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2016 edition

Living Places – Simon Architecture Prize 2016 received 104 built works from 16 European countries. The Jury analysed all the proposals and drew up a list of 8 finalists and 2 winners, one per category. The jury meeting took place on the 18th of November 2016 at DHUB in Barcelona. A conversation between the winners, Anne Lacaton, Jean-Philippe Vassal, Frédéric Druot, Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores, was held at Sala Beckett in Barcelona on the 22th of December 2016. The Granting Ceremony was celebrated at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in the evening of the same day.

jury members

Ilka Ruby

Chairwoman.

Ilka Ruby is a Berlin-based publisher and curator on issues surrounding architecture and urbanism. She studied architecture at RWTH Aachen and TU Vienna. Together with her partner Andreas Ruby, she founded textbild, an office for architectural communication, and Ruby Press, a publishing house with a focus on architecture, art, and other cultural practices engaged in the production of space. Ilka Ruby has taught at Cornell University, Berlin University of the Arts, and the Peter Behrens School of Architecture in Düsseldorf.

Camilla van Deurs

Partner, Director Head of Design Team Architect MAA, PhD. As Team Lead, Camilla works with her team to develop Public Space and Street Designs, Masterplanning Frameworks and Pilot Projects. Camilla has worked with both public and private clients in Europe, USA, Australia, Middle East and China at both a strategic and design level. Camilla holds a PhD in Urban Design with a focus on urban housing and is an active lecturer on the Gehl methodology, speaking at conferences around the world. She is also an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, as well as a Board Member for the Danish Architects Association.

Carlos Ferrater

Doctor of Architecture and Professor of Architectural Project Design at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Director of the Cátedra Blanca, Barcelona. Awarded the 2009 National Architecture Award by the Spanish Ministry of Housing for his overall career and since 2011 member of the Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA. Academician-Elect of the Real Academia de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi. Conferred as Doctor honoris causa by the University of Trieste. In 2006 he set up, along with Xavier Martí, Lucía Ferrater and Borja Ferrater, the Office of Architecture in Barcelona (OAB), with Núria Ayala as Projectʼs Director.

Albert Moya

Hailing from Catalonia, Albert Moya is at the forefront of a new generation of film directors who are injecting structure and ambitious storytelling into fashion’s motion image field. He began his career as an art director to the fashion brand El Delgado Buil, but Moya’s fascination with historic cinema swiftly led him to filmmaking. After assisting directors including Isabel Coixet in his home country, Momya moved to New York in 2013 where he directed his debut short “American Autumn”. Throughout Moya’s work, the thread of design and architecture personified has lead to meaningful collaborations with Bulgari, Mulberry, Hermés, M2Malletier and new Dries Van Noten Film shot at Palau de la Música to name a few.

Salvi Plaja

Salvi Plaja Miró, design director for Simon group, has an extense experience in the industrial design field. Under his leadership, SIMON has been widely awarded both in national and international contests including the Premios Nacionales de Diseño 2016 awarded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, the IF Gold Design Award, the Red Dot Award, the Premios Delta, and the Premi Catalunya d’Ecodisseny 2015.

Notes from the chair

Notes from the chair: Ilka Ruby

  

About the Collective Places Finalists

Madrid Rio project is the biggest of all the projects delivered. It is a huge urban park stretching along both banks of the river Manzanares for about 12 km. This precious piece of land was dedicated solely to cars, and featured a section of the first Madrid Ring Road, which is now buried below the park. The project is a generous investment by the City of Madrid, reclaiming public space for pedestrians and bicycles. It is a truly inclusive project, connecting various neighbourhoods by 12 new pedestrian bridges and providing differentiated spaces for all kinds of activities. Nowadays, city planning is all too often corrupted by commercial marketing pressure, so we see this project as an outstanding example of a city policy that shifts attention onto the well-being of all its inhabitants, and not just a certain interest group.

The Dressing up the Square project is, in terms of scale, investment and means, the exact opposite of the previous project. It does, however, follow the same spirit in what it achieves: it brings a declined public space back to the community and gives it back its dignity. This is done through minimal means, namely the use of colour. Architects frown upon the use of colour: they disregard it as a type of surface beautification that may look nice, but which does not have the power to change a space. The place in Olot proves the opposite. The reason for this, is that the design of the pattern applied to the existing surfaces of the square is very specific: the pattern is reminiscent of carpets, curtains and table cloths, it refers to domestic life, and therefore creates a feeling of home and belonging; it is not trying to hide the existing, rather enhance the architecture of the place; it is in line with different communal activities, such as the paper-costumes parade, as we will see in the delightful video that was submitted.

