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  1. Analysis
September 29, 2011

LEAF Awards 2011: the winners

Several of the architectural world’s hottest talents assembled to celebrate the ninth annual Emirates Glass LEAF Awards. Elisabeth Fischer profiles some of the winning projects.

By Elisabeth Fisher

As one of the most prestigious annual architecture prizes, the LEAF Awards are setting the benchmark for the international design-build world. In its ninth edition in 2011, once again the best companies and individual designers around the world competed in 12 categories for the much sought-after prizes.

This year’s winners were announced in cooperation with Glass Emirates during a gala dinner on 16 September in The Landmark London Hotel in the UK. In addition to the category awards, an overall winner and a special commendation award were drawn, highlighting projects that the judges felt made the most exceptional contribution to the industry as a whole.

The judge panel was chaired by Brauer Associates principal Irving Brauer, and joined by Momentum Engineering director Stephen Fisher, Fraser Brown MacKenna senior director Angus Brown, and architectural curator, critic and author Lucy Bullivant.

Here, designbuild-network profiles some of the winning designs, which have not only impressed the judges and architectural crowd during the award ceremony in September in London, but are forecasted to have a long-lasting artistic legacy in the architectural world.

Milanofiori Residential Complex Assago – Overall Winner and Residential Building of the Year

Described as an "elegant solution [that] embraces the classic integration of landscape and building", the €32.8m Milanofiori housing complex, designed by Open Building Research (OBR) for client Milanofiori 2000 in Assago, Italy, was not only honoured with the Residential Building of the Year award but also declared as the overall winner of the evening.

Construction of the 27,400m2, C-shaped complex started in 2005 and was completed in December 2010. Housing 107 apartments, the shape optimises the solar-passive design of the building. OBR took on two concepts by designing two different façades: one with an urban sentiment with movable wooden screens facing a street outside the complex, and a more organic one with double-glazed bioclimatic greenhouses that faces the inner park.

OBR’s Milanfiori Housing Complex is a truly progressive and holistic concept.

The building is shaped by translation of the upper levels in line with positions of optimal sun exposure. The external terraces are tapered in order to increase privacy for residents. The winter garden has not only an environmental value by providing buffer zone that allows thermal regulation, but also extends the interior living space towards the exterior. The complex involves a series of open spaces for social interactions with multiple opportunities of movement within the park.

"OBR’s Milanfiori Housing Complex is a truly progressive and holistic concept," commented the judges. "With its elegant overlap of different layers, OBR’s scheme interacts meaningfully with nature, and – something we regard as significant today – allows residents to personalise their landscape. Bravo once again the Italian team!"

Telefonica Tower Diagonal Zerozero – Commercial Building of the Year

The Commercial Building of the Year award went to the €66.9m Telefonica Tower Diagonal Zerozero project. Designed by Estudi Massip-Bosch for Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, the 110m-high tower is clearly visible from the city of Barcelona and the coast, and is a "superb contribution to the city," according to the LEAF judges.

Low-iron, extra-transparent glass with patterned ceramic serigraphy reinforces the building’s slenderness, contributing to solar diffusion and glare control.

Construction of the 4,044m2 building started in January 2008 and with completion in January 2011. The façade is made up of a modular curtain wall with white aluminium and extra light periphery, partially silk screen printed, following a vertical pattern that highlights the slender, clean and serene shape of the tower.

Low-iron, extra-transparent glass with patterned ceramic serigraphy reinforces the building’s slenderness, contributing to solar diffusion and glare control. The transparent windows offer a glimpse to the interior, intended for 1,500 staff. The ground floor has been developed in three interrelated levels around a 30m-high atrium that follows the slope of one of the adjacent buildings, the Plaza Fórum.

Besides the atrium in the main hall, there are three other particular interior spaces: an atrium on the 17th floor that reaches the top of the building, a terrace and the doubles space for the board room on the 23rd floor, and an auditorium with room for 350 people, which takes up two floors and is divided into stalls and two amphitheatres that can be made independent, operating autonomously and simultaneously.

