WAN Infrastructure Award 2016 Shortlist Announced

Sam Horscraft
Monday 12 Sep 2016

Six sensational projects selected for the WAN Infrastructure Award 2016

The inaugural WAN Infrastructure Award 2016 is a major international competition being part of WAN’s 'Excellence in Design' series for 2016. The award seeks to identify and reward ideas that bring elegant solutions to vital infrastructure schemes. 

A longlist of 22 projects were recently assessed by a panel of experts. The judges used their experience within the sector and considered a number of factors including originality, innovation, form, function sustainability and context to reach their shortlist.

The judging panel contained top names within the Infrastructure sector, the panel included: Huw Thomas, partner at Foster + Partners, Amit Khanna, regional director of engineering at HOK, Peter Chamley, global infrastructure practice chair at Arup, Colin Bennie, associate at John McAslan + Partners and Paul Rea, architect at Genlser.

The jury had the very difficult task of naming a shortlist of six projects from the 22 entries. After much debate and deliberation they came to a decision, with the projects showcased below in no particular order: 

Pedestrian and cycle bridges, Reykjavík, Iceland by Teiknistofan Tröð

The two new pedestrian and cycle bridges across Elliðaár estuary are an example of the present emphasis on sustainable transport in Iceland. Those who cycle or walk along the new route will experience new and interesting sights on Geirsnef, the peninsula between the two river streams.

The concept for the bridges is based on the three rules of sustainable development; ecological, social and economic sustainability. The two bridges are identical in shape but mirrored and their appearance varies from different angles. In the design process the goal was to minimize the use of material by giving the bridges a basic shape that also becomes their identity. The stable basic structural systems allows material usage and construction cost to be minimized. The bridges are designed in the shape of a tetrahedron. Three columns, one long and two shorter, connected at the top and rest on pile foundations on the river banks.

This project struck a chord with the entire judging panel, Peter was very positive about the project, commenting: “I like the form, it could have been easy to go with something quite straightforward, but the tapered cross-section adds to the design. They have clearly thought hard and designed the barrier system. The bridges stand out in the landscape, I like the way they were bold enough to put something so bright in such a varied landscape. A super solution.” Huw agreed with Peter, adding: “A sculpture which has been considered all the way through, a very nice project.”

Sound Transit University of Washington Station, Seattle, United States by LMN Architects

More than a light rail station, the Sound Transit University of Washington Station adds multiple facets to the urban fabric at the intersection of Montlake Boulevard and Pacific Street. Knitting together transportation modalities from bike to bus to pedestrians to trains, the multi-disciplinary design of the 156,000-square foot station creates a unified solution at a problematic street intersection, one of the busiest in Seattle, and provides a unique gateway to the University of Washington campus through its above and below-grade experiences.

The project includes a train platform 100 feet underground, accessed via escalators and elevators from a 2-level glass entrance structure. Along the way, users pass through a tall, vertical circulation chamber featuring Subterranean, a collaborative art installation that blends architecture and sculpture in expressing the geological layers of soil surrounding the station walls.  Peter touched on success of the deep platform and the project as a whole, saying: “The journey down to the station draws you in, despite it being so deep. It’s a very good solution. This is good piece of engineering, which works well, there were tremendous constraints that have been overcome, and it has fulfilled the brief very well.”

Agreeing with Peter’s comments about the underground aspects, Paul also mentioned the positives of the project above ground: “It’s quite an elegant project; you can see the work that has gone into responding to the historic landscape. I think the urban response is quite interesting.”

Blackburn Meadows Biomass, Sheffield, United Kingdom by BDP

Blackburn Meadows is a biomass power plant in Sheffield, adjacent to the Tinsley Viaduct and Meadowhall Shopping Centre. It is a shining example of its kind, providing a clean and sustainable source of energy whilst creating local employment and a new landmark structure for the area.

The third biomass plant in E.ON’s UK portfolio, it generates 30MW of energy by converting locally sourced recycled waste wood into electricity, powering around 40,000 homes and displacing the emissions of around 80,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Amit shared his thoughts on the sustainability of the project and the striking aesthetics: “The project is the most sustainable entry amongst this year’s entries. The project uses Bio-mass and geothermal sources for energy. And the final product is an elegant and beautiful machine. Who says Power plants can’t look good!”