Ceuta, located on the north coast of Africa, is one of two populated Spanish territories on mainland Africa. As we can imagine, this makes it a city with very specific conditions and a very specific history.  The Ceuta Public Library embraces and links to that history, as it is determined by an archaeological excavation at the heart of the building. This excavation features the ruins of a medieval town from the Marinid dynasty, a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Berber descent, that ruled Morocco from the 13th to the 15th century. The library’s reading spaces are organized around the excavation, making history very tangible by exposing walls and objects of the everyday life of people who inhabited the place a long time ago.

Sala Beckett, Theatre and International Drama Centre, winning work from the Collective Places category, also brings memory back to life. It is a transformation of an abandoned space, deeply rooted within the collective memory, as the community used to celebrate family festivals and parties here. Now the space has a completely new function. Transforming the social club, but also showing the different stages of its use, and keeping as much as possible of its former spaces and decoration. It creates a very specific atmosphere that relates to the past, but which also generates a homely feeling in a public facility building, making it easy to relate to it and appropriate it.

Co-Housing Vienna contains one of the most private programs we can imagine: housing. As more and more people live in single households and the traditional nuclear family is rapidly losing importance, there are more and more people searching for new forms of housing that allow them to experience being part of a new community. Co-housing Vienna is one such collaborative housing project, for 67 adults and 34 children. It houses 40 apartments, as well as a large number of collective spaces for the community and the neighbourhood: a community kitchen, a children’s playroom, commercial spaces, a big event hall, a collective roof terrace with a sauna, a meditation room, guest apartments and a library. This work is an outstanding example of a bottom-up project, initiated and run by the inhabitants themselves, committed to an economy of sharing, where boundaries of private and collective have shifted, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

 

  

About the Personal Places Finalists

We start with the winner of the Personal Places category: The Transformation of 530 dwellings, blocks G, H, I, a transformation of three social housing buildings, built in the early 60s, each 10 to 15 floors high with 530 apartments in total. What makes this project very unique is that the building was transformed while it was inhabited. This was possible because the architects decided to conserve the existing building without making important interventions to its structure. Instead, they added a new layer of extended wintergardens and balconies for each apartment. Through this, the inhabitants can enjoy more natural light, more fluid open space and more views, plus they get the opportunity to live outside while being at home. Housing developments from the 60s and 70s often have a bad reputation, and many people would like to see them torn down. This project shows a different way of dealing with that kind of architectural heritage: it shows that these buildings can be transformed by adding new qualities to them. A transformation that respects each individual user and gives those buildings back their dignity.

The Provinciehuis of North-Brabant is a renovation of a building by Hugh Maaskant from 1971, consisting of a huge tower on a plinth. It is an unpopular building, not only because of its size, but also because the spatial quality of the original design, which allowed interaction between politicians, administrators, civil servants and citizens, was lost over time. The renovation is giving back the original spatial quality of the plan, through functional measures, like taking away the security boundaries in the plinth and making the central hall completely accessible, making you feel invited.  It also brings back this quality through design measures, by the use of material and colours that create intimate and personal dimensions within this generous gesture of a building. Rather than appearing intimidating, the monument celebrates the everyday routines of people using the space: politicians, administrators, civil servants and citizens.

Located in a vast landscape of a swamp basin, the Crematorium Hofheide is placed like a sculpture in a park. It does not give away its function to the outside, but integrates into the landscape, magnifying our sense of being part of nature, part of a bigger whole. It is calm and reduced in detailing and colour, it doesn’t distract the user or passer-by, but allows them to focus, in their own personal way, to say goodbye to the ones they have lost. The interior spaces provide an ideal atmosphere for a sense of spiritual connection, embracing the human being in their most introspective moment.

