The WAN Residential Award 2016, now in its eighth year, is a major international competition and one of most significant categories showcasing innovation and originality in this critical sector.
An increasing population creates a growing need for elegant yet enduring ideas for high-density housing. The award focuses on the best examples of recent multi-occupancy residential builds, from apartment blocks to University campuses.
This year’s respected jury panel were: Julian Anderson, Studio Director at Bates Smart, Jo McCafferty, Director at Levitt Bernstein, Brendon Moss, Project Director at Qatari Diar and Adam Tither, Director at EPR Architects.
The jury were impressed with the high standard of all of this year’s entries and had the difficult task of selecting a shortlist. However, after much discussion, the jury agreed on a shortlist of six, listed below in no particular order:
Hasu Haus in Bangkok, Thailand by Somdoon Architects Ltd
The design of Hasu Haus was aimed at reinterpreting the old way of living with waterways, in context of a modern life style which has to deal with more density. The site is outside the city centre of Bangkok, where new developments are growing fast. Three of the sides are abutted by a house and future developments. The other side faces Prakanhong canal and an old Buddhist temple across.
Commenting on the form of the building Julian said: “Two ‘L’ shaped buildings with extensively landscaped internal courtyards represents a successful interpretation of the traditional Thai ‘pa-kon’ pattern. Further the lifting of the buildings up off the ground floor is similar in manner to the raising of the traditional Thai house on stilts and is successful in that regard.”
Jo particularly enjoyed the simplicity of the project, commenting: “It’s very elegant and subtle isn’t it, just in terms of changing the module as well, the different elevations. It’s very rigorous, it’s very efficient with these little moments of ‘openess’.”
Finally, Brendon was very impressed with the project and enjoyed the views it created, going on to say: “I’d give it a ‘yes’. The ground plain here, there’s a real generosity it raises things off the ground and there’s fantastic views throughout. I like the use of water as well which again I think fits nicely within the context of its surround, with the water internally etc.”
Studios 18 in Rajasthan, India by Sanjay Puri Architects
Situated on an undulating site in the deserts of Ras, Rajasthan, India, Studios 18 apartments are a part of an entire layout spread over 36 acres. With no buildings or development in the vicinity, this layout is being created for the working people of a new cement manufacturing plant that has commenced production nearby. Close to the site there is no existing development and there are four villages at a distance of 1km from the site.
Julian was particularly interested with the sustainable features of the building: “It minimizes the use of air conditioning through the provision of courtyards which draw hot air up and out via the stack effect. High thermal mass contributes to keeping temperatures down.”
While Jo wanted so see how the building lasted the test of time: “It would be lovely to see this place in 10 years’ time, when these corridors have pots and plants hanging and it has been inhabited by the people living there. I think on its own terms it’s very clever.”
Adam liked the understated feel of the structure: “It seems to be very modest, but the whole story of it it’s definitely commendable. There’s so many sound principals of this which seems to be really thought through. It’s reflecting the colours of the local area and it’s very vibrant.”
While Brendon agreed with Adam’s message on modesty: “If you’re thinking cement workers in Rajasthan, you would probably think modest is appropriate. And looking at the detailing it would be very easy to do this a lot cheaper if it were a complex that they didn’t care about, but there is an attention to detail here.”
The Cube in Beruit, Lebanon by Orange Architects
The distinctive residential tower The Cube is located on a prominently visible location on Plot 941 in Sin el Fil, an eastern part of Beirut, Lebanon. Minutes from Emile Lahoud highway, The Cube is erected in the vital Metropolitan Hotel district in Horch Tabet, soaring a maximum of 56.6m above the earth on a steep parcel. The parcel, measuring around 30 by 40m, with a height difference of approximately 20m, slopes down from the North East to the South West.
When referring to the internal spaces Adam commented: “I think that space is extraordinary. That’s exciting. Personally for me this is a yes, just through its innovation.” Brendon agreed with Adam about the context of the building: “It doesn’t look out of place there. When you think about other buildings that are rotating and why they are just rotating, for the sake of it, with this there is a reason for it.”
Commenting on the building’s context with the other jury members Jo noted that: “It’s a very constrained plot as well in terms of the footprint isn’t it.”
