24.08.2013 Florian Maier

LEAF Awards 2013: Marsan Mediatheque in France is Overall Winner

17 winning projects and five special commendations were announced at the LEAF Awards ceremony on 20 September 2013 in London. For the first time, there also was a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Overall Winner & Public Building of the Year – Culture
archi5, Marsan Mediatheque, Mont de Marsan, France
The Mont-de-Marzan media library designed by archi5 is a beautiful achievement, technically very strong and a highly credible, uplifting cultural symbol for the city, clearly supported by the painstaking and sensitive peripheral vision on the part of the architects. Designed as a covered square at the centre of an austere quadrangle of former barracks (today the Public Record Office), by making its facades transparent, this generously designed building meets the full the technical challenges the architects defined, for example, small sections in such a big span. Instead of the easy option of an overbearing design language, the building engages with its wider environment and with its users of all ages by hybrid means. There is a clean envelope of geometric lines, while the classical architectural layout is in the interior offset as a system by non-orthogonal lines more akin to nature, and the structural opening of one corner to Marzan’s urban context.
The contoured lightwell is highly versatile for readers, who can easily navigate the buildings’ clear interior spaces, and the relationship between the architecture and the furniture design and fittings is excellently judged, with the services given high priority, as we would expect. The architectural design is also very strong when read from above, not always a consideration in architecture, and also around its facades due to the extension of a planted roof that makes the building appear to hover above the ground. We regard the library as one of the very finest public buildings across the globe we have seen in recent years, one we expect will be long-lasting, a much loved asset and source of optimism for the city.
Mixed-Use Building of the Year
Steven Holl Architects, Sliced Porossity Block - CapitaLand Raffles City, Chengdu, China
Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy)
Yasuhiro Yamashita and Atelier Tekuto, Boundary House, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
This scheme for the new Raffles City district in the fast developing city of Chengdu is a hybrid of different functions. Its geometry results from required minimum daylight exposure to the surrounding urban fabric prescribed by code and calculated by the precise geometry of sun angles. The large public space framed by the block is formed into three valleys inspired by a 7th century poem of Du Fu. In some of the porous openings parts different buildings are inserted. The judges approved of the architects’ bold yet discerning design strategy coupled with a mature micro-urban plan for a new terrain of public space in the form of an urban terrace on the metropolitan scale of Rockefeller Center, sculpted by stone steps and ramps with large pools that spill into stepped fountains. Trees, plantings, benches and roof gardens are positioned close to cafes.
The design aims to be a sustainable role model, and responds very well to the need to achieve new levels of green construction in Chengdu, with a complex that is heated and cooled geothermally by 400 wells. The large podium ponds harvest recycled rainwater with natural grasses and lily pads creating a cooling effect.
Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy)
studiomk27, MM House, Sao Paulo, Brazil
This is a beautiful, interesting, extremely well judged, low tech house design for a site in Braganca Paulista, a wooded municipality of São Paulo made up of two perpendicular rectangular footprints. On the east/west axis is a reinforced concrete shell resembling an extruded version of the iconographic house, complete with a green roof that roots it discretely into the green hilly landscape. Here the interior functions are arranged in a linear fashion with a sequence of spaces from the garage and entry to the master suite at the other end. A screen of retractable, slender wooden slats wraps the entire envelope along the exterior glass wall to soften direct sunlight, and can be fully opened to the exterior. All the bedrooms are positioned along the eastern elevation facing down the valley, with the housekeepers’ quarters and social spaces along the opposite side, separated by a long linear hallway.
In yet another wise design decision, at the point where this solid mass intersects with the perpendicular wooden deck, the programme is neither indoor nor outdoor, allowing for a barbeque, bar and lounge area under the pitched roof, but entirely open to the elements, while the public living room and tv room flanking this space contain large glass doors that visually, if not spatially, connect the two. The timber terrace extends out towards the lower area of the site, ending in a swimming pool hoistedupon a concrete plinth that reflects thepicturesque environment.