The Housing Renovation is a renovation of an apartment in an existing housing block on the outskirts of Madrid, inhabited by a family of five: two adults and three children. Like many buildings from decades ago, the apartment no longer suited the lifestyle and needs of the family. It had a traditional ground plan, that, through its layout and room sizes, dedicated each space a specific function and did not allow for flexible use or adaptation by the user. The transformation changes this situation through a very simple yet effective method: a number of sliding and folding doors allow for various constellations of spaces; rooms can get bigger or smaller, more intimate or more open. The space no longer prescribes the use but allows the user to appropriate it in a very playful way.

Full Moon was the smallest project presented in the award. It is the addition of an outdoor room to a small semi-detached house from the 1950s. This room blurs the boundary between public and private by expanding the domestic activity to the outside, while at the same time bringing more light into the house. Elaborate details and the use of material respect the existing building, making the addition an integral part of it, as if it had never been planned otherwise. At night, the space is dominated by one simple element: a big moon shaped lamp that can be moved in different positions, creating very different atmospheres, from general lighting, to intimate lighting, to indirect lighting. It is a small project where each design decision has been made with care to achieve a certain effect, and all done in with a very relaxed attitude, making it also just a beautiful place you want to spend time in.

2018 edition

Living Places – Simon Architecture Prize 2018 received 145 built works from 12 European countries and Mexican territories. The Jury analysed all the proposals and drew up a list of 8 finalists and 2 winners, one per category. The jury meeting took place on the 26th of October 2018 at Espacio Fluvia in Barcelona. A conversation between Frida Escobedo (president of jury) and Martha Thorne was held at Espacio 100 de Simon in Barcelona on the 25th of October 2018. The winners were announced at the Granting Ceremony that took place on 28th November 2018 at Espacio 100 de Simon in Barcelona.

jury members

Frida Escobedo
Chairwoman
Architect, Mexico City

Frida Escobedo is an architect and designer based in Mexico City. Her work focuses largely on the reactivation of urban spaces that are considered to be residual or forgotten, through projects that range from housing and community centers, to hotels, galleries, and public art installations. In addition to her practice, Frida Escobedo has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is the recipient of the 2016 Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award, the 2017 Architectural League Emerging Voices Award, and in 2018 was selected to design the 18th Serpentine Summer Pavilion in London.

Davide Rapp
Architect and video artist, Milan

Davide Rapp, 1980, architect and video artist. Ph.D. in Interior Design at Politecnico di Milano. He participated as a contributor in the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – Fundamentals (Biennale Venezia, 2014) with ‘Elements’, a movie montage of short architecture-related clips, conceived specifically for the introduction room of the exhibition ‘Elements of Architecture’, curated by Rem Koolhaas, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He has been published in national and international architecture magazines such as Abitare, Icon Design, San Rocco and Architectural Review.

Cecilia Tham
Biologist turned designer turned entrepreneur, Hong Kong-Barcelona

Biologist turned designer turned entrepreneur. Harvard graduate. Mentor for Google Launchpad. Speaker at TEDx Barcelona. Parsons New School
Born in Hong Kong, she has been living in Barcelona for more than 14 years. She has lived in Macao, Atlanta, New York and Boston and has two daughters. She is the founder of Makers of Barcelona, one of the largest platforms for coworking in the city. She has also created FabCafe, MEAT Creative and Assemble.rs, initiatives that promote collaborative innovation between companies and individuals.

Ricardo Flores
Flores&Prats Architects, Barcelona

Ricardo Flores is architect by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism of Buenos Aires, Master in Urban Design and Doctor Architect by the School of Architecture of Barcelona. After a long collaboration at Enric Miralles’ office, in 1998 establishes Flores & Prats Architects together with Eva Prats in Barcelona, an office dedicated to the confrontation of theory and academic practice with design and construction activity. Ricardo is Professor at the School of Architecture of Barcelona, and has been Visiting Professor and Lecturer in universities around the world.

Salvi Plaja Miró
Design Director for Simon group, Barcelona

Salvi Plaja Miró, design director for SIMON Holding and Fluvia, he has an extense experience in the industrial design field. Under his leadership, SIMON has been widely awarded both in national and international contests including the Premios Nacionales de Diseño 2016 awarded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, the IF Gold Design Award, the Red Dot Awards, the Premios Delta, and the Premi Catalunya d’Ecodisseny 2015.

