WAN Future Project Civic Buildings Award 2015 Shortlist

Ella Pilkington
Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

Six shortlisted future projects showcasing what it means to be ‘civic’

The WAN Future Project Civic Buildings Award 2015 is a celebration of ‘design only’ projects celebrating concepts that have pushed their specific typology forward.

We were privileged to have a fantastic line up of experienced judges for this year’s award including: Andrew Costa, Director for Ryder Architecture, Ian Bogle, Director at Bogle Architects, and Marta Pozo, Director at MVRD Asia. 

The six shortlisted entries exhibited a cross section of different typologies with the jury assessing the entries on a number of factors including quality of presentation, originality, innovation, form and special quality, sustainability and context.

Whittling down the longlist of 30 to just six, our panel of experts were not shy to vocalise their opinions and select the shortlist. These are summarised below in no particular order: 

Constitution Gardens, Washington, DC United States by Rogers Partners.

Tucked away, a curvaceous, forested passive park planned in the 1970’s retains its original setting but offers new uses and events. A new pavilion operates as a tie of activity for the gardens, containing a restaurant, concessions, a wide grand stair and an outdoor lookout. The building transitions from the higher terrain of the mall down into the bowl of the gardens with a dramatic cantilever over the lake’s path. The pavilion is designed to integrate into the landscape by its modern form and ecology of contemporary tectonics. The height and planting density that surround the Gardens have been increased to enhance the parade from the city. The simplicity of the project got the judges talking: “It could be a very beautiful building. It’s very simple and its perception is really clear as a diagram. I’d like to go and visit” said Andrew. Ian agreed with this statement: “If executed, it could look pretty good”. 

Sonic Scape: The House of Hungarian Music, Budapest, Hungary by ANX / Aaron Neubert Architects.

The House of Hungarian Music will create a space of immersion in music through the influential musical history of the country, in the spirit of composers such as Bela Bartok and Zola Kodaly. HHM will serve as an open, accessible, and flexible venue bringing modern and historical traditions.

This venue serves not only as an experiential and interactive representation for music, but also as an iconic landmark open to the urban landscape of Budapest, welcoming citizens of the city and various other influences. The building’s relationship to the site is developed to encourage park activities to flow through the HHM and equally for music activities to spill into the park. Ian observed this clear scheme of integration between the building and surrounding park: “It’s interesting and it’s a civic building.” 

With the intention of creating an icon that can uniquely serve the diverse objectives and influences found within the Hungarian musical tradition and the project’s mission, the HHM offers varied and evolving facades. References such as vernacular and civic architecture, traditional Hungarian musical instruments and contemporary acoustical geometries are all evoked within the architecture. Andrew spoke about how the interior of the “could be a very interesting building, it could be good for acoustics.” Also commenting on the exterior: “it’s quite interesting, the folding planes are quite articulate”. 

GAME StreetMekka, Esbjerg, Denmark by EFFEKT Architects  

The multifunctional cultural centre is a reinterpretation of the existing structure, originally designed as a typical train engine roundhouse in the central courtyard. The centre’s distinctively raw industrial aesthetics reflect this. New halls are placed in the same geometry in a variety of outdoor and indoor spaces, each with their distinctive function, creating a coherent multifunctional street culture compound. The cultural centre is formed by the vision to make street sports accessible all year round, even in the Scandinavian climate. The unstructured character of street sports is in demand for a new type of facility. With this in mind, EFFEKT Architects propose is to transform an abandoned industrial train engine depot into a vibrant cultural and social platform. Ian started the positive comments stating: “It ticks a lot of boxes in terms of its civic use.” The enclosed street sport plaza and large outdoor social space is “a cool and dynamic space for interaction - young people will love it and come back”. Marta acknowledged, going on to say: “the change in social needs and trends which is heightened within this particular design, especially for a younger audience.” Andrew endorsed Marta’s comment, by saying: “It’s a civic building which isn’t elitist. It seems to be very inclusive of a young group.” 

The train engine roundhouse is transformed into a facility that supports and embraces the new wave of emerging unorganised street activities. The result; a synergy of vibrant street culture and preservation of authentic cultural heritage.

Istanbul Cultural Center, Istanbul, Turkey by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture  

Located in Istanbul, the initial goal of the centre, designed as an integrated group of cultural buildings, was to allow residents and visitors of Istanbul accessibility to cultural venues and an extensive range of public spaces. By placing cultural buildings, that includes an opera house, a concert hall, a theatre and a cinema, under a fully accessible landscaped walkway, which links the public square and park, visitors will walk towards an iconic open observation platform with unmatched views of the sea, the square, and the park. 

The centre’s main entrance is accessed directly from Taksim Square through a slightly sloped walkway. The opera entry and the views to the Takism plaza continue its original axial relationship with the square, while a wide stairway offers elevated views of the plaza at the opera entrance. The exhibition space is accessible from the entrance of the cultural centre and is centrally located between the concert and opera hall. Andrew identified that: “the intricacy of the building’s design is what stood out for the panel of judges because of its complexity and that it makes a very strong contribution in many levels to the community and the urban position that it’s in.” Ian supported Andrew’s comment, saying that “for a modern building in traditional surroundings, it has a very good feeling. Very interesting urban solution; incredibly challenging site; challenging building to get into the challenging site.” 

Culture House-Theatre, Bodo, Norway by Myefski Architects 

Located at the end of the inner marina, the Bodo Culture House hosts theatrical performances both inside and out. The site encourages and responds to a pedestrian approach from the harbour promenade, anchoring the southwest end of the urban cultural campus, Kulturkvartalet. Andrew noticed the practicality of the project’s position, saying: “as a place to go to, it’s pretty successful.” 

With the Glomma River surrounding the area, the design results in an iconic structure comprised of interlocking forms. The main entrance being a glass curtain that arcs like a boat’s hull. The arced layers of translucent skin reveal the life of the building between its structural ribs. As a piece of architecture, Andrew mentioned that: “it is a very muscular, strong form that grounds very well to its location.” 

To access the two theatre halls, the public climb up the grand stairs that lead to the third floor interior terraces. The main theatre hall’s seats flow downward, showcasing the stage. The smaller experimental theatre hall is strategically placed to allow its activity to be viewed from within the grand processional. 

New Taipei Museum of Art, New Taipei City, Taiwan by J. J. Pan & Partners  

The New Taipei Museum of Art weaves together art, architecture and landscape located in northern Taiwan in the most populous city, New Taipei City. Consisting of a museum, an exhibition hall and adjacent park, the project’s design concept of art-scape seeks to employ the setting of a mountain hamlet and to weave together art, architecture and landscape. In terms of massing, the project’s shifting volumes reflects the site's topography while a series of contemporary art galleries with semi-translucent façades create a landmark that hover over the landscape.

Ian commented that: “it is a very interesting version of this integrated cubic scheme.” In response about the structure of the building, Andrew went onto to say: “it could be quite additive and subtractive in a way, creating quite an interesting volume.”  He added that: “it seems to express its functionality very clearly with the enveloping building. It is doing it in an orthogonal and linear way which is clearly different to so much stylistically than we have seen before. And I find it, to some degree, so much more functional.” 

Thank you to all involved in the WAN Future Projects Civic Buildings Award 2015. From the shortlisted six an overall winner will be announced on 23rd February 2016. 

Ella Pilkington

WAN Administrator

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