Concrete in Architecture Award 2016 winners announced

19 Oct 2016

Menis Arquitectos, SLP and Fernanda Canales are crowned joint winners

We are delighted to announce that Menis Arquitectos, SLP’s striking CKK "Jordanki" and Fernanda Canales’ sustainable Salas de lectura were named joint winners of the WAN Concrete in Architecture Award 2016

The winners were selected from a shortlist of six projects and could not be separated by our expert jury panel.  This year’s panel were: Chiaki Arai, Founder of Chiaki Arai Urban & Architecture Design, Jason Parker, Partner at Make Architects, Elaine Toogood, Senior Architect at The Concrete Centre and Simon Anson, Architect and Associate at Arup.

Once the jury had selected the six shortlisted projects it became very apparent that more than one winner would be named. The projects have very different qualities, but are both fine examples of fantastic use of concrete in architecture. 

CKK "Jordanki" in Poland by Menis Arquitectos, SLP.

The CKK “JORDANKI” is set on a green ring that surrounds the centre of this Polish town, bordering the city’s new development. The initial conception as per the client’s brief, exclusively focused on a concert hall but later turned out to be a space housing different kinds of music. The project’s design took four years and its construction lasted for about two and a half years (from May 2013 to December 2015). 

Red brick marks its presence on the interior of the building, crashed and melted into concrete. The building’s use of material is a reinterpretation of the traditional use of brick. “Picado”, a research and construction innovative technique firstly used by Menis at the Magma Art & Congress (Tenerife, 2005), consists of mixing concrete with other materials, breaking it afterwards and is used in the entire building. Elaine expressed a strong interest in the use of the Picado technique, commenting: “In terms of exploring concrete this project shows a real understanding and expression of exploring concrete in a new form.” Chiaki was also impressed with the use of materials, saying: “The architecture has dramatic spaces within the simple plan. It shows the possibility of various use of concrete and creates some kind of a story.” With Jason agreeing: “I like how the architecture and the use of materials tells a story.”

Salas de lectura in Mexico by Fernanda Canales.

The Salas de lectura occupies the same amount of space than a parking spot for a car: 2.5 x 5.0 meters. It is designed to be built by community members in almost any residual space of a low cost housing project that in Mexico always lack collective services and cultural facilities. This basic independent module is a cube made of concrete, and can house a reading area and a place of gathering. This prototype can grow combining it with other modules, thereby fostering the appropriation of the exterior space.

The design originated out of the concept of transparency, allowing two main contributions: safe public space, with views onto the surroundings, but also a space sheltered from the weather and always visible from the exterior. Even at night, when it is closed, the module serves as a lamp, exhibiting what is happening on the inside.

The panel discussed many of the project’s positive elements, but its response to the community struck a chord with the judges, with Simon saying: “It’s so simple, but at the same time really understanding of how people would use it, and really understanding of the context. The simplicity with the use of materials is a real plus.”  

15 prototypes have been built during the last year in 15 states in Mexico (Oaxaca, Puebla, Nayarit...) and they have really changed the life of the communities. The success of the project impressed Jason: “It’s great; you can really imagine community engagement.”

Elaine summarised the panel’s decision to name Salas de lectura as their joint winner, saying: “There’s humility in a way, but it’s very clever. I think it’s a really sensitive and well-designed piece of architecture.”

The joint winners were recently announced at UK Construction Week. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank not only the jury, but all who entered their projects into this years’ WAN Concrete in Architecture Award. 

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