jury proceedings

“Living Places understands excellence as the provision of an added value: when interest goes beyond aesthetics and works stand out not so much by virtue of their programme but rather of a quality that makes them unique, in which skill and inventiveness combine as motors to devise precise, specific action strategies. It is an architecture prize that focuses on the realm of the inhabitant, who fills spaces with life and endows them with meaning. An award that aims to be a framework for reflection on the nature of this contribution and the relationship it establishes with this inhabitant.” *

Much of the discussion that took place during the jury meeting around the concept of “living places” had to do on how people really make spaces their own. This referred not so much to the material ideas behind architecture, which are also very important, but to how it actually becomes a trigger for different kinds of activities. We were not only judging the place but also the video: how architects express themselves through a different format or medium. The diversity of the jury members (who were not just architects) brought different approaches regarding how to recognise architectural qualities, including communication tools and how to empathise and reach different audiences. As a jury, we sought out proposals with a high level of architectural quality that could show this sense of “living the space” through a skilled piece of video to tell a story.

The winning projects in the Collective Places category are very different in terms of scale and program, but at the same time they share a profound sense of collectiveness, of living together in different ways. The Rehabilitation of a Homeless Shelter in Porto is a project based on the need to create an atmosphere of belonging and warmness that welcomes people without resources, giving them a decent space to start a new life. The architectural strategy is based on rehabilitating an old building and, with minimum changes, bringing out its inherent qualities and creating a space that feels like home. Two parallel stories are shown in the video: the stories of the people and of the building itself, with the voice of Mr. Laudolino in the background. We descend the restored grand staircase and tour the ceilings, empty bedrooms and bathrooms awaiting these temporary inhabitants. This sense of belonging to somewhere, along with a feeling of identity related to a part of a city, is shown in the video of the Square Street project, where delicate watercolour drawings combined with images and video are connected through a perfectly chosen Nina Rota song. This project deals with public space and its domestic appropriation. It features a series of small plazas that can be understood, like carpets, as exterior rooms of the pre-existing houses that the inhabitants can use and that show the constant flow of people coming and going throughout. This notion of public space capable of generating encounters is at the heart of the project called Agora in Olot, a small football facility building that creates the sense of enclosure: an envelope of protection before a peripheral industrial context that employs a very distinguished and subtle architecture. The simplicity and the honesty of the project is fully consistent with the way the video is presented: static shots accompanied with the sounds of the place, acting as a quiet testimony of the common living activity that takes place in this space during an ordinary day, from sunrise to sunset.

To a certain extent, in this category we find wide open spaces that are really small along with other places that are more programme-defined, so it is not just a matter of providing the space with possibilities by being ambiguous or opened-ended, but also that a specific programme can create a new one. An excellent example is the winner of the Collective Places category: the Teopanzolco Cultural Center in Mexico, an auditorium that uses simple materials and forms to create an unexpected public plaza on its roof that becomes a plus, a gift to the city, despite not being required by the initial programme. The client requested an auditorium and the architects answered with an open public space that creates an exceptional viewpoint for admiring the history of the place. In the authors’ words, “The emphasis on the relationship with the Teopanzolco archaeological site represents the greatest attempt to generate a collective place. This situation of visual and physical connection between the new Auditorium and the pre-Hispanic site deepens the community’s understanding of local history and culture”. The jury members appreciated the extraordinary achievement of implementing such a project in Mexico’s political, social and urban context (which differs markedly from the European one) and were won over by the smart way that the video suggests the interior of the building, opening the possibilities for viewers to imagine it.

This dichotomy between exterior and interior is shown in a different way in the video of the extension to the Kunstmuseum in Basel. Here the spectator is brought into an extraordinary inner realm where collective knowledge and culture are surrounded by texture and monumentality. A mix of the sounds of the place and enigmatic music, the soundtrack accompanies visitors as they flow through the generous inner space and the monumental staircase, fostering encounters.

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The jury focused on different issues in its discussions for the Personal Places category. Here there is a specific user, so it is more a matter of understanding who that person is, what his or her needs, aspirations, desires, etc. are, and how all this can be reflected in the space. Thus, it was not related so much to robust architectural design driven by the architect’s convictions as it was to reflecting the personality of the owner.

