuilt and 6 built projects. These 8 shortlisted schemes all pushed and redefined the boundaries of the residential typology.
The jury was composed of: Claire Bennie, Development Director at Peabody Trust; Neil Billet, Partner at Buro Happold; Jonathan Wyatt, Senior Project Director at Grosvenor; Craig Casci, Director of GRID Architects; Mikio Kurokawa, Representing Director, KISHO KUROKAWA architect & associates; and Julian Weyer, Partner at C F Moller.
In the unbuilt category BIG’s Beach and Howe Tower in Vancouver caught the judges’ eye with juror Neil Billet, Partner Buro Happold commenting that the scheme ‘dealt with the challenges of a difficult site in a new and interesting way’. The cleverly twisted sculptural form of the tower starts as a triangle on the ground plane and ends with a square floor plan on top, impressing the jurors who ultimately came to the conclusion that if this scheme would be built not only would it be a ‘rather beautiful object’, but would also provide a ‘dynamic space helping to redefine the public realm’.
Frontofficetokyo’s submission on the other hand was a less sculptural scheme yet still thought outside of the box. Literally. The HA Tower in Tokyo, Japan is comprised of a series of boxes stacked on top on one another but pulled apart to reveal communal spaces in the form of external garden terraces. Praised for being ‘different’, the judges warmed to its ‘mad’ nature.
Over in the built category there were also a few ‘mad’ schemes which caught the judges’ attention. Described as being an ‘architectural student project come to life’, TETRARC’s social housing in Nantes, France features a series of duplexes and flats with extraordinary timber access decks. Juror Clair Bennie, Development Director of the Peabody Trust, enthused that ‘this was one of the few projects that gave the sense that there is going to be a community there’, in reference to the communal spaces, the gardens and greenhouses available to all occupants.
Another project to delve into the subject of social and affordable housing was the Regent Park Apartments in Wellington, New Zealand by Designgroup Stapleton Elliot. With its ‘brave’ colour scheme and ‘admirable’ aspirations, the jurors felt it deserved a spot on the shortlist. Although not a fully resolved scheme, (‘how do you deal with the cars?’) the aspirations of the projects were considered highly commendable, as stated by remote judge Christian Schittich, Editor of DETAIL, for the architect’s attempts to ‘contribute rather turn their back on the tricky context’ and their production of ‘surprisingly good floor plans for this kind of construction’.
At the other end of the scale, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects’ submission was generally agreed to be ‘the most sophisticated’ of all the schemes. Connaught Gardens in London, UK was perceived by Craig Casci, Founding Director of GRID Architects to have provided the most ‘liveable and practical accommodation’. The judges particularly enjoyed the narrative and family hierarchy that drove the plan with its mixture of indoor and outdoor, private and public spaces, this was a house that would ‘grow with you’; Neil Billet in particular sensing he ‘could see people living and growing up here’.
Similarly the jurors felt that BONN09, Rudolphe Mertens Architects’ scheme was also worthy of making the shortlist for its ‘sympathetic use of materials’ and relaxed attitude, having already had a positive influence on a site formerly used by drug addicts.
From the practical to impractical, the jurors were united in their decision to place 5468796 Architecture Inc’s Bloc_10 as a shortlisted scheme, despite some obvious flaws. All agreed that this scheme pushed the boat out typology wise and was an ‘ambitious concept’ but the practicalities of living in a triplex was probably going to create a ‘challenging’ relationship with many neighbours instead of facilitating a community. However for Christian Schittich, Bloc_10 was ‘a modest but inventive design, which makes a surprising amount of use of a potentially banal site and brief’.
The final project to win its place amongst the shortlisted few was Elenberg Fraser’s ‘Luna’, a project bizarrely modelled after the bikini worn by Princess Leia from Star Wars. From this rather surreal concept juror Jonathan Wyatt, Senior Project Director at Grosvenor found the actual scheme to be ‘rather sexy’. With its stunning elevations and beautiful drawings it was obvious from the images provided that there was a substantial amount of care and dedication put into this project, clearly ‘someone has loved this building’.
Residential Award Shortlist
Beach and Howe, Vancouver, Canada Bjarke Ingels Group & DIALOG
Certainly worth consideration (Craig Casci)
Rather beautiful object (Claire Bennie)
Linking through the public realm (Jonathan Wyatt)
Dealing with challenges in a new and interesting way (Neil Billet)
Connaught Gardens, London, United Kingdom - Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects
Architecturally this is the most sophisticated and as practical, livable accommodation is it the best (Craig Casci)
I can see people living and growing up here. It is a house that grows with you (Neil Billet)
Regent Park Apartments for WCC City Housing, Wellington, New Zealand - Designgroup Stapleton Elliott
Quite interesting (Claire Bennie)
I like the floorplan (Craig Casci)
brave use of colour (Craig Casci)
The thought aspiration behind it is to be commended (Julian Weyer)
Luna, Melbourne, Australia - Elenberg Fraser
Beautiful drawings (Claire Bennie)
Someone has loved this building (Craig Casci)
Boreal, Nantes, France - TETRARC
This is one of the few that gave the sense that there is going to be a community there (Claire Bennie)
It’s refreshing to see someone thinking outside of the box and pushing the boundaries of affordable housing (Julian Weyer)
This is not a landscape but a garden and generating a garden and community that will be used appeals to me (Neil Billet)
HA Tower, Tokyo, Japan - frontofficetokyo
Kind of fascinating; it just feels a bit mad (Claire Bennie)
It’s different, very different (Julian Weyer)
BONN09, Luxembourg - Rodolphe Mertens Architects
It looks completely in place and yet completely different to the surroundings (Neil Billet)
Kept it very simple (Claire Bennie)
Bloc_10, Winnipeg, Canada - 5468796 Architecture
It looks very lovely (Claire Bennie)
Interesting as a typology (Craig Casci)