Patch 22 in Amsterdam, Netherlands by FRANTZEN et al.
PATCH22, is a 30m tall high-rise in wood, was one of the successful plans in the Buiksloterham Sustainability Tender in 2009. The initiators, the architect Tom Frantzen and building-manager Claus Oussoren, wanted to achieve independently what they had never been able to manage when working on commissions for their previous clients: an outsized wooden building with a great degree of flexibility, striking architecture and a high level of sustainability, not because that was what was required but because that is what ought to be done.
The unique functionality of the project appealed to Julian: “A clever, highly flexible office and residential project which has greatly benefited from having the architect as developer/client. The stacked villas allow the owners to adapt the fit out to suit their needs.”
Jo’s final comments showed she was clearly impressed: “I think this project is really, really clever. Just in terms of flexibility from office to residential and that idea is carried through to the detail. It’s sort of ‘out there’ in terms of kick-starting a regeneration in an area where no-ones living and thinking in terms of intelligently how you might do that. I think the construction method is clever and timely in terms of speed of construction. I think the interior spaces are really good and you can sort of feel how that might develop in five or ten years’ time as a really lovely neighbourhood of offices, ateliers and bright young things living in that new area. I think it’s really clever.”
Brendon went on to support Jo’s comments: “Again, the double-height space at the ground is very interesting and I’m not quite sure what they’re using it for, but I can imagine that it would really create a lot of activity around the area, either for residential or for commercial. I like the kind of sustainable permanence of the winter garden, heat recovery that you can open this up and it can evolve between the summer and the winter. I like that it has a very generous space inside as well, very high floor to ceiling you could create some really dramatic apartments or offices.”
35XV in New York, United States by FXFOWLE
A rare mid-block design opportunity engendered the creation of this unique Manhattan mid-rise. Employing dramatic cantilevers and an expressive, textured façade, 35XV exemplifies a truly unprecedented living environment.
The tower is anchored by a six-story granite-clad base – an expansion of the adjacent Xavier High School – that extends the scale and materiality of the street-level context. Emerging from the base is a 19-story sculptural, angled glass volume that contains the residential space.
Adam was impressed by the interpretation of the setting: “This specific response could not be anywhere else, even in the city. Everything about this is so bespoke to this site in terms of maximising its potential, it is extraordinary even from a structural engineering perspective there’s some extraordinary things going on here, from a conceptual basis - deciding you’re going to build over a school – is quite amazing, they really have thought this through.”
Jo summed up by saying: “I think my breath has been taken slightly aback with this project. It’s sort of extraordinary on lots of different levels. I think the idea of integrating a school into a residential building in this setting is quite ground-breaking.”
Ruskin Square in Croydon, UK by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Ruskin Square presents a distinctive new form within Croydon’s skyline: a robust ‘L-shaped’ brick-gridded volume composed of a 22-storey tower and a 9-storey plinth. As a key component of the Ruskin Square Masterplan, involving the creation of a new urban quarter in the land between East Croydon railway station and the existing town centre, the building’s character derives from a strong civic intent. Its ‘frame and infill’ external envelope establishes a unified façade, both emphasising the verticality of the tower and, at the same time, expressing the smaller-scaled variety of components that work within its mass.
Julian was keen on the innovative aspects of the project: “An interesting and a carefully considered interpretation of the local façade types.” The form of the building also impressed Julian: “Simple rectilinear forms respond to the massing of nearby existing commercial buildings. The approach to ‘hierarchy and depth’ provides interest and variety across the facades.”
Adams final comments drew on: “For me it’s the consistent rhythm of the façade which then conceals whatever is happening inside and knits the whole building together. This seems like it could be very flexible inside within the given envelope on the outside. A large proportion of it is a tall tower which is to be applauded because it doesn’t feel like 20 storeys, it feels a little more like something that is structured. I think the three storey bays really helps you to understand the building from a distance but also close up. It’s very cleverly done and the plans work, they’re very efficient.”
WAN AWARDS would like to thank the jury and congratulate all six finalists in the WAN Residential Award 2016. The final winner of this award will be announced on 10 January 2017.