Steven Song’s View on the World Architecture Festival: Winning Projects and Final Thoughts

While the interesting series of lectures and panel discussions were held at the main seminar room, in the smaller meeting rooms were presentations of shortlisted projects. Each project was presented to, and then critiqued by a group of juries in twenty minute intervals. On the third day, category winning schemes were presented in the main seminar room.

Click after the jump for the list of winning schemes.

MAXXI, National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Italy, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, UK

A Forest for a Moon Dazzler, in Costa Rica, designed by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architect, UK

Housing Development:
The Pinnacle @ Duxton, Singapore, designed by ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism,
Singapore

Learning Building:
School of the Arts, Singapore designed by WOHA, Singapore

Office Building:
Vali-Asr Commercial Office Building, Iran, designed by Kelvan, Iran

Holiday Building:
Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, designed by WOHA, Singapore

Shopping Building:
Yamaha Ginza, Japan, designed by Nikken Sekkei Ltd, Japan

Sport Building:
Soccer City, National Stadium-Boogertman+Partners, South Africa

Display Building:
The Spanish Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010, China, designed by MirallesTagliabue Embt, Spain

Health Building:
The Brain and Mind Research Institute – Youth Mental Health Building, Australia, designed by BVN Architecture, Australia

Shanghai Houtan Park, China, designed by Turenscape, China

Yevlakh Seed Industry Campus, Azerbaijan, designed by, TOCA, Turkey

The Helix Bridge, Singapore, designed by Cox Rayner Architects, Australia

DDB Office, Isanbul, Turkey, designed by Erginoglu & Calislar Mimarlik Insaat Ticaret ve Turizm Limited Sirketi, Turkey

The final, “World Building of the Year” was won by Zaha Hadid Architects, for their MAXXI national museum project in Italy. The winning design was selected from this shortlist by the ‘Super Jury’, which consisted of Arata Isozaki, Barry Bergdoll, who is the Phillip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Enrique Norten, founder of TEN Arquitectos, and Hanif Kara of engineer Adams Kara Taylor.

Another simultaneous program at the conference was a student competition, sponsored by AECOM. The urban design competition was to pick a city and propose lasting improvements. The competition was won by a team of four graduate students from Harvard University. The jury, which included Sir Peter Cook, Nabil Gohlam, and Sofia von Ellrichshausen, felt that the team had offered a strong statement built on a very fundamental idea of education as a driver for overcoming Port au Prince’s current challenges, which were worsened by the 2010 earthquake. What the jury found especially convincing was the team’s ability to build on an ideal and provide very detailed solutions such as the focus on practical education such as carpentry and other primary construction skills. They thought that this model could also be implemented in other disaster locations.

The conference gave rise to many questions and open topics for further investigations. Today, architecture is often merely a tool for marketing and a commercialized spectacle. Given – until recently – surpluses of building opportunities, fueled by oil-money and willing investors, and supported by a host of new technologies, architecture became a quick way of making money. The means became the end.

However, instead of using the opportunities and the technologies simply as tools, we doers and makers should consider our social obligation and broaden our intellectual inquiry, should question what changes these factors bring to our lives and how we can address them via design. Bjarke Ingels’ study of automobiles and urban living seems to have started in this vein. Joe Noero’s project in South Africa and the students’ response to the natural disaster and consequent social problems in Haiti confirm architecture’s role in social participation. This economic downturn, as painful as it is for practitioners and business owners, is perhaps finally an opportunity for architects who are sensible to clients’ needs and interested in cultural performances rather than spectacle-making.

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