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Architectural innovation awarded

A special award this year aimed to send a signal out to the younger generation

The sustainable apartments in LA (the white buildings bottom left) were among  winners
The sustainable apartments in LA (the white buildings bottom left) were among winners

Sustainable social housing apartments in Los Angeles, a mass transit mainline rail hub in Arnhem and an alternative water source in the Dorso/Omo Valley of Ethiopia are among the winners of the Zumtobel Group international architecture awards for 2017.


The international lighting group, whose brands include Thorn, Tridonic, Reiss and ZGS, invited entries in three categories: Buildings, Urban Developments & Initiatives and Applied Innovations. This year there was also a special award for Young Professionals.


The awards, which are in their fifth year, were curated once again by Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin and honour contemporary realised or conceptual works that make a significant contribution to greater humanity and sustainability in the built environment and its design.


“The Zumtobel Group Award emphasises the importance of architecture for human beings. Architecture determines how people feel in the built and urban space and how they live there. The Zumtobel Group Award addresses this topic and, just like our lighting solutions, places people in the centre of the living environment,” said Karin Zumtobel, head of arts & culture, Zumtobel Group.


A total of 347 projects from 48 countries on five continents were submitted for this year’s award. A first line jury reviewed the entries and submitted a smaller number to the main jury comprising leading figures from around the world of architecture, as well as experts in the new technologies. The jury then selected five projects per category as nominees and chose a winner from among them in each category.


The first prize in each of the three categories carries a purse of EUR 50,000. An additional purse of EUR 15,000 will be distributed for the Young Professional.


The winners for 2017 are:


Buildings category: Michael Maltzan Architecture, USA for the Star Apartments project in Los Angeles in which an existing single-floor commercial building was converted into a 95,000 square foot supportive housing facility within Los Angeles’ downtown core. Expanded to six storeys, the building provides 102 homes and support services for previously homeless individuals.


“Star Apartments has set a new standard for architecture within the field of social housing, social and environmental sustainability, as well as community and bottom-up processes,” wrote the jury in its statement.


Urban Developments & Initiatives category: UNStudio, Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, in the Netherlands for their master plan for Arnhem Central Station as a new mass transit and mainline rail hub designed for mixed use and to integrate public space.


“The impressive and unbending determination of Ben van Berkel and UNStudio to see Arnhem Central Station through a series of significant challenges all the way to completion is exemplary. The project demonstrates the necessity of continuous involvement and engagement for sustainable solutions,” stated the jury.


Applied Innovations category: Italian architect Arturo Vittori. Vittori impressed the jury with his Warka Water project which provides an alternative water source in the Dorso/Omo Valley region of Ethiopia. The project offers a potential solution to inadequate access to clean and secure water resources in rural regions of Africa.


“The strong innovative aspect of the Warka Water project lies in its independent use of archaic knowledge combined with deep understanding of needs and context. To achieve simple and functional solutions for comprehensive problems takes time and intense research,” the jury said.


Special award for Young Professionals: Atelier TeamMinus for its Jianamani Visitor Centre in Yushu, China. This modern visitor centre in Yushu engages closely with its historical Tibetan context by forging explicit links with the ancient local site intrinsic to Tibetan Buddhism.


“The Jianamani Visitor Center awakes hope for the future of architecture, defending the position that experimentation is not contradictory to contextual solutions,” stated the jury.


The 2017 jury comprised Klaus Daniels, HL-Technik Engineering GmbH; Elke Delugan-Meissl, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, Elizabeth Diller, Architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Elgar Fleisch, Professor of Information Management, Holger Hagge, Architect & Management Expert, Zhang Ke, Architect ZAO/standardarchitecture, Ulrich Schumacher, CEO Zumtobel Group and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen of Snøhetta Architects.


“In the space of 10 years the Zumtobel Group Award has become an established international competition,” said the curators Dr h c Kristin Feireiss and Hans-Jürgen Commerell from Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin. “The award puts the spotlight on the challenges posed by the design and development of current and future built environments, but that is not all.


"Because over the years we have continuously adapted the parameters of the award to the ever-expanding technological possibilities and increasingly digitised processes, enabling the resultant social interactions to be taken into account as the winners are selected.”


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