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Architecture for Humanity announce Open Architecture Challenge winners

Finalists on display at Venice Biennale

This year Architecture for Humanity’s biannual Open Architecture Challenge, [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS, addressed the theme of recovery of abandoned military sites. Entrants were briefed to reclaim decommissioned spaces in their own back yard for social, economic and environmental good.

The competition attracted 510 teams from 74 countries, from which 13 finalists were selected. The winning entry was from a young Portuguese architecture collective, with a project entitled OCO - Ocean&Coastline Observatory, a proposal to reassign the Trafaria defense batteries outside Lisbon.

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OCO - Ocean&Coastline Observatory

Judging was based on five criteria: community impact, contextual appropriateness, ecological footprint, economic viability, and design quality.

The 33-strong international jury included only one member from the UK: Paul Jenkins, professor at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. UK entrant Mick Scott reached the final four by winning the Political Response category, with his Alter your native Belfast//Alternative Belfast project proposing a ‘Plat-Forum’, neutral space aiming to erode religious separation in the city.

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Alter your native Belfast//Alternative Belfast

The Environmental Impact category was won by student Emi Bryan for her proposal for creating Humboldthain Food Cooperative in a disused air raid bunker in Berlin.

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Humboldthain Flak Tower Conversion - Berlin air raid bunker transformed into food co-operative

T. Luke Young, competition co-ordinator said: ‘The turnout and production for this Challenge were incredible. This is the most geographically diverse response we’ve had to an Open Architecture Challenge, a fact made more interesting considering the complexity of the project’.

All 13 finalists will now exhibit at the Venice Biennale from August 29 to November 25. A 10 square metre space at the Palazzo Bembo will be transformed into a military bunker to house the exhibition.

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