Wan Awards 2016: winner announced for Education, Sport in Architecture and Performing Spaces are announced

The first winners of WAN (World Architecture News) Awards have been announced. The international architecture event, now at its eighth edition, includes 22 categories, as Adaptive Reuse, Transport, Performing Spaces and Waterfront Architecture, represented throughout the year and judged every two months froma  panel of experts.

To triumph for Education Award are JJW Architects, with South Harbour School project.

Located in Copenhagen, Denmark where the population is currently growing at a fast pace of over 1,000 new citizens a month, the city needed to look at increasing its school facilities. South Harbour School is a new public school with a maritime and public profile, inviting in its neighbours and reaching out to its city, becoming an active and socially sustainable part of its new community.

JW Architects designed South Harbour with the understanding that schools are equally places for the learning process and also for social exchange. Surprises and new experiences are central concepts for the school. On each floor, plans change and the heights of the rooms vary throughout. These scale changes are central to the project where high ceiling open rooms are combined with more intimate, low-ceiling spaces. The school also features a variety of horizontal and vertical connections and spaces. The idea behind this design is to ensure students, teachers and visitors are surprised, challenged and stimulated as they move around indoors and outdoors. The dualities of activity/rest, light/dark, warm/chilly are all part of the concept. South Harbour School provides different spaces and environments to support the children’s learning processes and social abilities. The jury members were unanimously impressed by the use of space. 

The school also uses a number of technical solutions to aid in creating a good indoor and acoustically controlled environment, keeping the energy consumption at a minimum level. Various studies show that good use of acoustics have a positive impact on the student learning process and wellbeing, therefore acoustics have been one of the major focus areas throughout the project.

To win the WAN Sport in Architecture is then the CHS Field project by Snow Kreilich Architects, Ryan A+E and AECOM. The CHS Field Ballpark is conceived first as a park and a public space, and then as a sports venue. Working with the City of Saint Paul and the St. Paul Saints, the design team slipped a 7,000 seat ballpark into a remnant site between an interstate highway, an elevated bridge, a light rail operations facility and the historic Lowertown District.

The architecture is low and compact, with the ballpark structures surrounding the seating bowl and playing field. A light suite level structure floats above the grounded seating bowl and masonry concourse amenity buildings. The main entrance frames the termination of Fifth Street, creating an important connection with the city core. Large open volumes at the concourse and the suite level combined with the elevate suite level create a space that is porous to its surroundings and a park that is visible from adjacent spaces. The material palette is restrained, using wood on the underside of the canopy and suite level, combined with dark steel and masonry. The design’s restraint becomes a foil and a framework for the energetic promotions and events for which the ballclub is so well known.  

In the category of Performing Spaces the winners are MAD Architects for their Harbin Opera House 

The Harbin Opera House is the focal point of the Cultural Island in the city of Harbin, featuring two performance venues, a grand theatre that can host over 1,600 patrons and a smaller theatre to accommodate an intimate audience of 400.

The opera house emphasises public interaction and participation with the building, ticketholders and the general public alike can explore the façade’s carved paths and ascend the building. At the peak, visitors discover an open, exterior performance space that serves as an observation platform for visitors to survey the panoramic views of Harbin’s metropolitan skyline and the surrounding wetlands below.

The architectural procession choreographs a conceptual narrative, transforming visitors into performers. Upon entering the grand lobby, visitors will see large transparent glass walls spanning the grand lobby, visually connecting the curvilinear interior with the swooping façade and exterior plaza. 

The venue’s shape has been designed so that it blends into Harbin’s landscape. The height of the entrances have been kept low, while the building stretches the horizontal expanse so it continues into the surrounding landscape. This effect is especially marked during Harbin’s long and cold winter, when the pillowed white aluminium cladding will make the building look like a snowdrift.