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Emerging architecture: work celebrated in the ar+d awards this year comes from all inhabited continents and represents a very wide diversity of building types and thoughtful responses to an extraordinary range of society, topography and climate.

This is the sixth annual celebration of the ar+d awards, and a suitable moment for reviewing their history and present state. From the first, we were determined that they should celebrate talent, excellence, imagination and ingenuity so, unlike many awards, the ar+d ones were never intended to make a profit for their promoters.

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We all know the falseness of such affairs. To cash brought in by high entry fees for competitors are added profits from vertiginously vulgar 'gala dinners' that entrants are expected to spend lots of money to attend. At these sickeningly boring events, the dubious decisions of an often shadowy jury are announced with flatulent rhetoric and overchewed jokes to the accompaniment of plastic food and dishwasher wine. The torture of such evenings is deliberately prolonged because awards are divided into as many categories as possible so each can attract a sponsor to add to the event's income.

Open to all, regardless

Before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy, I am happy to admit that the ar+d awards do have sponsors. We started them in partnership with the Danish architectural design company d line, a link that ended after five years of creative collaboration. Our principal supporters this year are Buro Happold, (1) the international consulting engineers and, for the first time, German firm Grohe Water Technology. (2) They both generously make it possible for us to break even, and without them the whole operation would be impossible. We are most grateful to them.

We wanted the awards to be open to all eligible architects and designers, no matter where they come from or what their income. So there are no entry fees. Work for some of the poorest people in the world has been celebrated, as well as buildings for the prosperous (indeed, the first award of all was given to an orphanage for a really impoverished mountain community in Chhebetar, Nepal, by Hans Olav Hesseberg, and Sixten Rahlff, with Eli Synnevag, AR December 1999). We have been delighted to find a very wide global response over the years; we have had entries from a great spectrum of countries of projects as different as a house made of living trees in Ethiopia and an inflatable silver construction site wall in Tokyo, an organic bus station carved out of polystyrene foam in the Netherlands and a crematorium in India. This year, entries came from well over 50 places as far apart as Argentina and Austria, China and Chile, Singapore and Slovenia. Countries new to the awards included Mauritius, the Seychelles and Vietnam (the latter entry won a commendation, see p64). (3)

Over the years, we have modified rules and procedures. At first, for instance, we attempted to make a single overall award. It quickly became apparent that attempting to select just one winner out of such a diverse range of entries was extremely difficult, absurd even. So, in each of the last five years we have had several award winners, among whom the prize money (4) is divided equally. To the winners is always added a complement of commended, highly commended and mentioned schemes.

No straitjacket

Though we have sometimes contemplated setting up different categories within the awards scheme, for instance architecture and product design, landscape and building, public and private, we have never done so formally for several reasons. First, it is difficult to fix categories in advance for such a heterogeneous collection of work without forcing individual entries into often inappropriate pigeon holes. Second, categories can cause confusion: for instance an entry could be both a landscape and a building, or a conversion and an urban element. To decide that an entry should fit one category would be arbitrary and hinder understanding of complexity. The third reason for not having formal categories is that no jury has ever asked for them (though we have usually discussed the idea at some point in the proceedings). We have often had temporary and fluid groupings of entries during the assessment process, but they have never been formalized.

Nor have the juries ever questioned the ground rules of entry for the awards. Work submitted must be built or manufactured. It must have been designed and supervised by the people or teams submitting the entry. Entrants must be 45 years old or younger (the limit was chosen because, in many countries, it is difficult for architects and designers to make their own way before that age).

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The editors have been proud of all six of our juries. Jurors have been selected for their own internationally recognized and distinguished contributions to practice and the human-made world. Almost always, they have been rather older than 45, but on one or two occasions, they have been able to enter themselves (though of course, they didn't). Usually, people who have rarely, if ever, met each other before have got on remarkably well. Members have complemented each other and there have been very few moments when violent scenes threatened to break out. This year's jury members were Gert Wingardh (Gothenburg), Mario Cucinella (Bologna, former winner of an ar+d commendation in 2003), Kevin Daly (Daly Genik, Los Angeles) and Ryue Nishizawa (Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, Tokyo); as editor of the AR, I (a non-practising architect) was chairman and have written the summary notes on each scheme shown here.

