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Courtesy of WAF
Courtesy of WAF

The World Architecture Festival Celebrates the Best Buildings of 2017

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 24 November 2017
Each year, more than 2,000 architects from around the globe flock to the world’s largest international architectural event in Berlin. On the opening day, November 15, the first set of awards were announced, which included everything from a Turkish dairy factory to a cutting-edge Palestinian museum. Here are 10 of the award-winning completed projects that you can now see around the world.

Civic and community category

Back in November 2013 a super typhoon devastated Tacloban in the Southern Philippines, which also destroyed the original office of a local NGO called Streetlight, which acts as a rehabilitation centre and orphanage for street children. Architectural firms Leandro V. Locsin Partners and Eriksson Furunes, along with Jago Boase, worked with Streetlight to design brand-new premises. Tapping into the Filipino culture of bayanihan, which essentially means working together as a community, the practices employed local people to give the organisation its own identity and keep them closely involved in the process, from drawing plans to making models.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Culture category

Heneghan Peng Architects’ mission for this brand-new Palestinian museum was to create ‘the leading, most credible and robust platform for shaping and communicating knowledge about Palestinian history, society and culture.’ The huge 10,000 square-metre limestone building reflects the terraced terrain of its surroundings, with extensive landscaped gardens surrounding it that consist of everything from olives, figs and pomegranate to jasmine, chickpea and za’atar – all synonymous with Palestine. Situated on the Birzeit University campus near Ramallah, the museum was praised by the judges for ‘working with the contours of Palestine’. Described as a ‘fragile terrain’, the architects have made a museum without a collection. ‘Like the place and culture where it is situated, this building will define its purpose over time,’ added the panel.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Display category

This landmark installation project was UK architect Alison Brooks’ crowning glory, and became a defining feature of the London Design Festival back in 2016. The judges described The Smile as ‘a small build with a big impact – a simple and powerful concept which overcomes big technical challenges to deliver a delightful installation.’ Working with the American Hardwood Export Council, Brooks designed the first-ever ‘mega-tube’ out of construction-sized panels of hardwood, showcasing the possibilities and durability of cross-laminated tulipwood.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Housing category

This unique co-housing project in Amsterdam by Dutch practice Marc Koehler Architects involved local residents from day one; the firm worked closely and collaboratively with the community to create 19 unique loft apartments that can be adapted and tailored to suit the needs of the owners over time. The Superlofts Houthaven is just one part of a global network of local building co-operatives developed by Marc Koehler Architects – read more about the project here.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

New & Old category

After Guangming village was destroyed during the Ludian earthquake in 2014, the Chinese University of Hong Kong helped the local community find an affordable, sustainable and comfortable building solution. Rather than using expensive brick-concrete construction, the university adapted the traditional rammed-earth method so that the locals could afford to re-create these buildings in the future. Seismic performance has been improved by ensuring that components of the wall are well adjusted using materials such as sand and clay, while steel bars and concrete belts have been added to walls to avoid cracking and improve the overall structural integrity. This anti-seismic earth-building method will now be utilised for other rural projects in Southwestern China to help prevent damage like this in the future. The judges were impressed by ‘the project’s huge ambition to offer extraordinary hope and promise to disaster communities’.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Office category

This eco office building is another that has taken its lessons from an earthquake – the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Nikken Sekkei’s design for its Co-op Kyosai Plaza in Tokyo integrates cutting-edge environmental building systems with countermeasures to protect the building and its workers from future quakes. Judges said the building ‘demonstrates many exemplary innovations. Motivated by climate change and environmental responsibility, the building represents a holistic response from planning down to final details.’

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Production, Energy & Recycling category

Istanbul-based Slash Architects and Arkizon Architects won the Production, Energy & Recycling award for the design of The Farm of 38° 30°. The dairy factory in central Turkey wraps around a courtyard, with floor-to-ceiling glazing allowing visitors a glimpse of the cheese production process going on within the stone industrial building. It’s a simple yet sophisticated design, which the judges said is ‘beautifully expressed’, along with commenting that the building allowed for ‘public and private experiences that are very well integrated’.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

School category

Australian studio Andrew Burges Architects turned a huge 1920s warehouse into an imaginative ‘mini city’ for children. Now the East Sydney Early Learning Centre, the building contains small plywood house-shaped rooms within the structure, plus AstroTurf and a sandpit can be found on the roof. The judges said: ‘Every element witty and effortless, making the entire project a complete work of art.’

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Sport category

The creme-de-la-creme of large-scale sports venues, the new US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis won the Sport – Completed Buildings category. Designed by HKS Architects, the building is a great year-round venue that offers plazas, parks and an observation platform, plus its asymmetric roof and steep planes help to prevent snow build-up during harsh winters. The transparent roof panels not only let in plenty of light, they also allow office workers to gaze down at the action from the skyscrapers above.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

House category

This Modernist-style house is part of Vo Trong Nghia Architects’ ‘House for Trees’ project, which aims to reconnect the city with nature and provide green space in a high-density area of Ho Chi Minh City. The Binh house is a multi-generational home that maximises every square inch of available space and also utilises natural ventilation where possible to ensure the house remains cool in the tropical climate. Large trees have been planted on the roof, which cleverly shade the house, thus reducing the temperature indoors, while ‘vertical farming’ ensures the family are pretty self-sufficient.

Courtesy of WAF

Courtesy of WAF

Running alongside the WAF is its sister event INSIDE, which aims to showcase 2017’s most innovative and inspiring interiors projects.