Residential Building of the Year (Multiple Occupancy)
Shinichiro Iwata, M-apartment, Chiba, Japan
A project which successfully reinvents density in a residential setting, M-apartment is more than only a apartment, being a composition of eight rooms, small gardens and two small shops. Looking like several small houses, the shapes of the small dwelling units are complex and different, and the versatile language and strategy behind this scheme has clearly enhanced the quality of its setting.
Commercial Building of the Year
WSP Architects, Hangzhou Alipay Building, Hangzhou, China
This is an exceptional office building, layered in form, that creatively addresses the challenge of the inherent difference between public and private spaces. The main buildings are set back 30 metres from the street, creating the first layer providing public urban access as well as an interface to the architecture. The second layer of public engagement is defined by two slab towers and a podium, forming an L-shaped enclosure that denotes a clear, but porous, boundary between the public and private. The double glass skin is not only visually effective, but acts as a thermal buffer and ventilation path, enabling a regulated micro-climate. In a further deft touch, the courtyard design draws on traditional Chinese garden design, while employing modern, abstract landscaping.
The building’s 8.4-metre structural grid with cantilevers on all four sides provides two 21-metre-wide slab towers, each with a lower energy consumption, while the highly standardised module system helped to speed up the construction and reduce costs, while also achieving visual simplicity and unity. All in all, the Alipay building represents a refined and contemporary Chinese architectural identity.
International Interior Design Award
Studio Seilern Architects, Lauenen Residence, Lauenen, Switzerland
This ingenious scheme, situated in Lauenen, a small Swiss village 7km from the ski resort of Gstaad, involved a masterplan for the location of 2500m2 of residential units and a garage, and the redesign of the middle of the three chalets, bringing a contemporary language to a traditional, chalet building type. 2 distinct apartments have been created out of one chalet by splitting it into 2 interlocking L-shapes. They each share one common entrance, and with the further removal of one non-structural wall, the 2 apartments can be reconfigured into one large residence with minimal reconstruction.
While all the materials, including concrete and wood, are kept in their rawest form, the interior spaces, the overall appearance is atmospheric, welcoming and innovative. The architects successfully expand the available space, in spite of planning restrictions and the slope of the site, by introducing an additional sub-level with a large glazed opening cut into the slope, as well as large, open-plan living areas with triple ceiling heights. The two lower-level bedroom are configured so that at a later stage, these can be easily transformed into a swimming pool. All in all, a masterly adaptive and innovative design for a living space.
Refurbishment of the Year
Ector Hoogstad Architecten, MetaForum at Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
A type of job that we will see increasingly often in the future: the renovation or even restoration of existing buildings, often to make them suitable for new purposes, combined with newbuild, this complex scheme transforms in a confident fashion the historic W-hal, one of the oldest buildings on the site, into a modern, new main building accommodating the university library, lecture halls, catering facilities, service desks, offices and lots of space to study.
Part of the hall has been converted into a spectacular, indoor events plaza, forming the centrepiece of the revamped overall campus design that is currently being executed. The project also encompasses a large new-build section: new premises for the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science built on top of the hall. This is a extremely well judged and assembled project with a strong focus on sustainability through specific strategies, going well beyond the fact that building reuse is in itself sustainable.
Public Building of the Year – Culture
Henning Larsen Architects and Batteriid Architects, Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland
The artist and collaborator on this project Olafur Eliasson recently observed that ‘there is a need in Iceland to assemble under a common roof’. This drove the project’s initial aspirations, and this stunning community building both dramatically transforms and revitalises the harbour and brings the city and the harbour closer together. Its crystalline structure inspired by Icelandic landscapes and traditions reflects in its façade created by Eliasson the light from the city, the ocean and the sky in a fascinating way. The modeling of the quasi-brick was inspired by the geometry of semi-crystals and by the concept of five-fold symmetry, and the interaction with the light, a number of the quasi-bricks were filled with a special dichromatic glass that each reflect hues of either green, yellow or orange and their complementary colours.
The building was still in progress when the economic crisis hit and its financial backer went bankrupt, but the Icelandic government bravely decided to invest in it because literature, culture and music are sectors they want to support. The 28.000 m2 concert hall comprises four music and conference halls that will be a huge asset. The project’s consummate sense of Icelandic identity permeates every aspect of the building, which is also an exceptional example of the incorporation of an artist in the team work of a project at a early stage.
