A place in which people come together to conduct business has historically been seen as a pivotal landmark in any city. Continuing on from previous years, the 2013 WAN Commercial Award provides us with the opportunity to look at and re-discover ways in which architecture and business can be combined to result in spectacular and effective buildings.
Looking at the longlisted entries were our accomplished judges: Martyn Evans, Creative Director at Cathedral Group; Dafydd Hughes, Partner at Cushman and Wakefield; Liz Peace OBE, Chief Executive at British Property Federation; and Brendon Moss, Director at Qatari Diar.
The WAN jury met at One Alfred Place in London to debate how the longlisted designs addressed the key elements of their brief, how the architects used design to enhance the functionality of the building and how they responded to any challenges that may have arisen. The panel also questioned how each commercial entity could make a difference to the people that work in it, live near it and travel too it.
The first project to make it onto the judges’ shortlist for the 2013 WAN Commercial Award was Branched Offices in Epones, France by Projectiles. It raised lots of questions about small and large budgets and fulfilling a client brief. Kent Jackson complimented the architects on their ‘craftsmanship’. In using wood as the primary building material, these unique offices bring together elements of the outdoors, indoors.
Continuing on through Europe we found our way to Barcelona where the Encants Barcelona Market by B720 Fermin Vazquexz Arquitectos goes back to its ancient roots. The architect’s main objective was to maintain the open nature of the former outdoor market Els Encants. The jury was impressed with the unusual design and development of this market. Brendan Moss and Dafydd Hughes both commented on its ‘strong visual identity’.
The next shortlisted submission was Xi’an Jiatong-Liverpool University Administration Information Building in Suzhou, China by Aedas Limited. The design for this Administration Information Building was inspired by the famous Taihu stone unearthed in the Taihi lake area which is sometimes referred to as the scholar’s stone. The jury discussed the aesthetic components that make this building so unique; admiring the ingenuity of the design team’s technique Martyn Evans enthused, ‘the façade is beautiful’.
Galleria Katowicka in Katowice, Poland by SUD Stimulate Unique Design took the next spot. This exciting project saw a full rehabilitation of the railway station, the creation of an underground coach station. The jury discussed the way in which transport and business have collided to open up less developed areas and how the structure’s impact on the local area can have a positive effect. Liz Peace described it as a ‘thriving metropol’ and Martyn Evans praised the design as ‘brave’.
Another project which dealt with the idea of commercialism was National Australian Bank in Melbourne by Woods Bagot. The design team worked collaboratively to create a building around the aspiration of the organisation, rather than the organisation adapting constraints of the building. The jury was impressed with the sustainability focus that was implemented when designing this building. Dafydd Hughes commented on the team’s achievements at a ‘difficult site to build around’. Building in high-density areas can bring its own challenges in terms of design and function and the jury were suitably impressed with the resulting structure.
Finally Duggan Morris Architects’ 3-4 Hardwick Street refurbishment of a Georgian townhouse in London was added to the shortlist. The uniqueness of this scheme is driven by the architectural programme and appreciation of the hidden qualities of the building. Our jury thought that this project had transformed the original building into an efficient contemporary office space, combining old and new in the finished piece and providing an excellent example of refurbishment. The scheme had the jury questioning the idea of how understated the resulting property was in its transition from old to new. Martyn Evans commented that the ‘subtlety of this is beautiful’. Brendan Moss and Kent Jackson were both impressed by the ‘restraint’ shown by Duggan Morris Architects when working on this refurbishment.
Thank you for all the entries into the 2013 WAN Commercial Award and many congratulations to the shortlisted teams. We look forward to announcing the winner in the 18 March issue of News Review.
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator