The WAN Commercial Award 2015 celebrates pioneering projects that are purposed for business activities. Highlighting designs that push commercial architecture into new and exciting directions – whether an office, restaurant, retail outlet, hotel or shopping mall.
The 26 longlisted projects were analysed recently by a panel of expert judges who considered a number of factors: originality; innovation; form; sustainability; context - the jury looked closely at how the architects overcame key challenges in the client brief, and, how the design has pushed the boundaries for this building type.
We gathered an experienced panel who selected the stand-out commercial projects. This year’s judging panel were: John Drew, Principal at Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will, Kent Jackson, Design Director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, David Lawrence, Managing Director of Flanagan Lawrence, Brendon Moss, Project Director at Qatari Diar, Liz Peace CBE, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation and Matt Yeoman, Founding partner of BuckleyGrayYeoman.
After reviewing the variety of projects the judging panel selected a shortlist of six. These projects are highlighted below in no particular order:
Believe In Better Building in the United Kingdom by Arup Associates.
Conceived as a home for Sky’s Believe in Better schools outreach and academy training programmes, the Believe in Better Building has a clear social idea based around community focus, education, and super-flexibility. Arup Associates took the project from inception to site in three months and the project was completed in one year. The first multi-storey timber commercial office in the UK, it demonstrates the use of offsite prefabrication and timber construction to achieve a unique workplace in half the normal time-frame. John commented on the speed of completion saying: “A project of this magnitude to be designed and constructed in less than a year is quite amazing.” Flexible and inter-changeable interior spaces were a key part of the client’s brief; Brendon was impressed with this aspect of the project, stating: “A building that could be easily adapted over time.”
Lanserhof Tegernsee in Germany by ingenhoven architects.
Nestled in one of Europe's most beautiful landscapes, the Lanserhof at Lake Tegern in Southern Bavaria offers 70 rooms and suites. The Lanserhof combines luxury hotel facilities with state-of-the-art medical care under one roof. It is a health resort where guests enjoy preventative and regenerative treatments. One of the key challenges the architects faced, was ensuring the building was in-keeping with its beautiful surroundings. The judges were particularly impressed with how the hotel felt at one with the stunning landscape. Kent said: “You could immediately see yourself in this space, it embraces its beautiful surrounding landscape very well.” And John added: “I’m immediately attracted to this project”
Novo Nordisk Corporate Centre in Denmark by Henning Larsen Architects.
The medical company Novo Nordisk studies the principles of nature, using it as raw material for inspiration as well as for production, and the new headquarter reflects this. The centre’s two buildings consist of a smaller wedge-shaped building that rises up four floors and a larger building covering six floors. Its round shape and spiralling staircase are references to the helix structures of the complex insulin molecule. The smaller building mimes the shape of the three wedges that emerge from the round building, thus linking them together in material as well as in shape. David was first to comment, saying: “This project has set a high quality standard for the re-generation of the area.” Matt also gave his thoughts on why this projected has been shortlisted: “Minimal, flexible and stimulating interior spaces highlight the future of office design focusing on interaction and collaboration in the office environment.”
Bestseller Office complex, in Denmark by C.F. Møller Architects.
A second Danish project made up the shortlist with the Bestseller Office Complex designed by C.F. Moller Architects. All the judges were impressed with this office building, all stating that they would be happy to work there. The office complex comprises a varied flotilla of buildings at different levels connected by a series of outdoor spaces, e.g. courtyards, terraces and roof gardens. The mixture of office buildings and outdoor spaces creates the impression that this is a town within a town. The complex, surrounded by canals and lakes on all four sides, forms the entrance to the new, urban district on the waterfront in Aarhus, Denmark. Matt was first to share his thoughts on the project: “This is a very convincing over all composition with a civic character appropriate for its location. The shared interior and exterior spaces are well proportioned and simple. They are ideal for a variety of uses.”As well as the space, Brendon was impressed with the sustainability of the project: “An effortlessly sustainable building, which is consistent throughout.”
Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu in China by OVAL PARTNERSHIP, ELENA GALLI GIALLINI LTD and SPAWTON ARCHITECTURE
Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu is the living urban heart of future Chengdu spanning approximately 114 000sqm. Set in the context of the Buddhist Daci Temple, the low-rise retail complex provides a unique mix of shopping, dining, drinking, entertainment, live-performance, and workplace in an exciting and enjoyable setting of lanes, squares, streets and courtyards. Liz liked the traditional aspects of the project, saying: “A pleasant surprise, they resisted temptation, went against the norm and created a refreshing public space.” Interwoven into this master plan for urban regeneration is the strategic conservation and adaptive reuse of six traditional courtyards and building, and ancient lanes associated with ancient Daci Temple at the heart of the development. Kent also shared his thoughts on the project: “The retaining and conservation of buildings is a real stand-out.”
20 Fenchurch Street in United Kingdom by Rafael Vinoly Architects
The innovative concept for 20 Fenchurch Street departs from conventional architectural expression by enlarging the floor plates at the top of the building, creating additional floor area to the valuable upper stories. The building comprises thirty-two levels of Grade A office space, a double height ground-floor lobby and a three-level Sky Garden, London’s first revenue-free tall building observation deck, featuring 360-degree views of the city, landscaped gardens, an open-air terrace and two restaurants. At ground level, the slender base creates an opportunity for open landscaped plazas and pedestrian paths through the site, including a public pocket park connecting Rood Lane and Philpot Lane, a significant contribution to the urban grain of the City of London. David was the first to comment on the superb space within the upper stories: “A very innovative way of bringing public space into quite a small site is something that should be applauded.” All the judges were equally impressed with Kent adding: “A very competent building which has been done well.”
Special mention should be made to Le Meridien Zhengzhou, in China by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office which was commended by the judging panel. The 25-storey building consists of a 5-storey podium of public functions and a tower of 350 private guestrooms. For the podium, inspirations are taken from the nearby historic Longmen Caves, one of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art carved into limestone cliffs. The architectural expression of excavation and carving is most strongly experienced in the various openings surrounding the central atrium that visually connect the public spaces across multiple floors. Skylights above pierce the space with shafts of natural light that highlight the sedimentary pattern on the grey sandstone clad walls. The interiors of the building were the key feature that caught the eye of the judges, Liz said: “Stunning original interiors, good use of materials and very innovative.”
Thank you to all involved in the WAN Commercial Award 2015 and congratulations to the six finalists and one commended project within this category. An overall winner from the six shortlisted projects will be announced on 1st March 2016.