The House/Office in Canet de Mar works with the creation of spaces that establish the conditions for living and working at the same time, providing for transitional spaces for breaks, readings and music. The video uses a combination of various different techniques interconnected through the soundtrack as a sort of collage that is fully consistent with the use of different kinds of materials by the architects to achieve a comfortable indoor temperature through passive solutions. Entre Pinos, a group of houses located in Valle del Bravo, Mexico, is a project distinguished for how respectful and careful the architects were in implementing it in the middle of such a great and remarkable environment. This sensitivity is perfectly demonstrated throughout the video, which immerses viewers in the impressive natural surroundings, like the inhabitants in the houses themselves. The use of locally-recorded sounds connected the viewers to the building context, recreating its atmosphere. This strategy is also used in the Joao’s House video, where we are invited to enter Joao’s personal world through three simultaneous “windows”. Guided by Joao himself, we can make guesses about his personality and hobbies and appreciate how a former bakery has been carefully transformed into his home. This intention of communicating authenticity contrasts with the intended artificiality articulated in the video for the 097 · Yojigen Poketto project. In this case, the work is presented as a video game, with a main character performing different domestic tasks within an over customized space; an almost experimental housing project that explores the possibilities of how to inhabit a tiny studio apartment, a common situation in cities like Madrid.

The winner of the Personal Places category, the Real Estate Boom House project, pushes further into experimentation and turns a domestic interior refurbishment into an architectural critique. The jury appreciated the way in which the author creates many layers through a minimal intervention to offer a critique that considers the need to do less and actually proposes more by doing so. At the same time, the proposal talks about nostalgia, the possibilities of the space that already exists and the possibilities of real estate. The jury members were impressed with how the video perfectly embodies what “Living Places” means. Quoting the words of the author: “The architectural intervention in the Real Estate Boom House is an attempt to highlight how the generic housing typologies of the real estate bubble in Spain were turned by its users into Personal Places. To do so, the project interweaves tradition and modernity, notions of high and low technology, presence through objects and the physical absence of the family members… and how all these dichotomies configure daily life in the house”.

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Some of the most interesting discussions around the Personal Places category were not just about what was built, but also how architects are developing their discipline: not just by designing and building, but also by doing research or experiencing previously designed buildings like the project Aldo van Eyck. Le Musée Imaginaire, and how we analyse and think about them in a different way. The jury members wished to recognise this project above all other submissions with a Mention, despite the fact that it is does not comply with the rules* due to its non-material nature, in light of its remarkable sensitivity and the beauty of the audiovisual piece that combines different archive material and video techniques to express a sense of traces and memory, belonging and an unfinished atmosphere.

“Home as a process by those unpacking their ‘art of living’. A house is never finished. When still inhabited, it is under construction every day. Architecture is only created over time, when internalised by its inhabitants. Isn’t that precisely what Living Places, Personal Places, is all about?” **

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* Living Places – Simon Architecture Prize 2018 Rules

** Aldo van Eyck. le Musée Imaginaire

2020 edition

The international jury is made up of professionals from various disciplines. Their profiles are diverse, forming a transversal jury of European and Mexican origin, from the sectors of interior design, lighting design, architecture, audiovisuals, and including consolidated professionals and emerging talent.

The jury of the Living Places – Simon Architecture Prize 2020 met via videoconference on 22 and 23 October 2020 to debate on the participant works. Before starting these conversations, each member of the jury had reviewed the 140 submitted works on the third edition of the Prize: 79 for the Collective Places category and 61 for Personal Places. The jury considered all the proposals and reviewed the videos, drawings, photographs and briefs submitted by the participants.

2016 jury: Ilka Ruby (RubyPress, architect, Berlin), Carlos Ferrater (OAB, Doctor of Architecture, Barcelona), Camilla van Deurs (Gehl-Making Cities for People, architect, Copenhagen), Albert Moya (film director, Barcelona-New York), Salvi Plaja (director of design in Simon, Barcelona).

2018 jury: Davide Rapp (architect and video maker, Milan), Cecilia Tham (MOBMakers, Barcelona-Hong Kong), Ricardo Flores (Flores & Prats, Buenos Aires-Barcelona), Frida Escobedo (architecture workshop, Mexico), Salvi Plaja (director of design in Simon, Barcelona).

jury members

ANUPAMA KUNDOO
Architect

Chairwoman.
Kundoo is an Indian architect internationally known for her research and experimental work on materials and architecture with low environmental impact, which fits the socioeconomic context and is sustainable in all its aspects. She is one of the most prominent exponents of a new generation of architects concerned with habitat. Currently Professor at FH Potsdam she has taught previously in TU Berlin, AA School of Architecture London, Parsons New School of Design New York, University of Queensland Brisbane, IUAV Venice, ETSAB Barcelona and UCJC Madrid.

