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Political hostility threatens O’Donnell + Tuomey’s RIBA International Prize contender


O’Donnell + Tuomey’s €34 million Central European University campus in Budapest could be abandoned less than two months after being shortlisted for the RIBA International Prize 2018

The limestone-clad addition to the Hungarian university’s historic campus might have to be vacated following attacks against the progressive institution by the country’s right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orbán, according to a report by CNN.

The move follows Orbán’s outspoken criticism of the university’s founder, George Soros, who was one of several leading Americans targeted in last week’s attempted mail bombings.

Orbán’s hard-line government also introduced a 25 per cent ‘immigration surtax’ this summer, which led to the university scrapping programmes on refugees and asylum seekers.

The university is planning to open a satellite campus in Vienna next year, which it could relocate to, quitting Hungary to set up in Austria. Meanwhile doubts remain over the second phase of O’Donnell + Tuomey’s 35,000m² project for the institution, which is understood to be on hold indefinitely.

In September, O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Budapest campus was named as one of four completed projects battling it out for RIBA’s biennial, global accolade.

Also shortlisted are: a boarding school on the edge of the Amazon by Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum; a music school in Tokyo by Nikken Sekkei; and an eco-skyscraper in Milan by Boeri Studio.

Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey of O’Donnell + Tuomey described their university scheme as a ‘special project’ for the practice, and ‘an open campus for a liberal-minded university’.

They said: ‘The project took us on a journey of discovery into the architectural, cultural and urban morphology of Budapest, involving us in sometimes sympathetic, sometimes controversial discussions with the city authorities during the design process.

‘We wanted the building to fit into its context, but to fit in by standing out. Now that it’s built, the project seems to be widely accepted and well understood as belonging to its place; a new part of the old city.’

The winner of this year’s RIBA International Prize will be announced on 29 November.

RIBA International Prize 2018 finalists

Central European University – Phase 1 by O’Donnell + Tuomey

3. central european university phase 1, o donnell + tuomey, photograph by tam bujnovszky

Shortlisted for RIBA International Prize 2018 - Central European University, phase 1 by O’Donnell + Tuomey

As part of a major redevelopment of the Central European University, the architects have added a limestone-clad building to a street in the heart of Budapest. Drawing on the city’s unique vernacular, the new design skilfully knits together several historical buildings and courtyards to create an internal sequence of spaces and routes. The project brings a total of 35,000m² of new space to the inner-city campus, and consists of a library, auditorium, teaching and learning facilities, study rooms, and a café.

Children Village, Brazil, by Rosenbaum + Aleph Zero

10. children village, rosenbaum + aleph zero, photograph by leonardo finotti

Children Village, Brazil, by Rosenbaum + Aleph Zero

Children Village, located in a rural area on the outskirts of the Amazon, provides boarding accommodation for 540 senior school children at the Canuanã School. The building is largely made from locally sourced timber, with the Brazilian architects exploiting the abundant natural resources surrounding the site in an innovative way, thus promoting both economic and environmental sustainability.

A variety of interacting spaces – from dormitories and reading spaces to balconies and hammocks – were designed together with the students in order to improve their quality of life and refine the bond between them and the school. Children Village is an exemplar of how architecture can stimulate its users, as well as the surrounding community, in a region rich in natural resources but poor in educational opportunities.

Toho Gakuen School of Music by Nikken Sekkei

11. toho gakuen school of music, nikken sekkei, photograph by harunori noda

Shortlisted for RIBA International Prize 2018 - Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo by Nikken Sekkei

Toho Gakuen School of Music is a famous music college in the suburbs of Tokyo. This new open-plan campus replaced an earlier building on the site, which had a conventional arrangement of cellular practice rooms along a corridor with no natural light. Conversely, this virtuoso piece of architecture has an almost village-like quality with independent teaching spaces, neat communal spaces, and lots of natural light thanks to exposure to the exterior.

Guided by the imperative of optimum acoustics, the Japanese architects have ensured that each lesson room has a proportion and size requested by each instrument, and is arranged with a void space in between, such as a corridor, to provide acoustic separation. As a result, music from each room can be heard in the corridor, but in the rooms there is silence.

Vertical forest (Il Bosco Verticale) by Boeri Studio

18. vertical forest, boeri studio, photograph by giovanni nardi

Shortlisted for RIBA International Prize 2018 - Il Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), Milan, by Boeri Studio

Vertical Forest is the second of two residential towers in Milan representing a new approach to high-rise buildings in which trees and humans coexist. The project consists of two towers of 80m and 112m, planted with almost 17,000 trees, shrubs and plants. This provides the equivalent greenery of 20,000m² of woodland and undergrowth.

Vertical Forest has wide-reaching environmental benefits. Not only does it increase biodiversity by repopulating the city’s flora and fauna, but it creates its own micro-climate to filter fine particles and improve air quality. The building also presents a smart solution to control urban expansion, with each tower constituting the equivalent of a peripheral area of single family houses and buildings of around 50,000m².


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