WAN Future Projects Commercial Award 2015

Nick Myall
10 Feb 2016

WAN AWARDS celebrate the Future of Commercial design with a final shortlist of six

The Future Projects Commercial Award 2015 launches into its first year, with an amazing line up of entries into this category from across the globe. This award celebrates creations and concepts that have pushed their typology forward within commercial design. 

From the 27 projects that were longlisted, the judges were set the task of analysing the collection of entries by considering a number of factors which included: originality; innovation; form; sustainability; and context. The jury panel who we were privileged to have on board for the undertaking of this duty were Mike Lampard, Design Director of Corstorphine + Wright, Robin Partington, Managing Partner of Robin Partington & Partners and Paul Makowicki, Principal of CallisonRTKL.

After a well conversed jury session, the jury arrived at the follow six shortlisted entries which follow in no particular order of appearance:

Avenues Mall Silicon Oasis in United Arab Emirates by DESIGN INTERNATIONAL

The Avenues Mall Silicon Oasis is set to be situated at the ‘Dubai Silicon Oasis’ site, a 7.2 km² zone located in Dubai. The unique design has been drawn from the ancient Arabian travellers who would seek refuge at an oasis when crossing the desert. The strong shapes of the façade resemble that of pebbles; something the traders would have encountered at these oases. 

The revolutionary forms of the design will contrast greatly with the surrounding desert with Avenues Mall Silicon Oasis to offer an oasis of calmness and tranquillity. The specifically designed solar shading system will provide an essential shield from the fierce sun and will not only reduce the solar heat gain but minimise the energy consumption of the cooling system. Mike commented on this saying, “In this environment setting, it’s all about getting people inside as quickly as possible to an air conditioned environment where you can relax.” Paul went on to say, “The thing that has also been picked up on by Mike is that this is an interesting mixed-use scheme, so your encouraging people to go there to shop, while also to go there for leisure and recreation activities. This combined with its sustainability elements, it does start to tick a few boxes. Whoever has been designing this has cared, and it shows that they have a team of people who are all talking to each other. It’s actually quite skilfully done.”

Azure Coast in China by RTKL Associates Inc.

Azure Coast is a tower that will stand at 400 metres high against the dramatic surroundings of the ocean close by and the Fushan Mountains as a backdrop. The concept has been conceived as a vertical city, the tower includes office, hospitality, residential, retail and dining space that would link the neighbourhoods and business districts. On the ground level, it creates pedestrian-friendly connections, facilitating flow between the public beach and the street via a new park as well as enlivening the streetscape with retail which helped to meet the client’s programming requirements. Robin said, “You’ve got a big mix of different things, you’ve got offices on two different levels, service departments, hotel and an observation deck. Then on the ground floor they seem to have some kind of ancillary use. They also appear to be trying to do everything as far as the sustainability agenda is concerned.” 

The design for this iconic, net-zero tower sets bold standards for high-rise energy efficiency and was intended as a model for the climate-conscious development in China. The tower’s shape facilitates air flow and reduces wind loads, while the serrated surface modulates wind pressure to avoid heightened acceleration, saving significantly on structural costs. Fins shade the glazing to avoid heat gain and provide surface space for integrated solar panels. 

Mike applauded this design by saying, “They’ve done an awful lot of work to get it to this stage and they have assessed this in different ways. It’s a comprehensive scheme, they’ve obviously thought long and hard about the shape of the building to minimise the effect of the wind, how it’s going to work from a sustainability point of view. It ticks a lot of the boxes and it’s a well-considered scheme.”

Lingang Science and Technology City, Phase 1 in China by Ennead Architects 

Situated in the Lingang New District of Shanghai, the Lingang Science and Technology (S&T) City is the first phase and model development of an area poised to become the Silicon Valley of China. 

The design promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation through the creation of highly connected work environments that encourage interaction and culminate in a network of scattered nodes including a central platform of shared program and technology infrastructure. The project consists of three office towers, all of which are connected by a continuous multi-storey podium. While spatially linking the towers together, the podium also combines shared programs designed for encouraging collaboration and the exchange of ideas. The programs range from common labs, research areas and maker spaces to a conference and exhibition facility as well as a large-scale auditorium. The podium forms two urban courtyards that act as arrival spaces and collectors, further reinforcing its function as an innovation hub. Robin was first to put forward his comments, “It starts to pull off one trick, it does become the clients brief and it pulls off the campus type trick. The buildings seem to successfully interconnect. So rather than look at separate entities in the landscape, the podium does connect them together. It’s created a sense of address, from a commercial perspective.”