Thyssenkrupp Quarter, Q1 – Best Sustainable Technology Incorporated into a Building

The Q1 building at the new ThyssenKrupp Quarter in Essen, Germany, was honoured with the Best Sustainable Technology Incorporated into a Building award. Fifty metres high, the centrepiece of the quarter overlooks all other buildings on the campus on site of the old cast steel production facility.

"This expressive symbol of sustainable development is as a result a completely distinctive corporate building for the global materials and technology group ThyssenKrupp," commented the judges on the decision to award JSWD Architekten with Chaix & Morel ETA. "Q1 is a masterly design for a workplace for 500 staff in this new urban quarter providing space for work, leisure and culture."

Work on the €300m project started in 2007 with completion in 2010. Extending across 11 floors of flexible areas, the building is structured by intermediate levels and floating bridges, with a glazed atrium forming the centre. The space is concluded by two glass landscape windows of 28.1m by 25.6m in size, made up of 96 windowpanes, which are held in position by a thin, hardly visible cable construction so the windows appear to be made from a single, large-scale pane of glass.

In addition, the building features a sun shading system, which has more than 3,000 metal feathers for large parts on its façade. The feathers rotate to follow the position of the sun to avoid overheating and to direct natural light into the interior, while protecting from views from the outside.

We were excited by the bravura of the Crystal’s remarkable geometry, elegant interiors and flexibility within the six floors

The Crystal – Best Structural Design of the Year

schmidt hammer lassen architects’ geometrical glazed masterpiece was honoured with the Best Structural Design of the Year prize. The Crystal, an extension to the existing Nykredit premises, is located on a plaza between the harbour front and the old part of Copenhagen, and was described as a "landmark harmonising with its neighbouring buildings" by the LEAF judges.

Constructed between 2008 and 2010, the building is freestanding on the site, resting only on a single point and line with a passage leading under the building. The interior has been planned as a Z-shape around two atria, which allows the accommodation of open plan, separate offices or meeting rooms. It has a rhombic construction system placed immediately inside the façade that allows the building to dispense with pillars, and functions as an architectural element. Moreover, the multifaceted glass façade reflects daylight and its integrated sun screen adapts to changing light conditions.

"We were excited by the bravura of the Crystal’s remarkable geometry, elegant interiors and flexibility within the six floors, and its fine contribution to the waterfront," the judges said.

The Boat – Mixed-Used Building of the Year

In 2010, the Boat was nominated for the Carbuncle Cup, which awards the UK’s worst new building, and described as an oversized ‘blank gable wall’. In 2011, the complex was able to secure the LEAF Mixed-Used Building of the Year award. Sitting on the newly revive Customs House Square in Belfast, the 14-storey tower incorporates apartments above offices, a restaurant and a bar at ground level.

The £4.9m project, highly glazed with solar control provided by a bespoke curved external louvre system, was designed by TODD Architects and Planners for Harry Dougherty and constructed between April 2008 and April 2010. According to the designers, the 7,500m2 combination of work spaces and apartments in the building offers the prospect of ‘livework’ opportunities, which is common in other cities but was until now missing in Belfast – a fact that was also appreciated by the LEAF judges.

Other winners

Winners in the other categories were the punta house in Punta del Este, Uruguay, designed by studio mk27 for the Residential Building of the Year Award, single occupancy; the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, UK, by RHWL Architects for the International Interior Design Award; and the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, by Populous for the International Offsite Construction Project of the Year award.

Other winners include the Living Foz Apartment Building in Foz do Douro, Portugal by dEMM arquitectura for the Young Architect of the Year Award; the Building of Control CCS in Ferrol, Spain, by Diaz & Diaz Arquitectos as well as the Cité de L’Océan et du Surf in Biarritz, France, by Steven Holl Architects for the Public Building of the Year award; and the EDF Archive Centre, Bure, France, by LAN for the Best Sustainable Development in Keeping with its Environment.

In addition, an exceptional International Interior Design Special Commendation was awarded to the University of Naples Subway Station, designed by Karim Rashid for the Naples Municipality.

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