The World Architecture Festival 2018 highlighted extraordinary projects from practices around the world, with awards for the good, the great and the innovative
With the theme of 'identity', the 11th edition of the World Architecture Festival – the largest global live architectural event – was held in Amsterdam for the first time this year following previous editions in Barcelona, Singapore and Berlin.
Among the most prestigious prizes in architecture, the 2018 awards programme received more than 1,000 entries for the first time, with numbers up 20 percent compared with 2017. Architects and designers generated 500-plus shortlisted entries across 81 countries, while all types and sizes of projects featured on the shortlist, ranging from private residential to education, infrastructure, healthcare, hospitality, cultural/civic, interior and landscape schemes.
The architects and designers behind each shortlisted project competed for category prizes by first presenting to international juries in front of the delegates gathered at the RAI convention centre, the venue for the festival. Category winners then competed against each other on the final day of the event, for the World Building of the Year, Future Project of the Year, Interior of the Year and Landscape of the Year. Read on for Perspective’s highlights and noteworthy winners from the World Architecture Festival 2018.BETTER HOMES FOR SENIORS
For addressing the problem of Singapore's growing ageing population, the coveted World Building of the Year Award went to Kampung Admiralty, a mixed-use building designed by WOHA that represents Singapore's first integrated development. Maximising land use – it is situated on 0.9ha and with a height limit of 45m – it takes a multi-layered approach to design, with commercial, residential and health spaces topped by green terraces. WAF programme director Paul Finch said the building was singled out because it not only dealt with the universal condition of longevity but also incorporated a huge amount of greenery via a series of layered levels. "This is a project that does something necessary in an intelligent fashion, from the way it connects to transport to its natural ventilation strategy, all benefitting from a decision to layer a series of buildings rather than separating them into separate tall blocks," said Finch. The jury felt this was a project with potential lessons for cities and countries around the world, he added.
Other innovative offerings for the elderly included Nikken's Wellcare Garden Fukasawa, Japan, which was shortlisted in the health category for its senior living facility that reaches out to the local community with a park and cafe/lounge to instigate cross-generational communication.ART NOUVEAU IS STILL RELEVANT
Proving that the decorative arts still matter, Danish practice JAC Studios was awarded World Interior of the Year (as part of WAF's sister event, INSIDE Festival of Interiors) for its Yumin Art Nouveau Collection. This permanent exhibition of delicate glass produced by the art nouveau movement between the 1870s and 1940s by artist Émile Gallé and brothers Auguste & Antonin Daum triumphed over more than 70 finalists across 10 categories and is currently on display at the Phoenix resort, Jeju Island, South Korea. The studio worked closely with art nouveau experts to create an exhibition using glass as the principle material to transform the interiors and welcome areas of the Genius Loci building by Pritzker Prize and RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner Tadao Ando.
Located in the coastal town of Seopjikoji with the Hallasan volcano as its backdrop, the dialogue between this powerful landscape and the exposed concrete of Ando's building creates a theatrical setting for the exhibition. "The architecture is in itself a piece of art and visitors cannot avoid being touched by its beauty," said JAC Studios founder Johan Carlsson. "The new museum is respectful but also challenges the context of the architecture."VR IS THE FUTURE OF PRESENTATION
Conveying a vision to clients is arguably one of the biggest challenges of the architectural process, which is why virtual reality is becoming much more widely used. According to a 2017 report by Chaos Group, more than two-thirds of architects planned to use VR in 2018. WAF attendees were invited to join VR experts Soluis in its reality portal and experience the advantages of a shared immersive experience by showcasing projects including the new stadium for British football club Tottenham Hotspur and co-working space company Workspace. The UK-based firm develops visual engagement assets including CGI views, CG animation, film and real-time interactive environments that can be accessed using the latest virtual and augmented reality hardware.A MORE FEMALE FUTURE
Launched nearly a decade ago in 1999, the Architectural Review's Emerging Architecture awards have included winners Shigeru Ban, Anna Heringer and Thomas Heatherwick. This year, the Carla Juaçaba Studio from Brazil received the £10,000 prize. The Rio-based practice presented a selection of projects for the award, including its chapel for the Pavilion of the Holy See at 2018's Venice Biennale and Casa Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro. The judging panel applauded the consistency of Juaçaba's work, the determination to achieve her vision, and commitment to working onsite. "Carla Juaçaba proposed something that interests me a lot and which I haven't seen before," said judge Ángela García de Paredes. "It also means a lot to celebrate the work of a female sole practitioner – it is tough to be a woman in architecture." Said Ronald Rietveld, "There is thread through all her work: the integration of structure, simplicity and balance."