Inspired by the structure of silicon crystals, the design of the exterior envelope is formed by a series of large-scale facets that reflect the inherent beauty of the park-like masterplan and the sea side site.  Mike commented, “I like the forms that it creates, I think it’s quite striking in terms of the way that it looks. It’s a dynamic scheme and it delivers something quite difficult in a place where there is nothing. You could imagine it being a real place. It looks like a scheme that is believable”. Paul also had to say, “This is a coherent design for a large mixed use project, it follows through on the design aesthetic (facets) from the façade through to the landscape.”

80 Atlantic in Canada by Quadrangle Architects Limited

80 Atlantic was designed specifically to take advantage of recent amendments to the Ontario Building Code, allowing for wood-frame construction of up to six storeys. With this project, the city of Toronto would see the rise of a five-storey wood office structure with an ambitious goal: to envision a new archetype for Toronto workspaces. 

Opting for wood, a renewable resource that offsets and sequesters carbon, is set to encourage others in this region to follow this more sustainable model. The client’s goal of a healthy Energy Use Intensity target was the impetus for a thorough study of the site’s microclimate and the use of sustainability modelling software from the earliest design iterations. Mike expressed, “The fact that it is saying that it can be done is a good thing. It would be good to see it go forward it’s a good looking scheme, it’s ambitious and we should recognise that. It’s a strong project. The positives for this, is it focuses around a timber frame building and that for me, is the most interesting part of this project.” Robin also backed up Mike’s views stating, “It’s interesting that they are doing a timber frame building and to have a client that supports you in doing that is quite pushy. If you’ve got a client who’s willing to support an architectural team like that, then they should get encouragement as well. You have to recognise the client’s ambition here. Credit should be given to a client that is wanting to go with a team to explore this idea. It’s a scheme that you want to see be taken to the next level.”

Oasis: Silicon Valley Technology Center in USA by Form4 Architecture

Conceived as an iconic beacon for innovation and design, Oasis: Silicon Valley Technology Center is both majestic and intimate. Sited on a tight urban parcel in Santa Clara, California, facing the Great America theme park, this 300,000 square-foot project signals the inevitable shift in higher density and transit-oriented developments surfacing in Silicon Valley. Intended as a prototype of tomorrow's workplace, this 13 stories building supported by a transparent podium includes a sequence of retail experiences activating at the street level. As the ground curls into a canopy, a spacious public cafe at the end captures the pedestrian flow. A tongue of pushed and pulled earth is pierced strategically to filter light into the parking garage below. On the 9th floor the Big Sky Garden brings people, an open-air café, and creates a grand environment giving life to this 3-story urban retreat. This aspirational grand window casts visual magnetism for miles making this a place that you want to be. 

Paul was complimentary on this scheme saying, “A strong form providing a backdrop to public spaces and iconic imagery.  It’s a creative use of the sky garden redefines the office building.” Mike also conferred stating, “It’s an interesting building, designed as a bit of a jewel, as a nice piece. The core doesn’t over dominate it, you have a reasonable entrance lobby and it’s quite sweet the way it’s been designed as an object. There are parts of this that make me think that this is going to be really nice.” Robin also agreed that the Big Sky Garden was an interesting part of this scheme saying, “Is this the future of office space in Santa Clara California? They sky garden is an amazing space.”

Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary in Australia by CHROFI McGregor+Coxall

Set within a conservation woodland setting on the outskirts of Sydney Australia, Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary is looking to pioneer a new cemetery model. The response was to create a site-wide experience with a specific focus on natural burials without headstones. The first of its kind in Australia, the memorialisation becomes the retention and protection of this unique bush ecology where GPS technology is used to locate the resting place of loved ones. Continuing this ecological response and integrated into the design, are a suite of sustainability initiatives including photovoltaic solar panels, integrated rainwater harvesting and reuse, solar hot water heating, passive cooling strategies and an on-site black water system. These initiatives create an “off the grid” facility placing it at the forefront of self-sufficiency and eco-friendly development in the Australian cemetery industry.

Mike commented, “It’s quite specific to do this kind of work. I think the simplicity of it works very well. The simplicity of it evokes a semi religious feel, without it being overtly religious. It creates a template which you can overlay your own beliefs or not. This is really orthogonal, really simple and it really works, really well. It’s just a simple expression of architecture.” Robin also added, “This looks like something where someone has really done something with the client brief. For me, given the setting, it’s not the response that I would have expected. I would have expected for somebody to try and make it disappear and do something more sensuous or sinuous and integrated with the landscape. To actually put something which is quite bold there, and deal with it like that, it’s sort of like coming across a little hidden temple which I suppose is what it is in some respects, I think that it is an interesting response.”

Congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted in the Future Projects Commercial Award 2015. A big thank you to all those involved in helping make this award a success so far. A winner will be selected from this final six shortlist and announced on February 23.

Christina Ingram

Awards Coordinator

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