'No compromise on design'

Monday 16 Dec 2013

Six green schemes shortlisted for WAN Sustainable Building of the Year Award 2013

With 33 longlisted entries in this years’ Sustainable Building of the Year Award, the task of selecting a shortlist was never going to be an easy one. Projects came in from a wide range of firms from across the world, featuring an interesting spectrum of sustainability solutions: from hospitals and universities, to homes and historic landmarks, we have the pleasure of announcing the six projects that were selected as the final shortlist, and a huge congratulations to all.

Joining us in London to formulate the judging panel were: Ann-Marie Aguilar, Associate Director of Arup Associates and a sustainability design specialist; Mikael Stenqvist, Partner and Senior Architect at White Arkitekter; and Cees van der Spek, Director of Sustainability at OVG Real Estate, a European market leader in sustainable real estate development and investment. Our remote jury was formed of Huib van Zeijl, co-founder of Equipe in Amsterdam (NL), and Mark Reddington, Design Partner at LMN Architects in Seattle.

The first project to be selected for the shortlist was the impressive Zero Carbon Building (Hong Kong) designed by Ronald Lu and Partners. The project was quickly selected as a candidate for the final six and noted as being 'committed to onsite renewable energy, giving a very generous contribution' by Aguilar. But what truly stood out for the panel was that 'this is really an education centre for everybody to learn something about sustainable design' (van Zeijl). The judges agreed that this was more than just a building for a building’s sake, and the community would be the main beneficiaries in the end - a clear candidate for the shortlist.

Next to be singled out for the shortlist was the Bullitt Center (Seattle, US) from the Miller Hull Partnership. The impressive approach to tackling the Living Building Challenge was what drew our panel to the conclusion that 'the extensive research on systems and materials, as well as research on their secondary impacts lead to a careful, comprehensive, data driven design' (Reddington). The overall feeling after considering this project was that it was a template for the future and our judges hope to see more projects emerging in cities similar to this one. A great example for the future of sustainable buildings within cities.

The Knowledge Centre (Trondheim, Norway) from Ratio Arkitekter and the Nordic Office of Architecture was next to the shortlist. The inspiring design of the hospital's passive facade was the initial draw for the jury, leading on to the stunning interior design and use of materials, namely the wooden structural feature in the auditorium. This project really highlighted how there can be energy savings in even the most energy-intensive sector - healthcare. Our panel thought that this was a great example of how careful design integration with sustainable techniques can lead to beautiful results and were happy to place this in the shortlist early on.

Next to be decided upon was 1 Bligh (Sydney, Australia) designed by Ingehoven Architects + Architectus - the first ‘double skinned’ tower to be built in the southern hemisphere. The 'strong, beautifully executed design concept' (Reddington) won over the panel quickly. The aggressive sustainability effort works to make this stunning high rise tower in Sydney a rare accomplishment among the sustainable buildings of its type, and one we hope to see much more of. Bringing a great deal of natural light to working spaces and integrating successfully in the urban context, the project really stands out in the crowd.

The penultimate project to be selected for the shortlisted entries is the Umeå School of Architecture (Umeå, Sweden) from Henning Larsen Architects. Initially singled out as a great accomplishment in terms of interior space design and cohesion with the exterior, van Zeijl noted: “It’s an intelligent design; you can really see how the building is put together. It’s really a beautiful space without compromising the sustainability of the project.” The simple design solutions, such as geographical positioning, that played a big part in making the building as efficient as it could be, were considered great alternatives to some of the often selected high-tech solutions. 

And finally, the sixth position on the shortlist was awarded to the Sheik Zayed Desert Learning Centre (Al Ain, United Arab Emirates) by Chalabi Architects and Partners. The initial impressions were of a snake skin-like aesthetic, and authentic looking desert building. Upon further investigation the result is a building that is designed up to the 21st-century sustainability standards. Some of the highlights of this project were 'the really well thought-out material selection' (van der Spek) and the 'authentic design' (van Zeijl) but what really stood out in the end was the overall simplistic incorporation of ancient techniques and authentic design to make this a truly sustainable building. A great solution to the problem of sustainability in the harsh landscape of this area.

There was one additional project that did not make it onto the shortlist but certainly deserves a special mention, and was given the certification of Highly Commended by the panel. That project was the US Land Port of Entry (Maine, US) by Julie Snow Architects, Inc. and Robert Siegel Architects. A stunning scheme that sparked the interest of the judges: “You don’t really see architecture like this (in public buildings) with this type of function. It’s really cleverly done and the facade is really beautiful.”

We’d like to congratulate all six shortlisted entries and the highly commended entry for such innovative projects that were beautifully presented. They made for a very insightful and interesting jury session!

Faye Chalmers
Awards Coordinator

Sustainable Building of the Year Award

Zero Carbon Building, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong - Ronald Lu and Partners

Ann-Marie Aguilar
“Committed to onsite renewable energy, giving a very generous contribution”

Huib van Zeijl
“This is really an education centre for everybody to learn something about sustainable design”

Mikael Stenqvist
“It’s embracing the community by educating the community”

Mark Reddington
“This is a demonstration project that is very important. A high amount of climate impact in Hong Kong and surrounding areas comes from buildings. This is an opportunity for big impact in the building industry and general public understanding and desire for sustainable living”

The Bullitt Center, Seattle, US - The Miller Hull Partnership

Mark Reddington
“The extensive research on systems and materials, as well as research on their secondary impacts lead to a careful, comprehensive, data driven design”

Ann-Marie Aguilar
“When people endeavour to go down the road of the living building challenge, its real commitment considering the red list”

The Knowledge Centre, Trondheim, Norway - Ratio Arkitekter and the Nordic Office of Architecture

Mikael Stenqvist
“I love the construction of the wooden facade and the interiors…it’s beautiful!”

1 Bligh, Sydney Australia - Ingehoven Architects

Mark Reddington
“A strong, beautifully executed design concept”

Cees van der Spek
“The first double skin in this part of the world, its real high tech sustainable building”

Ann-Marie Aguilar
“You can really tell that for an office tower it’s really working every angle. Building upon a 5 star energy rating is impressive”

Huib van Zeijl
“This stands out as a cleverly executed design”

Umea School of Architecture, Sweden - Henning Larsen Architects

Huib van Zeijl
“It’s an intelligent design, you can really see how the building is put together, it’s really a beautiful space without compromising the sustainability of the project”

Ann-Marie Aguilar
“No compromise on design”

Cees van der Spek
“Schools are normally designed to be open, and this school is even more open, it’s not an easy task”

Sheik Zayed Desert Learning Centre, Al Ain, UAE - Chalabi Architects and Partners

Cees van der Spek
“There is a really well thought-out approach to material selection here”

Huib van Zeijl
“Authentic design”

Ann-Marie Aguilar
“It’s interesting that they have used historic techniques to combat climate issues.”

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