From 4th – 6th November 2015 the world largest celebration of architecture and design took place at Marina Sands Bay, Singapore. The World Architecture Festival gathered more than 2000 architects from sixty countries to learn, exchange and inspire and it was also the location of the biggest architectural awards programme in the calendar, dedicated to recognizing excellence via live presentations to both delegates and international juries. Also coinciding with the event was INSIDE – World Festival of Interiors, which celebrates developments in interior design and awards the finest examples of the year for their innovations and contributions to the industry.
Returning to Singapore for the fourth year, this year’s festival took place amongst a backdrop of political uncertainty across the globe, something Programme Director Paul Finch commented on in his introduction. Stating that he at times finds it remarkable that anyone still has confidence in architecture and constructions during such turmoil, he explains this is why Singapore was again chosen to host the festival as 2015 marks the country’s 50th year of independence where in 1965 it begin a journey to nationhood predicated on physical construction, forming the bustling metropolis it is today.
The festival showcased 338 shortlisted projects across 31 categories ranging from residential homes to landscape projects and all forms of architecture in between. The eighth annual World Architecture Festival saw a substantial increase in entry numbers clearly demonstrating the economic upturn in development and construction in the last year and three key countries stood out with the largest number of shortlisted entries. Australia boasted the largest nominations followed by the UK then Turkey, all of which have seen significant economic and social resurgence in recent years.
Whilst battling it out to win their categories, the 338 shortlisted projects were also in the running for the overall top accolades of which the highest achievement is the World Building of the Year Award followed by Future Project of the Year, Landscape of the Year and Small Project of the Year. Winning this year’s World Building of the Year Award is The Interlace by OMA/Buro Ole Scheeren, a vertical village in the heart of the hosting country. One of the most ambitious residential developments in Singapore’s history, The Interlace is a network of social and living spaces fused with the natural environment. A far cry from the typical housing in the region of isolated tower clusters, it consists of 31 apartment blocks each 70 meters long and six stories tall stacked in hexagonal arrangements around eight open courtyards. The result is a multitude of shared and private outdoor spaces on multiple levels throughout the development, linking industrial and environmental elements.
Vancouver House, Canada by BIG (Bjarke Ingells Group) took home the Future Project of the Year Award which negotiates a difficult spot in the city trisected by an overpass. Resembling a curtain being drawn aside to welcome newcomers to the city, it creates desirable living spaces at the top leaving room for public spaces at the base. Demonstrating exemplary urban typology mitigating the destructive impact of the highway flyover, judges felt it created an opportunity for typically wasted public space which will impact positively on future projects across the globe. Landscape of the Year was awarded to Yanweizhou Park in China by Turenscape International, which displays a resilient and importantly replicable ecological solution to large-scale flooding management. At the mouth of three 100 meter wide rivers, the project uses never before seen strategy to form a water resilient terraced river embankment full of adaptive native vegetation with integrated paths and pavilions which can adapt to seasonal flooding in the area.
The Small Project of the Year Award recipient was named by the judges a ‘heroic result’. Awarded to Lidingövallen, a Swedish football stadium in miniature by DinellJohansson, the project was praised for demonstrating the big impact possible with a small project and for its imaginative response to the space. INSIDE – the World Festival of Interiors which ran alongside WAF offered its own awards list including nine categories in total with Hotel Hotel, in Canberra Australia receiving the prestigious World Interior of the Year Award. Described as a ‘masterful integration of different spaces into a seamless and delightful interior’ by the judges, Hotel Hotel is located in NewActon, a diverse new precinct in the city and is part of a wider development encompassing offices, residences, cafes and a cinema. Created by March Studio, the key design element of the hotel is the fragmented lobby entrance lined with timber pieces to create a tunnelling effect.