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Emerging Nations Grab Limelight at Awards Festival

December 17, 2009

By Clifford A. Pearson

A tectonic shift took place among winners at this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF), as projects from developing countries accounted for a significantly larger percent of the honors than they had in the past.

In 2008, the festival’s first year, only four of the 17 category winners came from the developing world—hailing from China, Burkina Faso, Croatia, and Chile. This year, eight of the 15 winners in the categories for built work and five of the 10 for future projects came from nations with developing economies. These countries were: China (two winners), Mexico (two), Croatia (two), India, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil, Hungary, Dominica, Singapore, and Dubai. The organizer of the event, EMAP, which is the parent company of Architectural Review, changed some of the categories and added future projects for the 2009 festival.

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich Architects.
Image courtesy WAF
Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich Architects. It also won in the “Built Projects: Culture” category. Click on the slide show icon to see more winners.
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The World Building of the Year, the grand prize winner, also came from the developing world. Members of a “super-jury” (including Rafael Viñoly, Peter Cook, Will Alsop, and Kengo Kuma) selected the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich Architects for the top honor, citing the way the building connects with the landscape and engages the local community. The thin-shell, rough-masonry complex houses artifacts from the region’s prehistory and was built with local labor. “It represents a complete contrast to last year’s winner,” notes Paul Finch, the WAF program director, referring to the Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan by Grafton Architects. While last year’s top building impressed judges with its formal precision and sensitive insertion in a dense urban context, the Mapungubwe Centre’s appeal came from its rugged response to its natural setting. “The emotional punch of this design turned out to be unstoppable,” says Finch. “Whether this reflects a larger change in the architectural landscape, we’ll have to wait until next year to see.”

Held in November, the WAF attracted over 1,500 attendees, down a couple of hundred from last year, and drew 620 project entries, down about 15 percent, says Finch. “We were really pleased, considering the economic situation,” he notes. The festival, which took place for the second time in Barcelona, exhibited all of the submitted projects in a large gallery; presented talks by figures such as Viñoly, Farshid Moussavi of Foreign Office Architects, and Charles Jencks; and ran seminars on topics like Managing Explosive Urban Growth, Barcelona Now, and Preserving Heritage. “Less Does More” served as a theme running through the festival and the topic for an exhibition. Architects for the roughly 220 short-listed projects made 10-minute presentations, providing a live component to the competition. 

 

World Building of the Year

Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich Architects

Future Project of the Year

The Spanish Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo by Miralles Tagliabue EMBT

Interiors and Fit Out of the Year

Corian Super-Surfaces Showroom in Italy by Amanda Levete Architects

Structural Design of the Year

Arena Zagreb in Croatia by Upi-2m

Built Projects, Winners

Civic and Community: Emergency Terminal in Croatia by Produkcija 004
Culture: Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich
Display: Cages for Macaws in Spain by Battle & Roig Architects
Health: Teleton Tampico in Mexico by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos
Holiday: Restaurant Tusen in Sweden by Murman Arkitekter
House: Klein Bottle House in Australia by McBride Charles Ryan
Housing: The Met in Thailand by WOHA
Landscape: Adaptation Palettes in China by Turen Design Institute
Learning: The Pearl Academy of Fashion in India by Morphogenesis
New and Old: TKTS Booth and the Redevelopment of Father Duffy Square in the U.S. by Perkins Eastman, Choi Ropiha, William Fellows/PKSB, and Dewhurst MacFarlane
Office: Unileverhaus in Germany by Behnisch Architekten
Production, Energy and Recycling: Bodegas Protos Winery in Spain by Rogers Stirk Harbour
Shopping: Havaianas in Brazil by Isay Weinfeld
Sport: Berry Sports Hall in Australia by Allen Jack + Cottier
Transport: Bras Basah Mass Rapid Transit Station in Singapore by WOHA

Future Projects, Winners

Commercial: Statoil Hydro Office in Norway by a-lab
Cultural: Szentendre Cemetery in Hungary by A4 Studio, Spanish Pavilion in China by Miralles Tagliabue EMBT
Education: Malama Learning Center in the U.S. by Eight Inc.
Health: Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital in Dubai
Infrastructure: Aguascalientes City Suburban Train in Mexico by RVDG Arquitectura
Landscape: London Green Grid in the U.K. by Design for London
Residential: Mero Beach Project in Dominica by BURO II

 

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