Landscape makes its mark.
THE INAUGURAL WORLD ARCHITECTURE FESTIVAL BROUGHT ARCHITECTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO BARCELONA IN OCTOBER TO ATTEND OR PARTICIPATE IN A DIVERSE ARRAY OF SEMINARS, EXHIBITIONS AND PRESENTATIONS CELEBRATING ARCHITECTURE IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY.
The inaugural World Architecture Festival in Barcelona was notable in several respects: the friendliness of the atmosphere; the acknowledgement of other people's architectural achievements without rancour or backbiting; and the public, presentations by more than 200 architects of the best of their recently completed buildings. There were 17 category winners in the Festival Awards, from which the excellent new Universita Luigi Bocconi building in Milan, by the Dublin practice Grafton Architects, emerged as the overall winner. This is a serious piece of architecture for a serious client in a serious city; the depth of thinking about site, materials, construction and use was evident both in the images and drawings shown, and in the verbal presentation by the two (women) architects. A more than worthy winner up against tough competition across a range of building types and a wide variety of scales, from the single house to urban towers, notable for its strong bond to the surrounding streets and indeed the city of Milan itself.
What was noticeable about the category winners, in the round, was the extent to which they showed a highly empathetic relationship to landscape in all its many forms. For some projects this involved formal landscape design or landscape manipulation, for others it was a response to landscape as meta-context; in almost all cases it would have been impossible to describe the building fully without reference not merely to site as a given, but site as organic contributor to the nature of the newly created building. The close relationship between built form and surrounding landscape seemed to be universally beneficial.
Of course it is our own mental landscapes which determine a reaction to both buildings and the events around us. Those landscapes are largely determined by external events, a point of particular relevance in respect of the future of The Architectural Review. The editorial team here is being combined with its counterpart from The Architects' Journal, our UK sister magazine since 1896. Both titles will continue under a single editor, and one: hopes will continue to reflect the quality and diversity of contemporary architecture across the world. For me personally, this is an opportunity to devote more time to the World Architecture Festival (which, like AR, is owned by Emap). The Festival proved successful enough to warrant a second outing next year, and we hope and expect it will become an annual event in the architectural calendar. In the meantime, may I thank our subscribers, readers and advertisers for all their support over many years; it has been a privilege and a pleasure to edit the AR and I wish it well for the future.