WAN Future Projects Residential Award 2015

Christina Ingram
Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

Final Six Announced

The WAN Future Projects Award is a brand new category for WAN AWARDS that celebrates the brilliance of ‘design only’ projects across six core sectors. 

This category certainly did not disappoint regarding volume of entries, diversity and inspiring architecture. Entries spanned across 15 different countries worldwide, and for the first time in WAN AWARDS history, went as far as the planet Mars!

Looking for projects that recognise vision and progressive thinking within their designs, the WAN Future Projects Residential Award 2015 certainly had the jury in thoughtful discussion on what the future holds for the term ‘Residential’, and where this area of architecture is heading.

We were honoured to have on this year’s panel: Jonathan Allan Associate of EPR Architects, Paul Vick Founder of Paul Vick Architects and Russell Pedley Director of Assael Architecture.

After great discussion, the final six were decided upon and are as follows in no particular order:

Sea Song by Form4 Architecture, USA 

The Sea Song project is to be located in the immersive natural beauty of Big Sur on the California coast. An unobtrusive design, it is private from the main road but opens outwards to the stunning natural views. 

The trio of buildings is designed to be self-sustaining, net zero energy, and aims at LEED Platinum certification. With self-cleaning glass, rainwater retention cistern, and xeriscape secure the sensible use of water sources. The landscaping is intentionally kept non-formal, to reinforce the intent that Sea Song has always belonged to its environment. Mecho-shades screen light passing through the wide expanses of glass, while the building cocoons itself against unwanted changes of the elements. Every opportunity was taken to open the sightlines to the ocean using natural lyrical forms. In entering each pavilion at midpoint, a gap gives glimpses of the vastness to expect, with an anticipation that rewards you upon entry. 

This project captivated the entire jury for its beauty, simplicity, sustainability and for selecting the perfect setting for this project to feature. The jury where in awe of this projects beauty when it was showcased. While looking over the presentation, the word used heavily and repeatedly by all judges on the panel was “beautiful”. Sea Song captured the jury for the main reason that this design blended wonderfully and complimented the stunning natural environment of Big Sur in California. With Paul saying “The aspirations on this project are fantastic.” Russell just simply stated “It’s beautiful”.

Inistanbul by Perkins + Will and Nef Realty Development, Turkey 

Located in Istanbul as a redevelopment of an industrial site, the vision of this project is to nurture the life cycle, with the master plan translating as the ‘universal path of life’.  The architecture is designed around a set of shared design elements, with common construction and materials emphasising the streamlined private spaces and maximising shared spaces. For each of the four stages, the elements are to be applied and customised to create four distinct projects to form four distinct environments. The unit designs are grounded in flexibility and maximize the space in the residential units with generous and imaginative shared spaces forming the essence of the design.  With the sharing of outdoor spaces and public plazas, the Inistanbul is designed to enhance and connect the daily lives of residents, visitors, and workers. 

Russell shared his thoughts on this project by saying, “This is a residential neighbourhood and this is something that they have thought about in the design, which is the key element of residential design.” Jonathan supported this plan by saying “I think that this project thinks of the whole picture and the journey through life. They are actually creating a sense of community where you can envisage yourself living in a place for the whole of your life. It also integrates different groups of society, creating a sense of family and community which is also expressed in the architecture. It’s almost like a small city and with this project its focus is on how we live.”

Pavilion Road by PDP London, UK 

With only four extra care schemes currently available within Knightsbridge this project was received positively by the jury members. PDP London are looking to bring a much needed extra care facility into the heart of this borough. The Pavilion Road project is set to regenerate a 1970’s Brutalist carpark with independent units that will be generously sized, catering for the needs of couples or singles, with accommodation for live-in carers while also combining this with a comprehensive range of communal facilities.

The context is a quiet residential area, which is close to shopping and public transport facilities and which will also be a short distance from London’s main hospitals. Access to the local amenities will be both a draw to residents and carers alike, providing services in a part of the Royal Borough not yet covered by existing extra care facilities.  Jonathan approved of this projects idea by stating, “It’s nice to see some extra care in Knightsbridge.” Paul reinforced this, “I really quite like this. I think this would be a good project to have done in this location.”

The concept of the façade was governed by a modern interpretation of the Queen Anne typology of the surrounding setting. The objective of this design is to open up the site by creating a courtyard that links both visually and physically. Russell expressed his interest in the project by saying, “What’s interesting is that they have looked to open the site out so you are aware of what’s happening and that’s nice. It’s the plan form that I like.”

Stadshagen by petra gipp arkitektur ab, Sweden  

Located in Stadshagen near to one of the highest points of Stockholm, a new district is looking to be built. On the edge of a steep slope, two buildings in solid wood have been designed with a floor area of 5,000 m2. The chosen material was determined by the result of the clients’ decision to only want to build in wood. Russell shared this comment, “The façade design is a reflection of the structure of the building, so it’s not trying to be anything other than timber. I like the architecture as an expression of the structure.” 

