The building at Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley, by local architecture firm Savage + Dodd Architects was among the projects shortlisted for the recent 2019 International Urban Project Award held recently at the BAU Congress China in Shanghai. Also shortlisted was Drivelines Studios in Maboneng, Johannesburg, designed by New York-based architecture studio LOT-EK.
The International Project Award, advanced by WA magazine from Bejing and Bauwelt magazine from Berlin, is aimed towards initiating debate on the value of architecture in stimulating evolution of architecture and urban environments within various models of urban context from around the world. As stated in the IUPA competition notice placed on the BAU China 2019 digital notice board, “The main criterion for the selected projects is that they are truly outstanding for the further development of architecture and urban design in an international discourse.” All entries were comprised of realised projects that were not older the 5 years.
The first prize was awarded to the Helsinki Central Library Oodi by ALA Architects. With special prizes awarded to the Shed in New York by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Nantou Old Town Preservation and Regeneration in Shenzen by Urbanus.
The jury had the following to say about their decision: “The jury believed unanimously that both ‘The Shed’ and ‘Nantou’ are outstanding design experimentations, fitting into their respective social and urban context. The Library in Helsinki, however, pertains the original intention of the IUPA: a common public facility at a common scale, built in a generic urban context – but with design excellence that brings new meanings to the daily public life.”
A presentation of all award-winning projects, as well as commended entries, was held in November 2019.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Extracted from the ALA Architects website: “The design grows from the dynamic between the site and the goals of the library program. The key concept is the interplay between the building’s three individual floors.
“The public plaza in front of the building continues inside the building, merging with a catalogue of meeting and experience features. The ground floor is a robust, busy and frequently updated space suitable for quick visits and walkthroughs. The active, zero-threshold public spaces are visible, attractive, understandable and welcoming to all visitors.
“The traditional, serene library atmosphere can be found on the top floor. This is a calm and contemplative area floating above the busy central Helsinki. It offers unobstructed, majestic views to the surrounding park and cityscape.
These two contrasting spaces that perfectly complement each other are created by an arching wooden volume. The spaces inside the volume are enclosed and more intimate. The wooden volume is stretched vertically to create connections to the open main floors below and above.”
Location: New York, United States
Extracted from the Diller Scofidio + Renfro website: “The Shed is a nonprofit cultural organization that commissions, develops, and presents original works of art, across all disciplines, for all audiences. The Shed’s Bloomberg Building—an innovative 200,000-square-foot (18,500 m²) structure can physically transform to support artists’ most ambitious ideas.
“The Shed’s eight-level base building includes two levels of gallery space; the versatile Griffin Theater; and The Tisch Skylights, which comprise a rehearsal space, a creative lab for local artists, and a skylit event space. The McCourt, an iconic space for large-scale performances, installations, and events, is formed when The Shed’s telescoping outer shell is deployed from over the base building and glides along rails onto the adjoining plaza.
“When deployed, the Shed’s shell creates a 17,200-square-foot light-, sound-, and temperature-controlled hall that can serve an infinite variety of uses. The hall can accommodate an audience of 1,200 seated or 2,700 standing; flexible overlap space in the two adjoining galleries of the base building allows for an expanded audience in the hall of up to 3,000. The shell’s entire ceiling operates as an occupiable theatrical deck with rigging and structural capacity throughout. Large operable doors on the Plaza level allow for engagement with the public areas to the east and north when open.
“When the Shed’s shell is nested over the base building, the 19,500-square-foot plaza will be open public space that can be used for outdoor programming; the eastern façade can serve as a backdrop for projection with lighting and sound support. The Plaza is equipped with distributed power supply for outdoor functions.”
Location: Nantou Old Town, Shenzhen
Project extents: 38 150 m² in total
Extracted from the Urbanus website: “Based on the preliminary study on Nantou, Urbanus proposed a development model of introducing cultural events, preservation, intervention and regeneration. Adapted to local conditions, we drafted six tailor-made regeneration plans which can be implemented at a later time: Parks and Gardens Revival Plan, City Boundary Redefinition Plan, Historical Building Preservation Plan, Main Street Navigation Plan, Creative Factory Plan and Inner City Dynamic Regeneration Plan. These projects mainly focus on the renovation of key public spaces and the introduction of public activities as part of the process of activating and promoting the regeneration of the Old Town. Later on, after sufficient field investigation, urban design and research work, we came up with the idea to propose Nantou as the main venue of 2017 UABB in the biennale venue selection process.
