WAN Small Spaces Award 2015 Winners Announced

Lydia O’Callaghan
08 Mar 2016

META-Project and Map13 Barcelona are crowned joint winners

It is with great pleasure that we champion both architectual firms, META-Project and Map13 Barcelona, as the winners of the WAN Small Spaces Award 2015. META-Project came first in the permanent sub-category for their striking Water Tower Renovation project and Map13 Barcelona came first in the temporary sub-category for their impressive Brick-topia scheme.   

The winners were selected from 12 shortlisted projects that were chosen by our jury panel. This year’s panel were: James Furzer, Architect at Spatial Design Architects, Naomi Milgrom AO, Chair of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, Doan Thanh Ha, Founder of H&P Architects, and Carl Turner Founding Director of Carl Turner Architects.


Attracting wide spread attention from the public and the residences, META-Project adaptively renovated the water tower in an attempt to engage community life. Located in the campus of a rundown military factory, formerly known as the People's Liberation Army No.1102 Factory that was founded in 1959 during the Great Leap Forward. Naomi felt the scheme was: “Imaginative upscaling and reimagining of a historic structure.”

The water tower is re-interpreted and transformed into a new type of ‘public folly’ - an ambiguous built object that transcends the common usage to which it belongs, and suggests some other public purpose. On the outside it forms an attractive intervention in the urban landscape, and on the inside it offers a space for public activities for the nearby communities. James commented: “The juxtaposition between the urban exterior and the colourful internal public space is simply beautiful and engaging. The water tower has had a second breath of life, which has become a heartbeat for the local community progression.” Carl went on to say: “An interesting example of how architecture can adopt memory as a means to deliver community engagement.”

The ‘public folly’ can now house a number of activities, including: casual gathering, movies, performance and a mini-café. It invites people to engage and rethink the co-existence of history and contemporary reality. Doan concluded: “This is an interesting example of the ability to restore the likely disappeared space and usher in common space for future community from the closed past.”


Brick-topia was the winning project of a competition to build a pavilion at the International Festival of Architecture Eme3, in Barcelona. An unreinforced masonry shell made of brick using a traditional construction technique called tile vault, the scheme was the result of the combination of the latest structural analysis and form-finding computational tools with a traditional, sustainable, cheap and effective construction technique. “An interesting example of how traditional techniques can be deployed to realise challenging geometries” stated Carl. 

The shape of the pavilion is the outcome of a thorough design process optimising the structure through geometry with the software RhinoVault. James was particularly taken with this scheme, saying: “This project is a fantastic piece of architecture. The form allows the user to experience the shelter in a way that makes them think about the construction prior to their interaction. A heavy, solid material, that creates a light, soft tensile-like structure. Exploring the boundaries of brick construction superbly! A striking piece of architecture that successfully uses innovation to create something of beauty.” Naomi went on to say the project had a: “Highly expressive use of material using traditional vaulting techniques.”

The unreinforced masonry shell showed a complex geometry with a thickness ranging from 65 mm to 118 mm and it was designed to present challenging features in terms of structure and construction. Impressed with the use of material, Doan commented that this was: “A step that broadens the knowledge of use of bricks in architecture and gives inspiration to the future applications featured with brick material.”

The strong constraints on budget and time also required innovation in the construction process. The pavilion was built in three weeks and within that time a new falsework system was developed using scaffolding, cardboard, wire, and steel rods. The system allowed a quick, economic and low-tech construction available in almost any kind of context.

We’d like to take the opportunity to thank not only the jury, but all who entered their projects into the 2015 WAN Small Spaces Award. 

Lydia O’Callaghan

Awards Coordinator

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