WAN AWARDS 2013 Adaptive Reuse Shortlist

Monday 03 Mar 2014

Six repurposed projects won the jury over

The shortlist for the WAN Adaptive Reuse Awards 2013 was selected last month in an energetic jury session. The panel of judges consisted of John Assael (Assael Architecture), Harbinder Singh-Birdi (Hawkins\\Brown), Simon Gill (Simon Gill Architects) and Matthew Woodthorpe (MWAI). The selected projects all use innovative techniques in their design to create unique interventions and evocative adaptations. The projects vary not only in their scale and typology but also in their reaction to the existing fabric of their environments meaning that, as John Assael described it, ‘the projects have to be exquisite to make it into the final six’.

The session got off to a positive start with the judges selecting the Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada by Landini Associates. Of the judges, Simon Gill commented on ‘how well it’s executed’, with John Assael in agreement, stating ‘when looking at all the projects this one really shone out for me; I just thought it was tremendous’. The judges noted the attention to detail and effort put into recognising the building’s previous function as a major sporting, political and cultural event venue in its current occupancy. “It’s genuinely more like a market than a supermarket, I would rather shop there,” commented Matthew Woodthorpe.

The projects that followed onto the shortlist were the celebrated Lucky Shophouse in Singapore by Chang Architects, bringing all the jury members to a unanimous ‘yes’ in light of the way the original core and ‘bones’ of the building were retained to form part of the new space. The Lucky Shophouse was described as having ‘great integrity…the insertions are so legible, it’s very successful’ (John Assael). The architects appear to have ‘touched the building very, very gently that anyone would want to go and live there’ (Simon Gill).

Alongside these came Bridgepoint Active Healthcare in Toronto, Canada by Stantec Architecture/KPMB Architects, HDR Architecture/Diamond Schmitt Architects. This project has transformed the Don Jail to become the administrative offices of a healthcare facility, combining old and new in the finished piece and providing an excellent example of adaptive reuse on a large scale.

Next on the list was the Ditchling Museum in East Sussex, UK by Adam Richards Architects leaving the all judges momentarily speechless. It was clear that the Ditchling Museum held a united vote, with Harbinder Singh-Birdi commenting, ‘beautifully presented and it’s stunning’. The comment that followed it from Matthew Woodthorpe - ‘it’s simply fabulous’ - confirmed the judges’ undivided approval of the project for being a great example of simplistic but effective adaptive reuse. 

Following a heated discussion of the judges as they revisited their selection, the first of the final two projects that made the shortlist was the Can Ribas in Palma de Mallorca by Ferrer Fores Architects who adapted the ruins of the old town wool blanket factory into an outdoor public space to be used by all. The judges were intrigued by Can Ribas, describing it as ‘a very poetic idea, reusing a place of heritage is very beautiful,’ (Simon Gill). Again there was an agreement that ‘architecturally it is fabulous’ (Harbinder Sing-Birdi).

Finally, the Danish Maritime Museum in Helsingør by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was selected to take the last spot on the shortlist. In this project BIG converted the dry docks at the waters’ edge in Helsingør into a museum and urban space. The jury’s reaction to the Maritime Museum was similar to that of the Ditchling Museum; ‘such a cliché, that as architects, what we go for are the galleries of minimalistic houses,’ commented Matthew Woodthorpe. However the unanimous ‘definitely’ decision from all the judges confirmed its place in the shortlist, as again the project was ‘fabulous and ticks all the boxes’ (John Assael & Harbinder Singh-Birdi).

Congratulations to all those involved in these six exceptional adaptive reuse schemes! The winners will be announced in the 18 March issue of News Review.

Jessica Tang

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