'What is the learning experience?'

22 Apr 2013

8 exceptional projects make it to the finals of the 2013 WAN AWARDS Education Sector

For this year’s 2013 WAN AWARDS Education sector, the jurors were faced with a broad range of submissions, ranging from a modular kindergarten design in Slovenia right through to a multi-million pound public school in West London.

The judging panel was looking for a forward-thinking shortlist with inventive architecture which played on the idea of an educational system that could excite those within it. Deborah Saunt, DSDH set the tone by stating: “The criteria we are trying to address is what is the learning experience? And are the designs innovative”. A building which not only has architectural rigour and detail but entices education.

After a morning of long discussions and careful decision making, the 6 entries for the shortlist were decided upon. The University of Exeter Forum, England, which created a landscape and communal area in an interstitial space. The judges commended the 'sensitive landscaping' by Hargreaves Associates.

The Conventry University Faculty building, England excited the judges with a variety of learning spaces and intricate atrium, with Stefan Jakobek (Head of HOK’s educational sector) stating that the project is 'an exciting place for students to study engineering; an inspirational space'.

Emmanuel College Library, Cambridge University, England by Kilburn Nightingale was third to make the shortlist. The retrofit design cleverly wraps the exterior of the ­existing building while blending in the new extension into the site. The design is thorough and 'tailored to create an inspiring learning space'.

The Braancamp Freire Secondary School, Lisbon, Portugal by CVDB sparked an energetic response from the jurors debating between innovative design on a remarkably low budget and the quality of the learning experience. With Richard Hyams (Astudio director) stating that he 'would love to see schools like this popping up around England'.

Uninversidade Agostinho Neto, Angola was praised by Stefan Jakobek (HOK) as being 'a simple, well executed project in a difficult building environment'.  

CSU School of Dentistry, Wagga Wagga campus, Australia by Brewster Hjorth Architects was a modest design with a strong connection to the site. 'A tasteful response to the site' impressed Peter Barrett, Professor at Salford University. The project created a sense of locality and identity by using local materials and 'translating the surrounding typography into the architecture' [Javier Quintana, Dean of IE school of Architecture and Design, Spain]. The circulation and learning spaces were thought to have created a fascinating place to learn.

Throughout the course of the judging session we saw many dynamic and forward-thinking designs, all which were challenged by brief or budget to make this a fascinating award sector to be a part of. Architecture surrounding learning environments is always a challenge to the designer and these 6 projects each show a different approach to captivating students' imagination.

Congratulations to all of the shortlisted practices!

Jack Idle

Shortlisted projects

Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom - Coventry University & Arup Associates
Universidade Agostinho Neto, Luanda, Angola - Perkins+Will
Braancamp Freire Secondary School, Lisbon, Portugal - CVDB arquitectos
University of the Fraser Valley, Canada Education Park Phase II, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada - Stantec Architecture Ltd.
Emmanuel College Library, Cambridge, United Kingdom - Kilburn Nightingale
CSU School of Dentistry, Wagga Wagga Campus, Wagga Wagga, Regional NSW, Australia - Brewster Hjorth Architects
The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, Doha, Qatar - Mangera Yvars Architects
Chameleon: Flexible Kindergarten, Ljubljana, Slovenia - MODULAR architects Llc.

Key Facts


Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team