Each of the 6 projects selected for this year's WAN Performing Spaces Award fulfilled the requirements of the brief set, met the judging criteria and had the additional special quality needed for a performance space to shine out amongst the fantastic array of projects submitted.
The judging panel consisted of industry professionals, authors and last year’s winner for this category: David Croteau of Flansburgh Architects; Editor in Chief at WAN, Michael Hammond; architect and partner at Allies and Morrison, Paul Appleton; Building and Operations Director of the Royal Albert Hall, Chris Cotton; and acoustics designer at Arup, Raj Patel.
Four of the projects viewed had an instant impact on the judges and after discussion made it through to the shortlist. After a second round of discussion and debate the final two projects were selected.
First up was TED Conference by the Rockwell Group (Vancouver, Canada). The project was praised for its use of timber and for the fact that it is a space within another space. Paul Appleton found the assembly of the space over a five day period quite impressive, noting through the detail ‘there are very little clamps, and has flitches which you would bolt through’. David Croteau particularly liked the different kinds of seating, saying ‘it’s not just simple wedges, but there is a variety of seating’.
The Shed by Haworth Tompkins (London, United Kingdom) was also well received by all the judges. Paul Appleton commented ‘it is a great addition to the area - a real draw and the people love it’. David Croteau added ‘it is a simple form and an iconic building with an elegant theatre. It makes a strong statement with so little’.
Third on the list was another project by Haworth Tompkins called Everyman Theatre (Liverpool, United Kingdom). The project came under much discussion on how it was made, but one thing that stood out was the beauty of the courtyard. Paul Appleton said, ‘I like the fact you discover this courtyard that has this exterior quality for a theatre which I find quite powerful’. He continued, ‘it really captures the spirit of the everyman’.
The Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects (Baku, Azerbaijan) was next on the shortlist. This was another project that was thoroughly discussed with Michael Hammond commenting on the elegance of the building and Paul Appleton highlighing the intelligent design. Chris Cotton commented on how ‘this composition flows like music, and the panels create a dramatic rhythm flowing in the landscape. The continual fluid geometry inside and out is quite spectacular and the design would appear to have overcome many technical concerns’.
The SFJAZZ Center by Mark Cavagnero Associates (San Francisco, United States) was the penultimate project to make the shortlist. Paul Appleton was the first to comment that it is a ‘clean and really well made building’, with David Croteau adding that it is ‘beautifully detailed’. David also commented, ‘I would never have guessed that this was a place for jazz’, while Raj Patel noted that a dedicated jazz centre was well needed in this area. He also commented that ‘the public spaces were nice to be in’.
Completing the list was Dreamtheatre Ris Orangis by Studio Andrew Todd (Paris, France). Although it was a concept project all the judges agreed that they would like to have seen the building built. Paul Appleton thought it was a nice idea that was more resolved than some of the other built projects, while David Croteau enjoyed the double skin roof concept. The fantastic circular, off grid, 300-seat theatre would be built partly on the river and partly on the bank, much as the old Elizabethan theatres were.
Congratulations go out to the six teams that made the shortlist. We would also like to thank all the practices that entered the award and the judges who were able to dedicate their time and their thorough evaluation for each project.