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Christine Murray: Diary of a WAF judge

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Day one at WAF and my job was to judge the Holiday category with Tenerife architect Fernando Menis (Menis Arquitectos) and Sydney-based (Stuttgart-born) Chris Bosse (LAVA), both worth a google if you don’t know their work

If you haven’t been to WAF, imagine a more dignified and interesting version of the X Factor happening simultaneously in 10 different rooms. As the jury, we sit with our backs to the audience (which wanders from crit to crit), and watch 10 minute presentations by the architect on a single project, with 10 minutes of questions and criticism to follow.

Cramming a project overview into 10 minutes proved a challenge for some. The pitfalls include flying through too many slides, no plans - always a fatal error, but especially for hotels, where you want to the layout of the rooms. Another pitfall was showing too many exterior shots - the jury shouldn’t have to ask what the interior spaces are like. Other gaffs included stressing the sustainability of a 15,000 euro per square metre project that involved blowing up a mountain to build, and that you travel to by helicopter.

The overall quality was excellent, however, and incredibly diverse, from the mirrored cube of Tham and Videgard’s treehouse to Isay Weinfeld’s two very different masterly hotels, to Kerry Hill Architects’ elegant Aman New Delhi.

In the end, the day went to Lotus Practice for Raas Jodhpur in India - a wonderful hotel complex that we universally agreed managed to be sensitive to the heritage of the site in a uniquely Indian modern language, without aping the past. The use of local artisan stone cutters was a bonus, as were the 400kg sliding jali louvres!

And the presentation was perfect - site photos, historical context, design development, plans, photography and client testimonials. They told me later at the delicious winners and judges’ dinner that they rehearsed for six straight hours before they got the balance of the presentation right. I wish them luck for the finals on Friday in front of the superjury. I’ll be watching.

Bring on WAF day two.

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