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Monday 23 Dec 2013

SWA Group and SOM scoop 2013 WAN Urban Design Award top spots

The WAN Urban Design Award probably throws up the biggest challenges for any jury, not least due to the variance in scale of each project. Often it is an urban regeneration scheme with an urgent social or environmental agenda. Sometimes it is a project that simply wishes to renew a city’s acquaintance with a post-industrial waterfront,  conjuring up new places where people just want to be.

The panel consisted of Gordon Affleck, Design Partner of 10 Design, Richard Brown, Director of Keith Williams Architects, Marie Burns, Director of Burns + Nice, Perry Lethlean, Director of Taylor, Cullity, Lethlean, Tim Makower, Founder of Makower Architects and Richard Meier, Partner at Argent Group.

The Urban Design 'Completed' winner is Guthrie Green Urban Park in Tulsa, United States by SWA Group which was regarded by Richard Brown as ‘a strong seed from which to grow’. The judges enjoyed the nice scale and Richard Mier noted that it ‘is innovative in what it’s trying to achieve’. The images in particular of local community using and enjoying the project also proved enjoyable for the judges. Marie Burns noted that ‘it has complexity in terms of what it’s doing socially and it endeavours economically’.

The 'Future Schemes' winner is Nanjing Xiaguan Riverfront Master Plan, Nanjing, China by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. It was felt to be a very mature response to its brief. Richard Brown stated: "The client has bought in to this far more sophisticated urban environment and I think that has to be encouraged." In particular, the jury noted that it was one of the few projects in China where there was a clear attempt to reference the past and retain older buildings into the urban grain.

There were two Commended projects. Firstly, The Vancouver Olympic Village by GBL Architects Inc. was a 'Completed' project that presented very unique challenges as an Olympic legacy. The judges commended this scheme from the perspective of reuse and creating a neighbourhood in a ‘positive thoughtful manner’.

For 'Future Schemes', Place Lalla Yeddouna in Fez, Morocco by mossessian & partners also received a commendation for addressing a wide range of issues from addressing the cultural, tourism and heritage issues that a World Heritage Site brings whilst also being a place where people live and work. Material selection was also critical for a site with seismic activity and the end result was regarded as very nice and restrained architecture. 

We wish to extend our heartiest congratulations to the winners and our gratitude to all those that entered, making the WAN Urban Design Award a challenge to savour. Richard Brown stated at the end: "There’s quite a disparity between the sophistication of some the schemes so one of the things we’ve tried to acknowledge where there’s been a deeper understanding of the locality and the challenges within that particular environment."

Urban design is always working to some sort of legacy, be it Industrial, Heritage or even Olympic and this year’s winners were definitely about taking the past to future generations.

Jim Davis
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

Key Facts:

Urban design

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