Public Building of the Year - Transport & Infrastructure
Oscar Tusquets Blanca and M. N. Metropolitana di Napoli Spa, Toledo Metro Station, Napoli, Italy
Impressive public transport scheme – a veritable gem, in fact – that is part of of Naples’ Art Projects programme aimed at increasing visitor numbers in this location on one of the city’s main shopping streets, for which Oscar Tusquets Blanca commissioned a number of noted artists, designers and architects to create a design on the theme of water and light on mosaic-covered walls covered. He also designed the public squares above the two Metro entrances. The sense of occasion, described by one visitor as a ‘fluid, floating dream’ as one descends to the great lobby, is unforgettable. The judges admired this discerning use of public money, enhancing an everyday urban facility for the enjoyment of all who travel through it.
Public Building of the Year – Education & Research
Henning Larsen Architects, Campus Roskilde, Roskilde, Denmark
The judges admired the fulfillment through design of a strongly communal programme: four square buildings, slightly rotated towards each other to screen the area from the motorway, create a more intimate, varied space around the campus square, forging a new meeting place is  between the urban quarter of Trekroner and the green areas around Roskilde University. Under the overhang of the main building, a roofed square opens up to the rest of the campus area and create life and a sense of community among the students. We also appreciated the fact that the project’s significant green profile for its displaced buildings help to optimise the energy consumption and make the campus adaptable to possible extensions in the future.
Public Building of the Year – Sport
archi5, Leo Lagrange Stadium, Toulon, France
On a site with limited space but limitless views of the sea, the design of the new Stadium complements and enhances perception of the local landscape, at the same time emphasising the highly visible quality of a public facility and its centrality as a gathering point and meeting place. It provides a breathing space in a relatively dense fabric, a public sphere in harmony with its location. A complex offering sporting and other recreational activities, it containing three regional rugby and football pitches, international athletics and six school playing fields. We also enjoyed the belvedere-like walkway, like a ship’s landing stage rising up, and treatment of the vast membrane roof.
Best Sustainable Development (Environmental)
SKEW Collaborative, Chinese Academy of Sciences IOT Center, Jiading District, Shanghai
Sustainability can be achieved by various means, and is optimally an integrative process. This project is very creative in its reuse, with great attention to the natural landscape. The site for this new exhibition center and laboratories was the former 1962 Soviet-designed low-density office cluster sitting amongst a heavily wooded compound. The design successfully minimizes the carbon footprint of new construction by retaining as much of the existing fabric, with selective demolition and reconstruction. A double skin and a new fenestration system were developed in order to rationalize and produce new envelopes suitable for the new programs and the environment.

The newly configured complex’s series of intimate courtyards weaves new architecture throughout mature trees and existing building structures, while new laboratories, offices and exhibition spaces are organized around courtyards and terraces on two to three levels, each with views and access to the natural environment.
The strategic insertions of new forms and voids within the structural framework of the original complex, and the dialogue between the new and the old is highly effective: it enhances daylight access and natural ventilation, and deploys the landscape of mature camphor and pine trees most imaginatively.
Best Sustainable Development (Social)
Kaunitz Yeung Architecture, Takara Demonstration School, Takara, Efate Island, Vanutau
A prototype constructed entirely by the local community, this building is a credible hybrid alternative to the standard existing archetype concrete buildings, which are costly and time consuming to build and difficult to repair following the regular earthquakes and cyclones affecting Vanuatu. It demonstrates an intelligent use of local materials and labour while meeting western construction standards. Instead of materials that are costly to transport, the design is centred around a locally sourced timber portal frame comprises the main structure, which takes its cues from the local vernacular, articulating posts and using scissor trusses and is strong and durable.
The judges applaud the decisions made for the project, which have the benefit of ensuring the community possesses the skills to maintain the building and carry out repairs post disaster. The design is a most desirable departure from the current situation where a high level of centralised assistance is required to repair concrete classrooms.