A keynote by Maria Warner Wong, co-founder of Singapore's WOW Architects, was followed by Mecanoo's Francine Houben, who took to the WAF stage to share her experience of working on the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts in Taiwan, which opened last year; its vast, undulating structure took inspiration from the local Banyan trees. She spoke of the need to have wind blowing through the building given the location's sub-tropical climate.LANDSCAPING FORGES A NEW PATH
Another of the most coveted awards at WAF is Landscape of the Year, which went to Spain's Batlle i Roig Arquitectes for its pedestrian path along the gypsum mines in Barcelona. The project aims to create a set of pedestrian and bicycle paths in the form of a green belt on the perimeter of the city, and impressed the judges with its "poetic response using minimal means" by adapting and reinstating spaces that are currently run-down or underused. The jury also commended the firm for its innovative use of materials, as it uses concrete made with luminescent aggregate that improves visibility during the evening by returning the solar energy captured during the day. Another noteworthy project (shortlisted for Landscape of the Year) the Hamamyolu Urban Deck in Eskisehir, Turkey, by Yazgan Design, features a green pedestrian axis including a path that incorporates handcrafted local glass. During his presentation at WAF, partner Kerem Yazgan said 50,000 people of the city's 90,000 residents used the facility on the weekend, while amenities such as trampolines encourage people to revisit the space.REFRAMING CIVIC RENEWAL
The spotlight was cast on the world's best unbuilt architecture for WAF's Future Project of the Year, which this year went to Sebastián Monsalve and Juan David Hoyos for their Medellin River Parks/Botanical Park Master Plan in Medellin, Colombia, which aims to reconceptualise and regenerate the city's extensive river corridor. Seen as a divisive force within Medellin, some parts of the river will be buried and a park built on top to unite the city and reframe the possibilities for civic renewal. The festival's jury was impressed by the way this shaped a view of how urban spaces could be developed, used and inhabited. "By literally building bridges to connect disparate communities, it epitomises how architectural imagination can have an activist dimension, catalysing the social potential of the city," they said.ART DOESN'T HAVE TO BE BEAUTIFUL
Hailed as Africa's Tate Modern, Heatherwick Studio transformed a 1920s grain silo into South Africa's biggest museum to win the New and Old – Completed Buildings award for the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz-MOCAA) in Cape Town. Featuring a 10-storey high atrium that beckons visitors to come in, the building's new entrance lobby was lauded as a "unique and evocative space" by the judges. Addressing the audience on the WAF stage, Stepan Martinovsky told delegates that they didn't want to hide the scars of the building, but were keen to uncover its essence. Instead of demolishing something built on the profits from the slave trade, they have turned it a space where history will not be forgotten. From the top of the structure, you can see Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.SMASHING THE (GLASS) BOUNDARIES
Originally developed for the international competition to redesign the French capital's famous Montparnasse tower, Studio Gang's design transformation of the monolithic skyscraper into a new landmark for 21st-century Paris saw it claim the Glass Future Prize Winner. The jury was impressed by the project's performance-driven design – the tower is self-sustaining for 70 percent of its running time and uses wind energy to reduce mechanical ventilation to a minimum – and also by its dynamic shading system.
Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang, continued to shatter the glass ceiling of the predominantly male architectural world by delivering a keynote speech at the festival, Beyond Binary, in which she tackled the festival's theme of identity by discussing the inherited binary notions of identity – female/male, nature/city, wild/tame – and how they continue to inf luence architecture and urban design.
THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED AS "BREAKING NEW GROUND”, A FEATURE STORY FROM THE JANUARY/FEBRUARY ISSUE OF PERSPECTIVE MAGAZINE.