In the same week that Daniel Libeskind described the redevelopment of Berlin as 'mediocrity on a mega scale', the RIBA has picked two buildings from the German capital to contend for this year's Stirling Prize.
The RIBA judges selected the GSW headquarters by Sauerbruch Hutton Architects and Richard Rogers Partnership's Daimler Chrysler building to be among the European Union buildings that will be battling for British architecture's top award this November.
Dublin's Millennium Bridge at Wellington Quay by Howley Harrington Architects, and Trootsplein, a social housing project in the Hague by Martin Richardson Architect were also chosen by the expert panel of architects:
Stephen Hodder; David Levitt; Joanna van Heyningen; and RIBA awards chief Tony Chapman. But the judges'praise for Berlin's new architecture contrasted strongly with Libeskind's latest views that the city is being filled with 'boring streets, boring facades, granite and small windows'.
The judges praised Sauerbruch Hutton's 22storey block for working 'with the physical structure and memories of the site' and commended the way that it stitches together existing buildings.The £58 million building is close to the former Berlin Wall and the housing association's 1950s headquarters block.
RRP's office, retail and apartment scheme consists of three buildings on the Renzo Pianomasterplanned Potsdamer Platz.'The buildings exhibit a familiar rigour and sophistication from urban strategy to environmental design and architectural detail, ' the judges said.
The £1.8 million Millennium Bridge across the Liffey in Dublin stands 100m downstream from the old Ha'penny Bridge and was described as a 'simple, understated span which artfully conceals some complex engineering'.The £6.6 million Trootsplein complex contains 134 houses and 49 flats and maisonettes and was described as 'well considered and all of a piece'.
Sauerbruch Hutton Architects' curved 22storey block for a Berlin housing association sits on top of a 100m long building fronting Kochstrasse (above). A multi-coloured aluminium drum sits on top of the groundhugging structure at one end (right). As the tower is only 11.5m wide, light is allowed to penetrate throughout. Another low-energy feature is the wind sail on top that draws air down into the building.
Dublin's Millennium Bridge
Howley Harrington Architects'Dublin bridge in the centre of the city 'has none of the muscular virtuosity of the Foster/Arup equivalent on London's Bankside, but it is an elegant and much more practical version of its illustrious neighbour, the Ha'penny Bridge, ' according to the judges.
The central span is a lightweight truss clad in aluminium decking. Fibre optic lighting, concealed in the stone abutments, illuminates the bridge at night.
The 50m bridge was built in just nine months after the contract was awarded in April 1999.
Daimler Chrysler building
Richard Rogers Partnership's £42.5 million Potsdamer Platz building is in three parts and covers a 50m-square block. Each building has retail at ground level with offices and apartments higher up and is centred on a courtyard. The angled accommodation on each block (left) allows light to penetrate the courtyards. The judges said: 'Any tendency towards the banal is mitigated by a well considered fenestration.'
Trootsplein Martin Richardson Architect with local practice HTV Architecten has produced 'flexible and generous'housing as part of this scheme near the centre of the Hague in the Netherlands.The brick paving of the square continues the chief material of the block itself and off-the-peg doors are transformed with the addition of a simple vertical detail.
The residents have all signed binding agreements to maintain the look of the place, such as using burnt ochre paint on the front doors. 'This is the work of a mature housing architect who has used his experience to support what he believes in, ' the judges said.