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Hunt Is On for World’s Best Architecture

May 21, 2009

By Tim McKeough

Prepare your portfolios—entries are now being accepted for a competition to identify the best new buildings around the globe.

Organizers of the World Architecture Festival, held for the first time last fall, have announced that this year’s event will take place in Barcelona, from November 4 to 6. The main component of the festival is an international awards program judged by notable architects, writers, and editors. Among the big-name jurors this year are Kengo Kuma, Peter Cook, Will Alsop, Rafael Viñoly, and Lee Polisano.

The 2008 winner in the housing category was Mountain Dwellings, in Denmark, by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group).
Photo © Jens Lindhe/courtesy World Architecture Festival
The 2008 winner in the housing category was Mountain Dwellings, in Denmark, by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group).
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The festival is run by Emap, a UK-based media company that publishes The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal and manages various industry events. RECORD also is a sponsor this year.

More than 40 awards will be given, distributed among four main categories. Due to feedback from last year’s participants, when the awards program focused exclusively on completed buildings, the organizers have added three new categories: future projects (on the boards), interiors and fit-outs, and structural design. The future projects category is open to design work started after January 1, 2008. All other categories are open to projects completed between January 1, 2008, and June 26, 2009.

While the troubled economy could lead to fewer attendees and award submissions—in 2008, there were 722 entries from 63 countries—event organizers say they aren’t discouraged. “It’s not a question of being foolishly optimistic, but of saying that architectural production and architectural thinking don’t end when times are bad,” says Paul Finch, festival program director and editor emeritus of The Architectural Review. Plus, the projects that will be considered this year likely got under way long before the recession. “There will be all sorts of buildings,” Finch says, “that represent years of architectural thinking and activity.”

Competition entries are being accepted until June 26 at www.worldarchitecturefestival.com. The fee for the first entry is 545 € ($730); subsequent entries cost 400 € ($535).

Every project submitted is exhibited at the festival and is included in the World Buildings Directory, an online database maintained by Emap. The 15 top finalists in the completed buildings category also vie for the top prize: the World Building of the Year award, which last year was won by Grafton Architects for Luigi Bocconi University in Milan.

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