DEAN SKIRA
Lighting Designer

Skira is a Croatian lighting designer who has won important awards and has captured international media attention thanks to his lighting design projects, art installations and product design. He maintains that “the light is not for architecture but for the people who live in it”. Therefore, its lighting solutions, creative and efficient, revolve around how the user feels using space and experiencing architecture.

ANA LUISA SOARES
Architect

Soares is an architect trained in Porto and Tokyo and co-founder of Fala Atelier. This young architecture studio works with methodic optimism on a wide range of projects, from territories to birdhouses. This are a medley of formal languages, references, quotations, and themes, and the results are both hedonic and post-modern, intuitive and rhetorical. In addition, Ana Luisa is regularly invited as a teacher, guest critic or lecturer.

LOUISE LEMOINE
Filmmaker

Lemoine is a video-artist, producer and publisher based in Paris and partnered with Ila Bêka for the past 15 years. Their research focus on experimenting new narrative and cinematographic forms in relation to architecture and urban environment and more specifically on how the built environment shapes and influences our daily life. The New York Times presented them as “cult figures in the European architecture world”.

VICTOR JAIME
Architect

Jaime is a Mexican architect co-founder of Productora, which work is characterized by an emphasis on precise geometries, generating legible projects with clear gestures and the search for timeless buildings in their material and programmatic resolutions. Productora has stood out especially for the development of public projects that range from cultural centers to a temporary pavilion in Mexico City.

SALVI PLAJA
Industrial Designer

Plaja, design director of SIMON Holding, has an extense experience in the industrial design field. Under his leadership, SIMON has been widely awarded both in national and international contests including the Premios Nacionales de Diseño 2016 awarded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, the IF Gold Design Award, the Red Dot Awards, the Premios Delta, and the Premi Catalunya d’Ecodisseny 2015.

jury proceedings

The selection made in the Collective Places category gathers a diverse group of projects in terms of programme, scale and context. It is a complementary ensemble that addresses the notion of collectiveness through different spatial and architectural qualities. There is a place where children and teenagers can gather after school in a marginalized area, an urban garden reborn as a public focal point after an earthquake, a refined intervention within the historical urban fabric that brings openness to its urban life, a new public place that is given to citizens after the apparently ordinary task of repairing a party wall, and finally, a housing cooperative that allows shared collective domestic living within an urban environment.

The Boys and Girls Club embodies the ideal of architecture as social mediator, to provide a better quality of life and a decent future for those who have less. This project is a massive effort that takes place in the middle of an underprivileged neighbourhood, fostering community integration. Its multiple programmes involve many kinds of activities such as education, arts and sports, and are merged into a simple organic gesture. Using minimal resources, the project opens up a lot of possibilities for uses and creates a series of different spaces and places in which to be lived. It represents architecture that takes care of our society and tries to repair open wounds, such as the ones left after an earthquake in the Mexican town of Jojutla, which was completely destroyed. This is the story behind the Jojutla Central Gardens, a public space created as a memorial, giving it the opportunity to be reborn as a green landscape in the core of the city. The project was not only conceived as a garden; its flexibility could also allow it to work as a forum, a market at the weekend or simply as a pavilion in the main plaza. Its geometrical complexity explores, with traditional materials and construction techniques, a single gesture that displays a game of moving shapes that would work as shelter to hide from the intense sunrise. The video shows how plants, animals and people cohabitate harmoniously in this collective place.

The Department of Radio and Television University of Silesia is a very refined piece of architecture. It is a unique example, produced with a lot of care, that acts as a legacy for the future. There is refinement in the variety of spatial qualities that it provides: from spaces with a high level of intimacy, to big open areas that stimulate the communality of student life. It is a fragment that merges with the existing city and becomes an extension of the public space through its entrance and courtyard.