The site is the former location of the Tinsley Cooling Towers, a once familiar and beloved landmark signalling a major gateway for the city. These towers, the last remaining part of the original coal fired power station on the site, had fallen into disrepair and could not be viably maintained and converted in use. Following their demolition, the biomass plant was seen as an opportunity to provide a striking new landmark in their place which would enter the public consciousness as a marker for the city and a beacon of sustainable energy production. Huw was impressed with the boldness of the project adding: “This project is different; it’s recognising that we have to do something with energy production. It’s celebrating infrastructure and I like that.”

Taumanu Reserve Bridge, Auckland, New Zealand by Isthmus Group

The coast holds a special place in the heart for New Zealanders and is a big part of our recreational lifestyle. Taumanu Reserve Bridge in Onehunga, Auckland, is a connection to a reimagined coastal landscape created after motorway development in the 1970s severed the local community from the sea. To resolve the problem of a park in two parts a bridge of sufficient form and experience was required to stitch the halves together, with a legibility that was of the park and not the motorway.

Programming for the park project as a whole was to emerge the underlying volcanic geology from the harbour in a reversal of Holocene sea level rise. As a consequence a bridge ‘of the land’ rather than the sky, connecting remnant volcanic headlands through which the motorway had cut, was felt to be a natural move. The bridge cambered form would provide a ‘reveal’ experience for sequential movement from the land to the sea and open out to dramatic views to the Manukau Harbour and heads beyond.

Colin enjoyed the story behind the project, commenting: “It’s very well done, there are lots of references there, that are very contextual. For me this project is all about place-making, people will be travelling incredibly quickly and for a moment will get an image, for that reason I think it works well.”  Paul admired the project’s ability to enhance people’s journey, commenting: “It feels like it has its own celebratory qualities. A nice project. As well as addressing the place-making aspects, it also enhances the journey of motorists, which is something that should be happening more frequently.”

#LightPathAKL, Auckland, New Zealand by Monk Mackenzie Architects

#LightPathAKL was initiated when a study identified the potential of an unused former highway offramp to be repurposed to form the western route of an inner city cycleway and complete Auckland’s inner city cycle network.  

Architecturally the project had to work simultaneously at two scales: the macro and the micro - the city and the individual. The project was also primarily conceived equally as a piece of urban art as it was urban design.

At the city scale, the project was just one strand, albeit now unused, of a larger and multiple level confluence of highways that run through Auckland. To create an impact at this wider city scale a simple yet bold strategy was employed.  The former asphalt highway was given a highly vivid and provocative pink resin and aggregate surfacing. This transformed the space from a disused highway into a highly contemporary urban space used by cyclists and pedestrians.

Paul was impressed with the idea behind the project and the bold design, stating: “A good re-purposing of a piece of infrastructure. It’s sustainable and most importantly, re-using infrastructure in new and different ways.” Colin also complimented the final design, adding: “It has a lot of confidence to it, a good use of colour. It’s honest and simple with great detail.”

Kustwerk Katwijk, Katwijk, Netherlands by Royal HaskoningDHV, ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects and Ballast Nedam

The special parking garage in the Dutch town of Katwijk is an integral part of the town’s new water defence system, protecting the town against the North Sea. The garage is situated behind a new dike and is located underneath a natural dune landscape. Integrating the parking garage with the water defence system not only protects Katwijk from the Sea, but also offers the tourists an opportunity to park directly near the beach. Huw applauded the project’s ability of being a useful infrastructure scheme, but also a place to visit, commenting: “It makes me want to go and see it. The imagery says a lot, it’s on the waterfront, against the elements, it looks incredibly robust and a fantastic place to visit.” Colin also shared his views, saying: “There is a complexity to this project which is almost hidden.  There’s a real romance to this project.”

Commissioned by the city of Katwijk, Royal HaskoningDHV drafted the architectural design of the parking garage and translated this into a thorough master plan. Based on this master plan, Ballast Nedam and ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects drafted the integral design (architectural, functional, structural and installation) for the realization of the parking garage. Special attention was given to the integration and materialisation of the entrances in the dune landscape, as one of the main principles of the architectural masterplan and the public domain, which was designed by OKRA Landscape Architects.

Congratulations to all those shortlisted and a big thank you to all those who entered into the WAN Infrastructure Award 2016. The winner, chosen from the six shortlisted projects will be announced both online and at UK Construction Week on 18, October.

Sam Horscraft

Awards Coordinator

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