WAN Small Spaces Award Shortlist

03 Mar 2015

Three weeks ago WAN hosted a jury session to decide on a shortlist for the WAN Small Spaces Award in the world’s largest architectural awards programme. This category is a new specialist category for the WAN AWARDS, which celebrates small scale architecture. Rather than large scale, generous architecture and design, the need for small and perfectly-formed spaces is becoming an economic necessity, pushing designers to go further with less.

The jury for this exciting award consisted of: Paul Nicholson, Architect and Lecturer at Chalk Architecture; Esme Fieldhouse, Writer and Architect at Studio Weave; and Chung Qing Li, Founding Director of Kreod Architecture and Julia Peyton-Jones OBE, Director of the Sepentine Galleries & Co-Director of Exhibitions & Programmes.

First to be selected for the shortlist was Bottle Sail by 1+1>2 International Architecture JSC. This Nursery house for HIV-Infected communities was designed in a simple, effective and sustainable manner, and supports local agricultural development. To build the house, about 3000 used plastic bottles were collected by the firm and local students from industrial zones and beaches. Paul Nicholson commented: “I like that this project is using the plastic bottles and reusing them in this way”. Esme Fieldhouse made some great comments for this project: “I really like the idea of it. I think that it is enough of a small space and it is also able to facilitate what is needed.”

Next up was the Hayam Sun Temple by Josh Haywood Design to be selected on the shortlist. This small pavilion is a temporary installation that was constructed at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, in August 2014. The design emerged from a study of Islamic geometry and pattern, the digitalisation of these geometries in parametric models, and the manipulation of these to generate new architectural forms. Esme Fieldhouse was taken with the design, commenting: “It feels inspired by Middle Eastern architecture,” and Paul Nicholson mentioned: “It’s not pretending to be anything else, it’s quite simple and I like it.” Chung Qing Li was impressed with the work saying “It’s great that he has gone out and brought this project to life and actually made it.”

All the judges were in agreement that the next project to make the shortlist was Redwood Visitor Centre Public toilets by Darryl Church Architecture Ltd. These toilets are an artistic and sensitive response to an area of high natural beauty. The cubicles were conceived as a cylinder of Corten steel with elements of storytelling and indigenous art. All the judges thought this project was very pleasing and Julia Peyton-Jones was the first to comment “I really like this, it’s fun and very charming”. Paul Nicholson added to this saying “I think this project has a lot of plusses to it, it’s a yes from me”.

Flanagan Lawrence were selected for the shortlist with their shelter and bandstand Acoustic Shells. This project acts as a stage and shelter for the local community in Littlehampton. Prompted by the Council's desire to reinvigorate the seaside town with its gentility of the early 20thcentury, the shells materially enhance the public open space of the adjacent greensward. Julia Peyton-Jones thought that this little project was quite impressive and commented on the location: “If you were sitting here and looking out to sea then it would be brilliant.” Esme Fieldhouse also agreed furthering the good comments “I bet the locals like this”.

A great entry from Aalto University Wood Program was selected next for the top six shortlisted projects showing their project Liina Transitional Shelter . This shelter was designed as a temporary building to be used in cold and harsh climates during crisis situations around the globe. Immediately Paul Nicholson thought this was quite interesting, especially because once each frame is tilted up and linked to the others they can be bound together using the same strap system. He stated: “This provides a solution to a massive issue, I’m really impressed”. Chung Qing Li and the rest of the judges also agreed that this project was worth a spot on the shortlist.

Last but not least H&P Architects took the last spot with their project BB Home. This bamboo house is a solution for the people in Vietnam who face the natural disasters of storm, flood, sweeping floods, landslides and drought. The users can build the house by themselves in 25 days using local materials and can be mass produced. Immediately all the judges were taken with this project not just with the information provided but the design itself. Esme Fieldhouse spoke on behalf of the jury panel saying “This is really nice and it is one step up in terms of complexity”.

Throughout the judging session we saw many dynamic and forward-thinking designs, all which were challenged by brief or budget to make this a fascinating award sector to be a part of. Architecture surrounding small spaces is always a challenge to the designer and these six projects each show fantastic examples how a small space can be achieved.

Congratulations to all of the shortlisted practices!

Francesca Maw


Other project comments:

Liina Transitional Shelter by Aalto University Wood Program - Chung Qing Li: “The experience this has given to the students is excellent”

SCADpad by Savannah College of Art and Design - Paul Nicholson: “The intention for this project is great and we need more stuff to be explored like this.”

Temple of Agape by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan, Supergrouplondon - Esme Fieldhouse: “I feel like from a space that feels very familiar it has managed to completely transform the space and I think that is quite brave especially within the context of the royal festival hall.”

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