The WAN Future Projects Urban Design Award 2016 is a celebration of excellence for ‘design only’ projects that display vision and progressive thinking within this sector.
This year’s respected jury panel within the Urban Design category were: Neil Lewin, Deputy Regional Director at IBI Group, Bryan Avery MBE, Principal at Avery Associates Architects and Stephen Luoni, Director at The University of Arkansas Community Design Center.
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:
Waller Creek Regeneration and Curation in Austin, Texas, USA, by CMG Landscape Architecture
Waller Creek in Austin, Texas was ready for re-imagination. It is a narrow, urban riparian ecosystem that traverses several of the city’s most notable districts, yet this 15-block waterway had fallen into disrepair and was largely hidden by partial channelization and disengaged development.
Stephen was impressed with the way the stream and city were blended together by this project: “This proposal improves an undervalued urban riparian corridor, capitalising on edge conditions to create a chain of new place-based space and programs. The project knits the city and stream quite well using best practices in stream morphology and design to create a rich spatial conditions that otherwise would not exist.”
The Waller Creek Conservancy wanted to envision a different Waller Creek – a new district within Austin that serves residents and welcomes visitors to experience nature within the city and a place that expresses the culture of the capital of Texas.
Neil went on to say: “I like the use of the buildings and spaces throughout the City. It’s a North-American City with a very strong rectangular grid in it, to actually break that grid with the linear spaces is very impressive.”
Bryan: “I think the highlight with this project, is the weaving route which generates these fantastic little quarters, which are delightful areas that not only improve the public realm but increase property values deep into a plan. This is a brilliant example of that and very sensitively done.”
Masterplan IFC Moscow, in Russia by ASTOC Architects and Planners
The masterplan for the International Financial Center Moscow is the result of an international two-stage masterplan competition. The competition had entries from more than 80 teams from 22 countries in the first stage, eight internationally renowned companies had been chosen for the second stage.
Bryan found the whole location well laid out with plenty of open space: “You can imagine living here, the shopping and entertainment is a real focus right in the centre, and then it has all these devices, the river, the lake and the green fingers.”
Bryan added: “I think the other thing that stands out, is I can imagine this in the future getting ever-more dense. There’s a capability there to amalgamate, it is a very generous plan.”
The 460 hectare site with its 4.1m sq m gross floor area of mixed-use development will capitalize on the Moscow River’s greenbelt by extending the river landscape throughout the IFC to achieve a balance between nature and city.
Neil concluded by saying: “I like the way the architects have manage to create, different types of spaces, which is always a positive.”
Brooklyn Strand in New York, USA by WXY Architecture and Urban Design
In July 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of initiatives meant to further the growth of Downtown Brooklyn into a thriving, 21st century Downtown area. Among these initiatives was an opportunity to “Reinvent the Brooklyn Strand” - connecting the Downtown Brooklyn neighbourhoods to the Brooklyn waterfront through a reimagined series of disconnected yet interrelated parks, plazas, and greenways. As a result WXY Architecture and Urban Design put forward design recommendations for specific open spaces that form a larger vision.
Neil was impressed with the proposal: “I think this is exactly what this part of the City needs, the aspirations are very good. The connections they are proposing would be vital for the area.”
Stephen went on to say: “An episodic urbanism, each increment proposed is surgical, offering important inflection points for enhancing the liveability and identity of this part of Brooklyn. The scheme is a very good example of Sola Morales’ notion of urban acupuncture.”
HarbourLoop in Hong Kong by Lead 8
HarbourLoop is a vision by Lead 8, a team with a passion for creating liveable cities, to transform the contours of Hong Kong’s waterfront into an iconic 23 km urban walking, running, and cycle network.
Bryan was impressed by the way the project linked various parts of Hong Kong with the mainland China: “What struck me most about this project was the sheer ambition, the perimeter walk around some of the most significant parts of the island and indeed linking up with the mainland are extraordinarily ambitious.”
HarbourLoop will be Hong Kong’s first mobility network prioritising zero emission modes of transit, a continuous loop designed to follow the contours of the harbour’s modern coastal geography. The route uses a combination of proposed and existing urban spaces and elevated sections to overcome major infrastructure barriers.
Neil liked the way the project created additional space in an area where it is at a premium: “There’s so little land in Hong Kong, I think it’s fabulous the thought of carving out something that gives you the extra space and the cycling and walking this project offers is fantastic. This is exactly what I think the City needs.”
Parramatta City River Strategy in Sydney, Australia by McGregor Coxall
The banks of Parramatta River have been inhabited for thousands of years, providing fresh water, food and transport for the Aboriginal clans that lived along its course. After Europeans arrived it fed Australia’s first successful agricultural development at Experiment Farm, helping to establish a bustling regional centre with a population greater than the settlement at Sydney Cove.
Stephen liked the way the city and the water were brought together: “The proposal redeploys the water as a backdrop to urban life and theatre brought back to the water’s edge. The proposed quay is a beautiful anchoring point between city and water.”
Neil went on to say: “This project shows a real understanding of the location and how to place-make. The architects show a real understanding of the flood-flow, the different height issues, in my eyes a very strong contender.”
Bryan concluded by saying: “The cross-section is interesting, little cafes and other things are shown beneath the raised level.”
The Soul of Norrebro in Copenhagen, Denmark by SLA
In a world where climate changes are becoming ever more extreme it is evident that our cities aren’t adapted to the increasing temperatures and torrential rain. Today the metropolises of the world are fighting devastating floods and urban heat, making more and more cities in parts inhabitable. The City of Copenhagen is, like many other cities, facing critical climate: Cloudbursts, urban heat island effect, increasing CO2 footprint and water pollution to name a few. SLA’s project THE SOUL OF NØRREBRO turns the problem of increasing rainwater into a resource that deals with these challenges above and enhances life in the city.
Stephen felt that the project was inspirational and offered a real solution to a serious issue: “The project is exemplary in showing the potential of integrating hydrological and urban design in water-drenched cities. Unruly water is managed as an ecosystem-based utility to deliver a range of ecological services beyond flood control, while also driving urban identity and place making. A combination of engineering and urban design, the proposal is inspirational, beautifully crafted, and deeply local yet offers a set of transferable technologies for application in other contexts. The visualizations are stunning, projecting the timelessness of great paintings, as if this project was inevitable.”
Neil also praised the solution that SLA offered: “An excellent integrated solution to a floodwater
WAN AWARDS would like to thank the jury and congratulate all six finalists in the WAN Future Projects Urban Design Award 2016. The final winner of this award will be announced on 14 March 2017.