WAN Awards final deadline 25 June: What do the judges want to see?

Alison Carter
18 Jun 2019

As the final deadline for the 2019 WAN Awards on 25 June looms we've spoken to three WAN Awards judges; Femi Oresanya, Principal, HOK, Elaine Toogood, Senior Architect, MPA - The Concrete Centre and Jacqueline Beckingham, Global Creative Director, Benoy, to find out how they view the future of some elements of architecture and what they want to see in a perfect awards entry.

Jacqueline Beckingham, Global Creative Director, Benoy

What makes an awards entry stand out for you?  

Stand out entries always include a clear description of the brief and the architectural response to that brief.  It does very much depend on the scale of the project, what images should be shown, but, as you’d expect, the jurors are looking to get a clear understanding of the design of the scheme within the submission and so it’s important to describe the scheme simply and comprehensively.  I for one, always love a clear and effective diagram!

Why do you think the WAN Awards are so valued by architects?  

To be honoured by your professional peers for a job well done is possibly the most relevant feedback that an architect can receive for their work.  The WAN awards are judged by architects and designers who understand the technical and creative challenges for each building type. To get feedback from those who have been thru the same processes and understand the creativity, skill and hard work that we each put into our designs is perhaps the most useful part of it. The shift from print sponsored publications which are often local, to internet based publishers like WAN has driven the global dialogue and the awards continue that globalization of quality design.  Lastly and most importantly, the WAN awards give everyone a chance to share their best work with a very broad audience.

How is artificial intelligence affecting the wider architectural world?

We’re at an amazing point in time at which architect’s have some incredibly powerful tools for design and production at their disposal.  And, these tools are in their infancy. Tools for parametric modelling allow us to test and explore ideas as never before. Allied professionals in construction, engineering and cost estimation have also embraced the technologies that allow us to better conceive, construct and plan our urban environment and so collectively, we are reaping the benefits. With all of this technological progress, it is imperative that architects fulfil their role as the representative of the “messy variable”, humanity. Ultimately, it’s the end user that we want to benefit from this effort by engaging with buildings and places that better meet their needs and are a joy to be in.

How important is it to future proof architectural buildings? Plus, if you are planning ahead, what tools do you use to envisage the future?  

Architecture has a permanence that other aspects of consumer culture don’t.  Architects are always working at designing a better future, so the idea of future proofing isn’t necessarily a part of that endeavour.  Having said that some of our most beloved buildings have changed uses over time and are the better for it. I was impressed last year by the creativity exhibited by many of the architect’s in the Adaptive Reuse category of the WAN awards.  Often the contrast of new and old together creates a dynamic that surpasses the original building, enthusing it with new energy and vitality.

Elaine Toogood, Senior Architect, MPA - The Concrete Centre

How is artificial intelligence affecting the wider architectural world?

I suspect that AI is having an impact on our lives and therefore on architecture in so many ways, ways  that we are not quite aware of. I think the potential affects for AI are huge, but we don’t know what they might be yet. In terms of concrete there is really exciting development going on: smart manufacture, real time quality and data analysis, digital  construction platforms, augmented reality visualisation on site, to name just a few.

How important is it to future proof architectural buildings? Plus, if you are planning ahead, what tools do you use to envisage the future?  

I think it is VERY important to future proof our new buildings and believe this is fundamental to our becoming a more circular economy. The world is gradually waking up to the fact that all construction uses resources,  and we should be building responsibly to enable our buildings continue to be useful in years to come to avoid needless and wasteful demolition. Futureproofing in this instance might mean more generous floor spans and floor to ceiling heights to allow for future adaption and reuse, as well as a long lasting structure. We should also be thinking about designing for future environmental conditions. In the UK this includes reducing risk of overheating and improved flood resilience. Heat mapping exercises are useful, and there is software to assist with that. The results can help identify if and where there is likely to be risk of overheating in a development, enabling appropriate changes to be made early, say to orientation, ventilation or passive cooling and also for designing in the means for sensible future adaptation like sun shading.

Why do you think the WAN Awards are so valued by architects?  

I think the WAN awards are a great means for showcasing and celebrating  some of the amazing architecture happening globally. It is so interesting to get a measure of the similarities and differences in approach to the use of concrete. Judging the awards is hugely rewarding in itself, and I thoroughly enjoy the discussion and debate that takes place with fellow judges during the process.

What would make an awards entry stand out?  

When judging the awards, it is the thoughtful design and inventive use of concrete that stand out for me.

The aesthetic and high-quality photography are essential, but it is the sense of the project that you gain from the drawings and the architect’s intent that give you an insight into the project into what has been achieved and the motivation behind it. Understanding the challenges that were overcome and the reasons concrete was used are always of interest.

Femi Oresanya, Principal, HOK

How is artificial intelligence affecting the wider architectural world?

AI is giving architects and designers the opportunity to focus on the creative processes rather than being involved in the more mundane repetitive processes of a project. These can be divided into two areas: Heuristic Search (Genetic algorithms, Simulated annealing, decisions data trees) and Machine learning techniques (Supervised learning, unsupervised learning, recurrent learning, reinforcement learning and neuronal networks).

In short AI gives us more time to design. The use of data created will enhance the design process. We are already utilising elements of AI in our day to day working life through Building Information Modelling (BIM) and parametric design with software like Grasshopper and the use of intelligent objects (families) in Revit, a BIM software.

Through parametric design, we transform the parameters associated to the design to resolve and search optimised solutions in a vast range of possibilities. The use of these techniques allows us the opportunity to optimise a design when one parameter cannot be maximised without diminishing another. For example, maximising the area of a particular element while keeping the cost as minimal as possible.

The use of these techniques allows us the opportunity to optimise design within certain parameters (cost, functionality and efficiency).  AI should allow us to plan our projects better by optimising design as well as reducing design and co-ordination time. This in turn should reducing construction time and create savings for the client.

At a macro level AI is beginning to help in the optimisation of smart cities by allowing flexibility to be built into them so that their usage changes in real time during the course of day.

At a micro level, IoT (Internet of Things) and AI are becoming more prevalent creating Smart Homes for those who want it.

How important is it to future proof architectural buildings? Plus, if you are planning ahead, what tools do you use to envisage the future?  

With the increasing cost of construction of some buildings, the future proofing of buildings is becoming more relevant in our ever-changing world. For end users, life-cycle costs of buildings are becoming more important than initial construction costs.

Buildings need to be future proofed in their design so that they can respond not only to climate and demographic change but changing working practices and lifestyles. Being able to adapt buildings and spaces for future uses will be critical in prolonging its life. However, there could be a cost in providing flexibility for a future proofed building that may never be realised.

Why do you think the WAN Awards are so valued by architects?  

I think that WAN Awards are valued by architects because the entries come all over the world. So if one is lucky enough to win an award, it is an acknowledgement that their entry is the best in their category. The winners will also receive acknowledgement from their peers and could lead to promoting their practice to a global clientele.

  • What would make an entry stand out for you?  
  • A strong idea and how well developed that strong design idea is.
  • How well the entry responds to the site and the context in which the project is set.
  • The spatial organisation.
  • How well integrated is sustainability into the project?
  • Accessibility – does the entry go beyond minimal compliance

The World Architecture News Awards showcase the best international design in both current and future projects. Entries for the 2019 Awards are now open - for further information and to submit your entry please click here.


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