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World Architecture Festival – as it happened

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WAF diary from Barcelona – awards news and video interviews from the world’s biggest architectural gathering

Paul Flowers, of sponsors Grohe, discusses WAF


AJ editor Kieran Long discusses day one at WAF

Primordial blobs may be the future of architecture

Neil Spiller, Professor of Architecture and Digital Theory at the Bartlett, told the Festival that by learning to build ‘protocells’ that behave like biological cells, the AVATAR project at his school hopes to construct a new type of environmental, regionally appropriate architecture.

‘We are trying to make an architecture that is bottom up, that is ethical, sustainable, carbon fixing, and that doesn´t divide the northern from the southern hemisphere  in terms of technology,’  Spiller said. However he believes there is still a lot to be learned: ‘We are waiting around with our trousers round our ankles in an unfurrowed field’.

Olympic project spills its guts

Rod Sheard of Populous and Paul Westbury of Buro Happold (above) were like a comedy double act as they explained the thinking behind London’s stadium for the 2012 Olympics. ‘We have a working relationship where you just don´t have to speak,’ Sheard said to Westbury as he hogged the floor. Later, when Sheard did hand over to Westbury for a moment, he got his comeuppance. ‘This must be a difficult bit,’ he said, before explaining some of the finer points of the engineering.

Full lecture review

Dyson is using  the World Architecture Festival for the world launch of its new bladeless fan, (seen here with media star Maxwell Hutchinson at the opening party), an innovation as radical as its Airblade hand dryer launched a few years ago and now in use in numerous high-profile locations. The fan, known as the Air Multiplier, draws in air and increases its speed 15 times, producing a smooth airflow rather than the choppy one that comes out of a conventional fan.


AJ editor Kieran Long gives a glimpse behind the scenes at WAF


Best buildings in the world - WAF prize-winners announced

The prizes for best buildings in categories from housing to shopping have been awarded. These category winners now proceed to today’s Best Building in the World award, WAF’s most prominent accolade.
See images of all the winners and read highlights of the judges’ citations here

The marvel of Masdar

It was astonishing to learn just how far construction had advanced on the sustainable city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi. When Gerard Evenden (pictured) of Foster and Partners stood up to present this ambitious project, the audience expected to see the slightly familiar visualizations. Instead he showed images of near completed buildings, the first of which will be completed at the end of this year.

Evenden made it clear just how experimental the project is, with many different approaches being tried on the buildings, which will be monitored carefully with the first results due in a year. He even explained the thinking behind putting the city on a 7m-high podium, with transport running underneath…
Full lecture review


Viñoly on fantasy island

Keynote speaker Rafael Viñoly (pictured) discusses contemporary architecture (which he sees as dominated by ‘the consumption of forms and ideas’) and his new project in the Gulf.

This is a student housing and study complex for New York University on Abu Dhabi’s fantasy island of Saadiyat (also due to host a Guggenheim 28 times the size of Bilbao). Viñoly wants to explore how the structure might act as an exemplar for principles of sustainability and city making; the outcome is a megastructure capped with a massive solar array shading a garden-cum-farm-cum-student plaza underneath. Food will be cultivated (food currently has a larger carbon footprint than cars) and the spare energy from the solar panels will power a desalination plant for fresh water production (also scarily scarce).

Viñoly is warily pessimistic about Architects need to actively participate in fields beyond architecture and rediscover function as ‘a dimension related to purpose.’

Less does more: The WAF theme



Charles Jencks on his World Architecture Festival experience

Peter Rich wins World Building of the Year award for Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre

South African architect Peter Rich is the second winner of the World Building of the Year award - for a building on the site of an ancient civilisation, which is also designed to highlight the fragility of the enviornment.
Full story

Peter Rich talks to the AJ about his WAF win

Paul Finch on WAF 2009

Thoughts of the super jury: Vinoly, Ozkan, Moussavi, Macfarlane and Kuma

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