Common, humane values

Each jury has been different, but all have held some underlying criteria and values in common. Juries have to a great degree eschewed formalism and chosen work that enhances human life and that of the planet. Without being pompous about it. Jurors have accepted that architecture and design are moral issues that concern us all, and not primarily means for gratifying the egos of designers and their clients. Juries have broadly accepted the environmental imperative, that architecture and design can and must have a major part to play in enabling humanity to live in greater harmony with the planet. Another set of values embraced by successive juries has been tectonic integrity and materiality. A further criterion has been the quality of response to context and the genius loci. While successive juries have had a good deal in common, so have many entries. While we have had some large buildings in the past, for instance the Nuuk cultural centre in Greenland (AR December 1999), the Finnish Embassy in Berlin (AR December 2000), and a major headquarters block in the same city, many of the entries have been quite small, for small commissions are what architects starting out on their own usually begin with. This year's award winners included the tiny house by Atelier Tekuto in Tokyo (p50), which won its place for its extraordinary constructional ingenuity and sheer compression. Daniel Bonilla's little chapel in a clearing in the Columbian forest (p42) achieved its award for the ingenuity with which a small volume can generously extend itself in welcome to congregations much larger than the normal one. Other distinguished small works celebrated here include the masterly mausoleum in Murcia by Manuel Clavel Rojo (p60), the garden pavilion by eightyseven at Sant Miquel de Cruilles, Spain (p69) and the temporary Swiss exhibition gallery in Madrid by 2b Architectes (p82).

Two of the award winners were celebrated largely because of their very different responses to genius loci. At the winery near Otago, New Zealand by Architecture Workshop, the blade of the artefact enhances but contrasts with the sublime natural landscape (p46). PLOT's approach to making a youth sailing club in the dreary, flat, exhausted landscape of Amager in the Copenhagen complex was to make an entirely new and exciting artificial landscape showing admirable practical command of new geometries (p38). Two houses, Krater in the Cyclades by DECA Architecture (p66), and David Mc Dowell's transformation of a derelict farm in County Dublin (p76), show great sympathy with their completely different sites and circumstances.

Transformations

We were happy to celebrate Tezuka Architects' splendid local museum in the mountains of the Niigata Province, Japan (p78), which both explains the strange landscape, and physically engages with it. Similarly, in the Italian lake country, Marco Castelletti's bathing establishment responds to the stunning natural beauty of its site by reaching out into it (p72). Castelletti's small urban transformation at Cesano Maderno was highly commended for its imaginative and sensitive transformation of the traditional fabric (p58). Incidentally, Castelletti is one of a very few architects to be honoured twice in the same year. A contrasting instance of urban landscape transformation is seen in the delightful woven water installation made by Turenscape at Dujiangyan City in Sichuan Province, China (p98).

Another area of great importance to young architects is transformation of existing buildings. Aparicio+Fernandez-Elorza's creation of a lecture theatre and architectural archive centre in Madrid won its award for its imaginative and sometimes radical transaction with the existing Nuevos Ministerios (p54). Ofis Arhitekti's bold exploratory treatment of the city museum of Ljubljana, Slovenia won a high commendation for its bravery (p62). Baupiloten was mentioned for making a stiff, formal nineteenth-century urban school open and generous on a very small budget (p83).

Two conversions of existing buildings were celebrated for their perceptions of the numinous: dA's Interfaith Spiritual Center, Northeastern University, Boston, USA (p68) and Abramson Teiger's transformation of Encino, California (p80). Both are radical in contrasting ways: the Center has to serve many faiths with equal dignity, while the church transformation is intended to intensify the experiences of its congregation by manipulation of space and light. A further group of entries must be mentioned, those based on understanding of technology and its human potential. Sadly, none got an award this year, but several were recognized by the jury. Outstanding among these was the school in Vietnam by Theskyisbeautiful (p64), who have suggested ways of using bamboo, an abundant, cheap and neglected local product, as a material for permanent buildings: a proposal that could transform the economy of the area. At the other end of the technological spectrum is Carl Fredrik Svenstedt's Glowgo lamp (p74), which uses plastics and fluorescence in a new way (and is the only product design to be celebrated this year). A radical and subtle understanding of the properties of stainless steel by smarch (p75) has allowed the little railway terminus of Worb in Switzerland to be woven sleekly into the existing townscape. Finally, the wall of the residential tower in Singapore by WoHa (p70) was commended by the jury for its reworking of the traditional monsoon window; there should be much more investigation and adaptation of such traditional devices to reduce our dependence on fossil energy to control internal climates.

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Jury members were unanimous in all decisions, and we were very pleased by the variety of award-winning, commended and mentioned schemes. Awards will be given at a ceremony at the RIBA in London on 2 December, (5) after which all the work shown here is on display there until 4 March 2005. (6) We hope the exhibition will travel after that. A series of lectures by this year's winners (now a regular feature of the awards programme) will be held at the RIBA in early spring.

Details of the next cycle of awards will be published in the AR and on our website www.arplus.com in the New Year. We hope that entries will be as varied, ingcnious and exciting as they have been this time.

1 Buro Happold is a distinguished multi-disciplinary international practice of consulting engineers with 13 offices worldwide.

2 Grohe is a leading supplier of complete water technology solutions. Targeting both residential and contract applications, sanitary products and systems from Grohe combine supreme functionality with path-breading design.

3 A full list of entrants is given on our website www.arplus.com.

4 [pounds sterling]10 000.

5 No, we do not charge for admission.

6 We are most grateful to Shopkit for providing the stands on which the exhibition is mounted.
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Title Annotation:comment
Author:Davey, Peter
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Cover Story
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:2025
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