“After consensus was made on the venue, further field surveys and research into Nantou’s history helped us to find a narrative line on which spatial renovation and the exhibition implementation could highly coincide. A series of renovations along with this narrative line will, with most effective interventions, have minimum interference with the daily life of local residents. They will improve the public space quality of the Old Town to a maximum effect, while leaving enough room for future development.
“The Nantou Old Town is located to the north of Shennan Avenue and south of Zhongshan Park. Built along a gentle slope, the Old Town used to be guarded by four gates in four directions. The northern gate was abandoned in the middle of the Qing Dynasty, and the northern street in the traditional county town’s “Cross Roads” pattern lost its vitality ever since. Zhongshan Park to the north of the Old Town was the earliest public park in Shenzhen. It was built during the Republican era of China and features old, towering trees that attract many visitors. The wall surrounding the factory area constructed in the 1980s separated the park from the Old Town. We decided to reconfigure this critical node by extending South Zhongshan Street northward, restoring the traditional “Cross Roads” pattern and reconnecting Zhongshan Park, the Old Town and the Park outside the south gate. This step of spatial restructuring will be the starting point of future old town regeneration, beginning with a series of exhibition venues for the UABB, which will be rolled out along this main spine.
“Following the urban design strategy of preservation and regeneration while locating exhibition spaces for UABB, we sought to reconstruct a public open space system in Nantou. Serving as an exhibition route, this system consists of both architectural spaces and outdoor venues. The exhibition venues are in five zones from north to south and extending out toward east and west: A. Factory Zone, B. Cross Road Zone, C. Southern Gate Zone, D. Historic Buildings Zone, and Chunjing Street Zone. The whole exhibition spatial narrative is formed with the following seven interlocking themes, like the structure of Chinese literature or drama.”
SHORTLISTED SOUTH AFRICAN PROJECTS:
Sol Plaatje University, located in Kimberley in the Northern Cape is one of two new universities to be set up in post-Apartheid South Africa. The university has been designed as open campus integrated into the fabric of the town. It is seen as a catalytic urban regeneration project – the city itself becomes the university and the university the city. As one of the first buildings within the first precinct, this building needed to set the parameters for the urban footprint of the university in response to the urban design framework.
The Architects explored a design narrative that began by imagining the spaces of a new contemporary university space through a series of imagined users and new university hybrid typologies that contain a mix of uses, integrating both formal and informal social spaces into a multi-functional Precinct.
The Moroka Halls of Residence is a multi-purpose building that faces onto an urban public square and together with the adjoining building wraps around private internal courtyards.
It consists of three distinct parts which relate to the placement of the building onto the site, and articulate different uses. The Building comprises a 174 room residence, a Dining Hall and Kitchen, Teaching Venues, Academic Offices and ground floor retail space behind a colonnade onto the square.
The Northern Cape has a dry arid landscape with a desert climate of extremely hot summers and bitingly cold winter days. The design narrative wove together a building language inspired by
informants within the landscape that responded to the environmental requirements of this harsh environment.
The building is entered through a portico echoing the historic mining structures into an entrance that leads on a large open verandah space. The verandah becomes a super element that provides deep cool shaded space facing the internal courtyard and is used as the primary structuring element of the building. It provides a large scale deep circulation space at the scale of an outside room leading from the entrance portico separating the two components of the complex into the internal courtyard. This space is a spill out space, a circulation space and space from which to address the courtyard.
Direct sunlight onto the verandah is screened by a dynamic wind driven shading screen. The effect is a continually changing dappled coloured shadow as the sun moves across the courtyard. When the wind picks up the screen ripples creating a dynamic façade
Drivelines Studios – LOT-EK
Location: Maboneng, Johannesburg
Gross Floor Area: 75 000 ft²
Extracted from the LOT-EK website: “LOT-EK was commissioned by Propertuity to design a live-work building with ground floor retail in the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg. As a leader in urban regeneration, over the past few years Propertuity has single-handedly transformed the heart of the Maboneng precinct into a vital hub of leisure, cultural and commercial life. Our building introduces also housing in this urban mix.
“The massing – entirely made of upcycled ISO shipping containers – is organized in a V generating a triangular open yard with swimming pool and sundeck.
All residential units are studio apartments varying in size between 40 and 60 square meters and include a private outdoor space along the walkways that look into the yard on all floors.”