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Design of the Year nominations revealed

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Just one UK architecture project has been nominated for the Design Museum’s 2015 Design of the Year Award

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock Building for the London School of Economics, which missed out on the RIBA 2014 Stirling Prize, is the only UK project to make it onto the prestigious list of nominees.

Other architecture projects nominated include Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, World Architecture Festival-winning House for Trees by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, MVRDV’s Rotterdam market hall and a mosque in Istanbul by Emre Arolat Architects.

Asif Khan’s Megafaces project for the Sochi Olympics has also been nominated in the digital category of the award, while Snohetta’s designs for Norwegian banknotes have made it into the graphics category.

Now in its eighth year, the award the international award recognises ‘design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year’.

The 2015 jury, which is chaired by artist Anish Kapoor, includes architect Farshid Moussavi alongside designers Nicole Farhi and Tom Lloyd.

Last year Zaha Hadid’s Haydar Aliyev Centre became the first architecture project to win the prize. But the award caused widespread controversy and sparked protests from human rights groups, after the building was named in honour of former Soviet secret police general who went on to rule Azerbaijan for 30 years and whose son, Ilham Aliyev, is now in power.  

The category winners will be announced on 4 May with the overall winners revealed on 4 June.

Design of the Year 2015 Architecture Nominees

Arena Do Morro, Natal, Brazil

Herzog & de Meuron

Arena Do Morro, Natal, Brazil by Herzog and de Meuron

This gymnasium was created from an existing sports facility situated in Mãe Luiza, a favela in Natal, north-east Brazil. It now contains a sports field with tiered seating for 420 people, multipurpose rooms for dance and education, a terrace with ocean views, as well as changing rooms and public restrooms. The building’s standout feature is its generous roof, which is constructed to allow light and air in but keep water out, giving a new civic place visible from afar. The two ends of the elongated pitched roof open up towards the neighbourhood and invite people in.

Beijing No.4 High School Fangshan Campus, Beijing, China

OPEN Architecture

Also called the Garden School, this building is part of a larger scheme to build a healthier and self-sustainable new town just outside Beijing. The desire to create more open spaces filled with nature, combined with the space limitations of the site, inspired a strategy on the vertical dimension, creating multiple grounds by separating the programs into above and below, and inserting gardens in-between. The roof-top of the upper building is designed to be an organic farm, with 36 plots - one for each class in the school, providing students the chance to learn the techniques of farming, and also paying tribute to the site’s pastoral past.

Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona

Wendell Burnette Architects

Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona by Wendell Burnette Architects

A private house in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert which has been designed around a courtyard. The ancient construction method of rammed earth was used to create walls offering high thermal mass and a direct relationship to the surrounding landscape. By paying close attention to the desert location the architects have created a house which spirals up from lowest point at southwest corner and out towards a sunset view.

Forfatterhuset Kindergarten, Copenhagen, Denmark


Forfatterhuset Kindergarten, Copenhagen, Denmark by COBE

With its curved corners, lush roof gardens and special brick facade, the new kindergarten in Copenhagen creates a warm modern feeling while respecting its historic surroundings. The project consists of five small houses held together by a brick band which also surrounds the playground. The Kindergarten is organized like a village, creating a place that is functional and flexible for adults, while also small and exciting for children.

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France by Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners

Source: Iwan Baan

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France by Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners

Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners

The Fondation Louis Vuitton houses temporary displays, the permanent art collection and concerts in a ‘glass cloud’ of 12 curved sails that emerge from the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The building’s distinctive shape has been made using over three thousand curved and fritted glass panels.

House for Trees, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Vo Trong Nghia Architects

House for Trees, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Vo Trong Nghia Architects

Under rapid urbanization, cities in Vietnam have diverged far from their origins as sprawling tropical forests. An over-abundance of motorbikes causes daily traffic congestion as well as serious air pollution. House for Trees is an effort to change this situation. The aim is to bring green back into the city, accommodating high-density dwelling with big tropical trees. Five concrete boxes are designed as ‘pots’ to plant trees on their tops. With thick soil layer, these pots also function as storm-water basins for retention, therefore contribute to reduce the risk of flooding when the idea is multiplied to a large number of houses in the future.

La Ultima Esperanza – The Last Hope, Manabi, Ecuador


La Última Esperanza is the final iteration of a long-term collaboration between AL BORDE and the Cabuyal community which has already produced a school and a community centre. This project saw the architects design not a building, but system for teaching architecture so that the community can become more self-sufficient, developing their own methodology of design, and ultimately creating their own buildings.

Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, China

Atelier Deshaus

Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, China by Atelier Deshaus

Long Museum West Bund is located at the bank of Huangpu River, Xuhui District, Shanghai Municipality, on a site which had been used as the wharf for coal transportation. The design of the new museum adopts a cantilever structure featuring an umbrella vault which visually echoes a remaining coal hopper unloading bridge - a symbol of the area’s industrial past.

Markthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands


Markthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands by MVRDV

Located in the center of Rotterdam, Markthal is the first covered food market of the Netherlands. Each of the 228 apartments has a view either towards the historic Laurenskwartier, and towards the market through windows or a glass floor made of sound and smell proof triple glazing. The open sides of the Markthal closed to prevent rain and cold from entering, was designed to be as transparent as possible by opting for a single glazed cable net façade. The mural ‘Cornucopia’ by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam has a surface of 11,000m². ‘Cornucopia’ shows oversized images of market produce available at the market, while the flowers and insects refer to the work of Dutch still life masters from the 17th century. The image was printed onto perforated aluminum panels, and then attached to acoustic panels for noise control.

One Central Park, Sydney, Australia

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

One Central Park, Sydney, Australia by Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Two landmark towers designed by Jean Nouvel for the second phase of the One Central Park project have transformed Sydney’s skyline. The program comprises an exclusively residential apartment block of 34 stories and a 12-story apartment block that sits on a common retail and recreational podium. A vertical landscaped garden designed in collaboration with French artist and botanist Patrick Blanc covers approximately 50% of the buildings’ façade.

Philharmonic Hall Szczecin, Poland


Philharmonic Hall Szczecin, Poland by Barozzi/Veiga

The new Philharmonic Hall of Szczecin is located on the historical site of the ‘Konzerthaus’, which was destroyed during Second World War and recomposes an urban corner in a neighbourhood near to the historic city. The building houses a symphony hall for 1000 spectators, a hall for chamber music, a multifunctional space for exhibitions and conferences, and a wide foyer, which can also be used to host events. The hall is composed following a Fibonacci sequence whose fragmentation increases with the distance from the scene, and gives shape to an ornamental space whose gold-leaf covering calls to mind the classical tradition.

Sancaklar Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Emre Arolat Architects

Sancaklar Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey by Emre Arolat Architects

Inspired by the fact that a mosque does not have a predefined form and anywhere clean may be a prayer room, this project focused on the ‘essence’ of a religious space, distancing itself from discussions based on form. The design aimed at representing purest forms of light and matter, just as a primary inner world, free from all cultural burdens. The disappearance of the building in to the slope of the site, anchored to the ground, creates the sense that it has always been a part of this landscape.

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, London School of Economics, London, UK

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, London School of Economics, London, UK by O’Donnell + Tuomey

Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, LSE, London, UK by O’Donnell + Tuomey

O’Donnell + Tuomey

The site specific sculptural concept for this design is tailored in response to specific lines of sight along approaching vistas, from street corner perspectives and to make visual connections between internal and external circulation. The surface of the brick skin is cut out along fold lines to form large areas of glazing, framing views from street to room. The design is assembled to make one coherent volume from a complex set of component parts. The building is clad with bricks, used in a new way, with each brick offset from the next in an open work pattern, wrapping the walls in a permeable blanket, creating dappled daylight inside and glowing like a lattice lantern at night.

UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, Santiago, Chile


Santiago’s weather inspired the architects to substitute the contemporary typical glass skin, responsible for serious greenhouse effect in interiors, for a thermal mass on the perimeter that avoids undesired heat gains. Open air squares are multiplied throughout the building’s entire height and a permeable atrium core is proposed so that while circulating vertically, people could see what others are doing. As well as creating the right environment for knowledge-creation, this design has reduced energy costs by two-thirds.

Waterbank Campus at Endana Secondary School, Laikipia, Kenya


A ‘model’ rain harvesting school campus for semi-arid regions, the aim of this project is to support education with specially designed buildings that integrate water collection, storage and filtration with agriculture, using football as a catalyst, providing a gathering place and vehicle for environmental education and the resolution of ethnic tensions across the region. The ‘Waterbank Campus’ occupies a 10 acre site integrating 4 acres of irrigated conservation agriculture with 7 unique, low-cost, rain harvesting building types developed by PITCHAfrica, and termed ‘Waterbanks’ because of each building’s capacity to harvest and store high volumes of water using extremely low cost construction and locally available skills and materials, providing a year round supply for poverty stricken regions.


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