Best Sustainable Development (Social)
Yasuhiro Yamashita and Atelier Tekuto, Emergency Supply Warehouse, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
This is an excellent disaster restoration project by the architect, further inspirational evidence of his longstanding mission to explore new possibilities of local materials in collaboration with local governments, universities, communities and local businesses and to use design to help give support to environmentally sound communities in a sustainable manner. The architect Yashuhiro Yamashita, founder of Atelier Tekuto, has founded two bodies in Japan since 1997 dedicated to support post-disaster reconstruction projects, offer good quality houses with low construction cost efficiently, and a collaborative network to support community planning and revitalization and various cultural activities.
Best Future Building - Residential (Drawing Board)
Yasuhiro Yamashita + Kenji Mizukami + Ben Matsuno / TeMaLi Architect, Post-Disaster Public Housing in the city of Kamaishi, Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture
This scheme led by Yashuhiro Yamashita of Atelier Tekuto, as with many of his other projects, uses architecture with great competence as a medium examining the potential of means beyond rational efficiency, in favour of local materials, cultures and traditions. With 15 years’ experience in disaster recovery, the development of architectural technology for earthquake-prone regions has been a strong priority, and this scheme prioritises the potential of materials which are both environmentally friendly and immune to shifting economic conditions.
Urban Design Award
MZ Architects, Valley City – Qatar
A beautiful mixed-use, urban design project for the Gulf, challenging the approach of a traditional masterplan. Avoiding this usual plenitude of glass towers, it offers a a grid constructed perpendicular to the hot desert winds, and urban ‘fingers’ that connect to an open green heart. Based on chaos theory and an understanding of existing vernacular morphologies and social structures of Qatari cities, it manages to be a highly convincing regenerative scheme, established with high sustainable standards.
Lifetime Achievement Award
This is a new award that recognizes a person for service to the architectural community and their body of work. Sir Peter Hall

Special Award
Sellar Property Group, Architect: Renzo Piano, The Shard, London, UK The Shard, by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, completed after London’s triumph as host of the Olympics, and inaugurated with an evening light show of lasers and searchlights, is a welcome and inspiring addition to London’s fast changing skyline. It shifts the city’s focus to include south of the Thames, and well deserves its status of cultural landmark. In this age of ever higher, and all too often somewhat bland, skyscrapers in cities around the world, the 306m Shard, currently the tallest building in Western Europe, has set a new benchmark in standards of tall buildings, and introduced a globally recognizable language of architecture in a context of contemporary and historic urban fabric from a myriad of eras. It sits well in its urban context and sets up a fine visual relationship with all other spired and tipped structures across London.
On the prominent site of London Bridge, a major transport hub that is part of its transformative design, the building avoids the syndrome of the gratuitous ‘funny shape’ with its slender, elegantly defined verticality and glass-clad spire. This is a structure of steel and glass around a reinforced concrete core that is confidently and maturely designed rather than futuristic, a design that in drawing section, and in reality, spells ingenuity and flair in the creation of space, for example, the mid-level piazza. Piano deliberately inclined the facades so that they reflect the ever changing complexion of the London skies, and has most successfully created the atmospheric building he intended. At times the delicacy of the glass cladding appears pleasingly like that of light veils, while inside high ceilings and full glazing afford a luxurious array of vistas. The design houses 72 habitable floors, apartments, offices, a hotel, restaurants and a viewing platform at the top affording grand and magically new perspectives of the city of which it is part. The judges wish to applaud and celebrate the endeavours of all concerned in the conception, design, financing, development, realization and management of the Shard, a consummate, enthralling and highly popular work of contemporary architecture created in the first part of the 21st century.
Special commendations were awarded to:
  • Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy): Adam Knibb Architects, Bluebell Pool House, Crawley, Winchester UK
  • Best Sustainable Development (Environmental): Make Architects, The Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire UK
  • Best Sustainable Development (Environmental): Wilkinson Eyre Architects, The Crystal, London, UK
  • Best Sustainable Development (Social): Virai Arquitectos, Institutional Winery “La Grajera”, Logrono in La Rioja, Spain
  • Best Future Building – Culture/Education (Drawing Board): scape, MEIS - Museo dell'Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah, Ferrara, Italy

More jury statements on www.arena-international.com DETAIL report about the LEAF Awards 2012 Winners
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