Multi Use

WAN Awards 2019: conversation, learning and winning celebrations in London

by Alison Carter 31 October 2019 2019 Architect of the Year / Practice of the year

The 2019 WAN Awards winners were announced on 24 October as part of a day of inspiring and informative panel discussions and networking in London’s Courthouse Hotel. 

All the shortlisted WAN Award entries were displayed throughout the day which meant that both well-established and up and coming companies were able to showcase their work effectively.  

The judges were impressed with the high calibre and quality of entries, as well the diversity and global contribution to the competition, noting the new and original approaches to design, materials and structure. One of the judging teams said they had been looking for, and seen, “design that makes sense and that which shows honesty and integrity in both the plan and structure. It needs to be functional for its use as well as being innovative and artistic.” 

Overall judges saw a move towards a greater attention to the green agenda in this year’s entries, with the environment shining through as one of the main themes, alongside the issue of sustainability. One challenge for architects the judges pointed out was how to create sustainability with limited resources and how to influence it the overall build, as changes need to be made on a large scale. The challenges listed included providing costs and carbon figures and following the regulations behind new measures. 

The afternoon’s panel discussions reinforced the importance of best practice regarding environmental concerns for architects and covered issues such as incorporating sustainable strategies creatively into designs and reducing carbon use, as well as the all important ethical and environmental responsibilities.  The best ways in which to achieve best practice in the environmental arena, was a recurring theme for the day, picked up and discussed in some of the panel discussions. 

Keynote speaker Michael Pawlyn, Founder of Exploration Architecture, (pictured) opened the session by explaining the need to shift from sustainable to regenerative methods to try to manage the effects of climate crisis.  He detailed how biology can influence and used in designs and the effect this would have on a broader scale. “The answer to ultimate intergenerational design is biomimicry, learning from imitations in biology and changing it in human needs,” he confirmed.

The first panel discussed future proofing architecture and how developments in technology and AI can be integrated. One of the panellists, Raj Kumar Suresh, Senior Urban Designer at Atkins Global, said we should move forward with the use of AI, as “machines can help us do more than what the simple brain can.” 

The importance of sustainable and ethical responsibility throughout the design and production of facades and the all important fire and safety regulations were discussed by Mike Heppell, CEO and Christi Dunkley, Head of Market Development from Longboard, WAN Awards 2019 Headline sponsor. 

The next discussion focused on how to use creativity in the age of environmental crisis and reduce the negative impact created from previous construction methods. How to learn and develop new sustainable materials and influence the use of the on a larger scale to create a significant impact.

Drawing the panel discussions to a close, David Krebs, Exhibition Manager, from sponsor BAU, updated the audience on two new shows planned for next year in Germany and China respectively. 

The judges appreciated the diversity of the entrants and the attention the awards brought to different countries and cultures. The judges said the WAN Awards are so important in creating international comparison, which was seen especially this year as the East and West architecture designs have merged. They said the global factor of the awards is what made them important to the industry.  The ability to compare countries and cultures and give them platforms to show the work gives everybody a wide perspective of upcoming designs,” they said. 

For future entrants the judges offered some advice, “talk specifically about the company itself and focus on the category, really justify why work has been entered and what it offers.” 

All the winning entries for WAN Awards 2019 can be found here.


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