The two buildings exist on the boundary between city and nature and are clearly divided into two parts. Along the new street the buildings stand in an urban context. The buildings extend north along the steep slope into the landscape, ending up in amongst the wild nature of Sweden. Jonathan expressed, “The renders are lovely as it makes you feel like you’re going for a hike around your building almost.” Inside the buildings will be open corner apartments with the living room placed on the buildings short side where the elongated balconies are located.

The jury were enthusiastic towards this projects use of material speaking warmly of its usage. Paul said, “Wood is so readily available in Sweden. It also has a substance in terms of its life cycle and energy costs. It’s an encouraging use of wood of all the materials out there, and with it rather than just being an add-on, it’s actually been integrated with the structure of the building.” The carbon dioxide savings for Stadshagen will be approximately 5,000 tons.

Kings Cross Gasholders by WilkinsonEyre, UK

The three gasholder frames built in the 1860’s are Grade-II listed and have been a prominent landmark for Londoners and passengers arriving into King’s Cross from the north. Part of the largest regeneration scheme in Europe, the King’s Cross redevelopment has a rich industrial heritage that is integral to its renaissance. 

The design proposes three cylinders of accommodation at differing heights to suggest the movement of the original gasholders, which would have risen up or down depending on the pressure of the gas within. A fourth, virtual drum shape, located at the centre of the frames, would form an open courtyard, celebrating the meeting of the cast iron structures at their point of intersection.  

Jonathan reflected on this project positively and how the new life brought about by this design, would compliment this heritage site by saying, “I think there is a heritage point within this project and I like the way they have knitted the three structures together with the walkways. I think that this will be an incredibly dramatic space.  Its well thought out and a good response.” 

The design concept has been developed to create a dynamic counterpoint between new and old. The exterior of the accommodation volumes are planned within each of the guide frames, expressed in a veil of metal and structural elements forming operable and static panels to control the environmental conditions inside.  Paul’s comments were, “They’ve certainly got a sense of the industrial, which has gone throughout the build. I think this is really interesting. The shutters make real sense.” 

Nef New York by Nef, USA

Another design vision from the Perkins + Will and Nef Realty development team making it into the final six, Nef New York has been proposed as a new type of development tailored to meet the increasingly dense New York City urban context. This development would rise as a slender tower creating an iconic presence on the Manhattan skyline. Made up of 125 multi-family residential condominiums, with a unique configuration of amenity spaces; the tower would stand at over 60 stories. Unlike conventional New York City developments where park and amenity spaces are clustered in one area, the Perkins and Will design equally space clusters throughout the development to create five unique, but interconnected social/community blocks to foster a vertical urban community. 

Russell was immediately drawn to this design saying, “This is beautiful, I really like the use of the shared spaces within this vertical tower. The reason why I like this is that there are so many towers out there and this has thought about how it hits the ground, and how it addresses and integrates the amenity spaces. They’ve thought through on how to break it up, for me it’s about the gardens and the slenderness of the building, its very slender and very slick. This will work this building. A lot of people are drawing this idea of the garden areas, but it’s not been built and I can see this happening, it would be amazing.”

The jury agreed that there seemed to be a lean towards re-connecting and creating togetherness within a community, through design. Jonathan stated, “What I like about this project, is that the discussion we are having is on about how to live and not necessarily about architecture in itself. It’s about how these spaces are exploring the process of living, which is really very interesting.”

On top of the six shortlisted schemes, the judges also wanted to select one project in particular as ‘Commended’ as they felt this project needed to be recognised for pushing the boundaries in residential design. This project was entitled Mars Habitat by Foster and Partners, explores the idea of a design for a modular habitat on Mars. This would outline plans for a settlement constructed by an array of pre-programmed, semi-autonomous robots prior to the eventual arrival of the astronauts. Russell mentioned, “I think that there needs to be a strong debate on this topic. It’s not such a silly idea. Before we used to laugh at that, but now with the modern technologies of 3D and concrete printing we have to start somewhere with this journey. I think it would be good if everyone started to think about it.” Paul also said, “I like the fact that they take temporary architecture that we’ve seen in the past, with a Buckminster Fuller approach on how to create things that move and expand, we’ve seen theatres and other structures that expand all through the history books, so all of this is a theme. To try and apply this well, is difficult and this is a good context for it.”  

We would like to congratulate all six shortlisted and commended project designs for the WAN Future Projects Residential Award 2015. We would also like to acknowledge and say a thank you to all those who shared their visions by entering this award.

The winner of this category will be announced February 23, 2016.

Christina Ingram

Awards Coordinator

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