Refinement and sensibility in working with the existence of urban scenarios are features that the jury also considered in the winning work from the Collective Places category: Can Sau. Emergency Scenery. It presents a unique and memorable approach on how to regenerate old parts of the city; it is an example of how a single project can add considerable value to the urban space.  The project explores new programming and urban possibilities, encouraging the community to use public space for social activities. Its local materiality and construction system allow it to fit into the context, superimposing sustainability criteria and delivering great results with limited resources. The Jury really appreciated the clarity of this design intervention, a very refreshing approach to partly demolishing a building, enriched through geometry and the clarity of structural elements. They also particularly highlighted the simplicity and the accuracy of the lighting design: three globes in each of the arches that give a perfectly diffused, well distributed light. This makes it very easy for anyone to read it; not only the volume of the building but also its detail. Regarding the video, the members of the jury appreciated the use of simple elements and techniques to create a parallel narrative based on the three vaults that make up the project, and the involvement of the neighbours by acting on it as a type of participative action.

La Borda is a kind of a project that perfectly suits the ideal of collectiveness. Quoting some of the authors words: “It breaks with the classic scheme of a building as a result of the sum of individual units, to understand it as a single shared house where the boundary between the private space and the community is blurred.” The project enhances the interaction of its inhabitants through the creation and design of the common shared areas. The sustainability criterion is also one of the main pillars of the project, and the jury really appreciated this. The video effectively shows common living through precious scenes of communal life, scenes that are disappearing in today’s urban environment. Without the film, the jury would not be have been as able to feel the living aspect of the project itself.

The selection made in the Personal Places category turns around the domestic realm: three single houses rooted in their natural environments and two small interventions as new dwelling units within pre-existing urban buildings.

La Nave is a domestic appropriation of an existing industrial structure: a former printshop colonised to be lived in. By introducing new geometry made of brick and turned 45° with respect to the existing structure of concrete pillars, a new range of spatial possibilities unfolds. The existing façade is activated by creating a gallery that acts as a powerful illuminated space and the main shared space of the apartment. Through the use of colourful and detailed patterns on the new walls, the intervention introduces a human scale and a sense of domesticity to the different spaces. The video focuses on showing the uniqueness of the in-between space resulting from the introduction of the new structure and the old façade.

If La Nave proposes an interface for experimenting different ways of living by non-specific users, Casa Cruce is conceived for Bernat Lliteras, the owner, who is a unique human being with his own desires and tastes. He is the main character in the brilliant short film that shows this small but precise intervention that completely transforms the way that this area of the apartment is perceived and lived in. The project is therefore a good example of how a simple intervention can make a project very interesting. The jury took great pleasure in discovering the film: a really wonderful, witty, funny and well-done piece. There is an air of Wes Anderson in its spirit and aesthetics. The jury wanted to congratulate the filmmakers and the team for this great piece of work.

House in the Woods enables a unique way of living in contact with the natural environment: in between tree canopies. It creates the possibility of living in close and permanent contact with them, establishing a relationship that goes beyond contemplation. The sustainability aspects and concerns for the environment are reflected in how the construction touches the original place, with a minimal footprint. The video explores the relationship between different spaces and how they relate to the trees: around them, in between them, underneath them…

A Place to Perceive shares the same spirit as the House in the Woods in terms of respect and engagement with its exceptional environmental. The jury considered the project as a beautiful piece of landscape that merges with the trees on the top of the hill and becomes part of the scenario as a modest piece of architecture. The use of very basic materials and its construction system are linked in a very well detailed structure. The stable and house demonstrate a balance between horse and man, where an interesting game of scales matches up with topography.

The jury members decided to applaud Casa Ter as the winning project in the Personal Places category; a very beautiful project, which is subtle and delicate, and which conveys a real sense of harmony with the surrounding nature and landscape. The film actively contributes to portraying that feeling, creating a genuinely sensorial journey through the spaces. It allows us to get a real sense of the place in its both physical and atmospheric qualities. All the construction details, that are carefully imagined and very detailed in their thinking, are also very appropriate to the region, incorporating sustainability criteria. The relationship that the house establishes between the inside and outside is precisely and accurately thought and designed.

Special Mention

The jury decided to consider a Special Mention, to award the qualities of the filmmaking of the Institute for Molecular Sciences in Orsay in an effort to defend how much cinema can bring to the representation and to the knowledge of architecture; far from being just a tool of communication and promotion. The film is really beautiful, it is delicate and suggestive. It creates a certain captivating and surrealist atmosphere which evokes the mystery of scientific research, enclosed within long and silent corridors. The film is an achievement and the jury would like to congratulate the filmmakers and team.