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NORD scoops Wienerberger Brick Award prize

Glasgow-based NORD Architecture has picked up the ‘Non-Residential Building’ prize for its Olympic Park substation at the fifth Wienerberger Brick Awards announced last week in Vienna

The multiple award-winning infrastructure project – one of the first structures to complete on London’s 2012 Olympic park – was one of five schemes selected to share a prize pot worth €27,000.

Peter Rich’s Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa took the grand prize and topped the awards ‘Special Solution with Brick’ category.

The Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich, together with Michael Ramage and John Ochsendorf. Image by Peter Rich

The Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa by Peter Rich, together with Michael Ramage and John Ochsendorf. Image by Peter Rich

The scheme, which was crowned World Building of the Year at the 2009 World Architecture Festival, reinterprets ancient vaulting techniques to create an archaeological exhibition space.

Hrvoje Hrabak of the awards jury said: ‘The low-tech hi-tech balance, together with references to the extraordinary local landscape, creates an architecture with universal and timeless dimensions.’

Rich said: ‘The wonderful thing about this project is the sense of ownership of  the people who built it.’ Michael Ramage of the University of Cambridge – who worked on the project – added: ‘The men and women who built our dreams, we get the credit for designing, but without the heads and hearts of the people building it, we wouldn’t have the building.’

Belgian architect Bart Lens triumphed in the ‘Single-Family House’ category with his Rabbit Hole house project in Gaasbeek.

Bart Lens Rabbit Hole house project in Gaasbeek, Belgium. Image copyright Bieke Claessens

Source: Image copyright Bieke Claessens

Bart Lens Rabbit Hole house project in Gaasbeek, Belgium. Image copyright Bieke Claessens

The project to renovate a half-collapsed brick farmhouse combines a private house with a veterinary practice with a funnel-shaped annex was built as an intermediate space between the two buildings.

Bart Lens said: ‘Brick is used here not only as a construction material, but also as a concept reinforcing the existing structure. It is the binding element between the past and the present.’

Jury member Plamen Bratkov said: ‘It is really inspiring when one stands in the public area looking through this newly created passage where one cannot see what is happening on the other side, so that one has to leave oneself to be led by the light.’

The ‘Residential Building’ award went to Lisbon-based architects Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus for its elderly care home project in Alcácer do Sal.

Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus' elderly care home project in Alcácer do Sal. Image copyright ZONE Media

Source: Image copyright ZONE Media

Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus’ elderly care home project in Alcácer do Sal. Image copyright ZONE Media

Jury member Rudolf Finsterwalder said: ‘Architecture is understood as a sculpture and thus stands in the tradition of both Portuguese grand masters, Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura. The thermally insulated cavity wall has been plastered on the outside and finished with a white glossy paint coat, which emphasises the form’s sculptural character.’

The ‘Conversion’ prize was given to Slovak architect Pavol Paňák in recognition of a weekend retreat he constructed over the course of 10 years at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains.

Pavol Paňák's weekend retreat. Image copyright Tomas Manina

Pavol Paňák’s weekend retreat. Image copyright Tomas Manina

Jury member John Foldbjerg Lassen said: ‘The building is exciting because it expresses so much emotion – in the way it creates space and how it merges with the natural surroundings.’

Paňák said: ‘The studio pays homage to tradition, continuity, place and brick-making. Firing bricks was a particularly demanding task, requiring concentration, patience and skill.’

A total of 50 projects from 28 countries on five continents were shortlisted for the Wienerberger Brick Award which take place every two years. Projects are submitted by architecture critics and architecture journalists.

Wienerberger chief executive Heimo Scheuch said: ‘With the Wienerberger Brick Award, we want to cast a spotlight on the innovative and versatile use of brick in today’s modern architecture. All of the projects give you a sense of the instinctive feel with which the architects showed consideration for the local environment. This is also reflected in the choice of materials.’

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