The winners of the Wienerberger Brick Award 2012 have been announced at a ceremony in Vienna’s City Hall. Five international architects were awarded for their outstanding work, for projects using brick as a construction material. The five-person jury chose South African architect Peter Rich as grand prize winner and winner of the category “Special Solution with Brick” for the Mapungubwe Interpretation Center in South Africa. Additionally, the accompanying book “Brick’12” features the award-winning buildings as well as the 45 other nominated projects from 28 countries and five continents, presented by renowned architecture writers from around the world. More images and information on the awards after the break.
The “Non-Residential Building” category was won by Scottish architectural firm NORD for its innovative electrical substation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Architect Bart Lens convinced the jury in the “Single Family House” category with his project titled The Rabbit Hole “Single-Family House”. The Portuguese architects and brothers Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus received the “Residential Building” Brick Award for their ‘house for elderly people’ in Alcácer do Sal. While in the final category, “Conversion”, Slovakia’s Pavol Paňák scored a win with his personal architectural, brick-built hideaway.
The Brick Award, which has been presented in a two-year cycle by the world’s largest brick producer since 2004, recognizes particularly successful examples of modern brick architecture. The award is endowed with a total of €27,000 in prize money. “With the Wienerberger Brick Award, we want to cast a spotlight on the innovative and versatile use of brick in today’s modern architecture,” says Wienerberger CEO Heimo Scheuch. “All of the projects give you a sense of the instinctive feel with which the architects showed consideration for the local environment. This is also reflected in the choice of materials.”
Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre: The philosophy of the location
Grand-prize winner and winner of the category “Special Solution with Brick” is South Africa’s Peter Rich, together with Michael Ramage and John Ochsendorf, for the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa. The architect’s goal was to create a space in which to exhibit the archaeological finds in their original environment of the National Park. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. The Visitor Centre reinterprets ancient vaulting techniques and uses the most sophisticated, scientifically sound construction methods. In collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the architect analyzed Mediterranean domes as a basis for the project. “The low-tech hi-tech balance, together with references to the extraordinary local landscape, creates an architecture with universal and timeless dimensions,” says jury member Hrvoje Hrabak.
Olympic Substation: Perfect brick façade
Scottish architectural firm NORD is the winner in the category “Non-Residential Building” with a primary electrical substation for the 2012 Olympic Games, built at the Olympic Park in London’s East End. The architect’s approach was a pure geometric solution interpreted with a rich brick texture made of coal-black bricks. There is a contrast in the design of the brick façade between the solid mass of the plinth and the ‘looser’ brickwork of the upper section. “The jury considers this a very successful project due to its very clear idea and perfect execution of the brick façade,” says jury member Zhang Lei. Architect Alan Pert: “The monolithic simplicity deliberately distinguishes itself from the spectacular form-play that characterize the sports facilities.”
The Rabbit Hole: Paving brick gives unity from floor to roof
In the category “Single-Family House”, architect Bart Lens impressed the jury with his project in Gaasbeek, Belgium, titled “The Rabbit Hole”, which involved the renovation of a half-collapsed brick farmhouse into a residential area and a veterinary practice. A funnel shaped annex was built as an intermediate space between the two buildings. The main challenge was how to adapt an old farmhouse to meet today’s residential requirements without destroying its rural character. Bart Lens: “Brick is used here not only as a construction material, but also as a concept reinforcing the existing structure. It is the binding element between the past and the present.” What struck the jury most was the creation of the intermediate space: “It is really inspiring when one stands in the public area looking through this newly created passage where one cannot see what is happening on the other side, so that one has to leave oneself to be led by the light,” says Plamen Bratkov.
Retirement Home Alcácer do Sal: Social use with architectural quality
Lisbon-based architects Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus won in the category “Residential Building” with the home for elderly people Alcácer do Sal. They created a living space that is both functional and comfortable while fulfilling the needs of the community. “Our aim was to guarantee the residents a balanced relationship between living in a community of elderly people in need of care and the respectful protection of their privacy,” the architects said. The design foresaw interior rooms whose final use can be determined by the users themselves. Jury member Rudolf Finsterwalder: “Architecture is understood as a sculpture and thus stands in the tradition of both Portuguese grand masters, Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura. The thermally insulated cavity wall has been plastered on the outside and finished with a white glossy paint coat, which emphasizes the form’s sculptural character.”
From brick kiln to architectural studio
In the category “Conversion”, the jury chose the weekend atelier of Slovak architect Pavol Paňák as the winner of the Wienerberger Brick Award 2012. Over a period of 10 years, and doing most of the renovations himself, Pavol Paňák transformed a former brick kiln in Čachtice at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains into his own, personal architectural, brick built hideaway. Jury member John Foldbjerg Lassen: “The building is exciting because it expresses so much emotion – in the way it creates space and how it merges with the natural surroundings.” The studio’s basic space is determined by the original brick-firing kiln. Convinced that architecture requires order, tradition and evolution, the studio is based on a nearly perfectly adherence to the rules of Cartesian geometry. “The studio pays homage to tradition, continuity, place and brick-making. Firing bricks was a particularly demanding task, requiring concentration, patience and skill,” is how architect Pavol Paňák describes his approach to the project.
Brick’12: The book
Details on the award-winning and nominated projects can be found in the bilingual book “Brick’12” published by Callwey Publishers as an accompaniment to the Wienerberger Brick Award. The second part of the 240-page book includes the new magazine Brick+, in which readers can learn where top architect David Chipperfield goes on holiday, why Literature Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek is crazy about ceramic artist Kurt Ohnsorg, and how a new generation of architects from all over Europe has developed a passion for building with brick. The book “Brick’12” is available in German-language bookstores, at the Callwey online shop or from major online retailers from 15 May 2012.
For more information on the Brick Award, please visit here.