• World Architecture Festival showcases world-class architecture and interiors

    6 November 2013

    The prestigious World Architecture Festival gathered 2100 delegates from 68 countries providing the platform for three event filled days in Singapore early October, with a large and very diverse array of lectures, presentations, critiques and exhibition displays.

    Selcuk Ecza HQThe Festival culminated in an extensive awards’ ceremony, in which best in class buildings and projects were honoured with awards in 29 different categories. The many projects displayed for the competitions represented an impressive range of innovative designs and solutions across the world, which stood as a testament to architectural creativity and capability.

    The World Architecture Festival in Singapore took place 2 – 4 October at the Marina Bay Sands Expo.  It was the 2nd time the conference was held in Singapore, and it was successfully delivered with interesting new perspectives and comprehensive coverage of building and interior design innovations and applications.

    Women's Opportunity Centre - Sharon Davis DesignThe Festival dates back to 2008, but the latest addition, ‘INSIDE’, was only initiated in Barcelona in 2011, and this time round in Singapore, the INSIDE program had been fully integrated with the rest of the Festival venue.

    This added a distinctively new flavour to the Festival, with INSIDE’s own stage, hosting talks and presentations on specific aspects of interiors, and quite appropriately with its own awards competition too. Perhaps only fair as interior design projects may have found it a little hard to compete against the larger building designs in the past!

    Sydney Cruise TerminalThe Festival area included three large conference areas turned into combined awards competition displays, exhibition and sponsor stands as well as café and relaxation areas. Plenty of space to browse and relax in between talks and presentations.

    There were alltogether three presentation stages, with the emphasis on the main Auditorium, representing the ‘bigger’ value discussions, and the Festival Hall stage showcasing the more detailed values and hands-on design topics, whereas the INSIDE stage strictly covered interiors and the associated values.

    Meditation houseIn additon there were a large number of presentations for the shortlisted projects in smaller and more intimate conference venues, covering an astoningingly large number of 29 different awards categories, spanning from Office, Housing and Leisure, to Sport, Health, Culture and Religion. Even Transport and Production had their own categories.

    Both the Festival Auditorium and the Festival Stage embraced the theme of ‘values’, with titles such as ‘The Value of Art and Architeture’ to the much more tangible: ‘Product Values: New Materials Update’. This represented a good variation of topics, and when added with INSIDE’s perspective too, there were plenty of interesting talks to attend. However, some of the more ‘grandiose’ titles were not always met by equally grand presentations or findings, and it is a little disappointing when a presenter chooses to focus on his or her own projects without actually addressing the topic in much depth, but instead skirting over the proposed value proposition.

    Statoil Regional and International Office - a-labThough having said that, there were plenty of competent speakers and interesting topics to attend, and it was often a case of making some hard choices which ones to attend, as there were so many going on simultanously.

    Emporia - Wingardh Arkitktkontor ABAt the end of the three packed days, the Festival judges spectacularly wrapped up the event with their awards to projects and buildings in the many categories. The 69 judges themselves represented a plethora of insights and experience from academics to practitioners, and a wide geographical spread.

    The main award went to the stunning Auckland Art Gallery ‘Toi o Tamaki’ by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp in collaboration with Archimedia, representing the ‘World Building of the Year’ – the top honour of the Festival!  This new gallery is an extensive public project that includes restoration and adaptation of heritage buildings, with new building extensions and the redesign of the adjacent Albert Park.

    Singapore Sports Hub - AECOM, Arup and DP ArchitectsWAF Director, Paul Finch, said, “The winning project transcended category types. You could say it is about new and old, or civic and community, or display. It contrasts the manmade and the natural, and the relationship between art and science. This is a major design achievement in a seismic zone, providing an example of design pragmatism and a careful reworking which does no more that it needs to until it is required. Balancing many different elements, the resulting design is a rich complex of built ideas”

    Other remarkable projects were awarded, amongst these Denmark’s new National Aquarium, designed by 3XN, which won the Display Award. The aquarium, named The Blue Planet,  is shaped as a great whirlpool, and the building itself thereby signals what awaits inside. The judges were delighted by the entrance experience: “It deals successfully with the site and finds opportunity where there is little context, as well as overcoming significant engineering and technical challenges.”

    Text: Niels Kemp Rasmussen

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