From a list of 25 finalists released in May, the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) has announced the winners of the 2016 European Prize for Urban Public Space. Awarded since 2000 to recognize “transformations and improvements in the public spaces of Europe,” this year’s prize names two joint winners along with four special mentions. All 25 finalists will have their work featured in an exhibition that will tour Europe over the next two years, and also will be published in an online archive that features past finalists.
Continue after the break for images and descriptions of the winning projects.
Joint Winner: Recovery of the Irrigation System of the Spa Allotments, Caldes de Montbui, Spain / Cíclica + Cavaa Arquitectes
During the twentieth century uncontrolled urban development of the periphery of Caldes de Montbui seriously damaged the Hortes de Baix (Lower Orchards), more than three hectares ancient agricultural land which, for centuries, had been irrigated by the town’s surplus thermal waters. Bad smells and health risks resulting from the contamination of the irrigation system by sewage, together with partial covering of the main canal, inaccessibility of the orchards and bad management of wastewater from private spas ended up causing a rupture among the community of farmers using the irrigated land and the eventual collapse of the agricultural system.
However, after 2012, the town council introduced a participative process which brought together more than seventy horticulturalists. With their agreement, the sewage was properly channelled, the old irrigated land was supplied with clean water and a new network of accessible paths connected the orchards with the old centre of town. The land is now once again a productive space, keeping the horticultural tradition of Caldes de Montbui alive, contributing towards its food sovereignty and raising awareness among the town’s inhabitants concerning the importance of democratic management of the public good of water resources.
Joint Winner: Przełomy Centre for Dialogue in Solidarność Square, Szczecin, Poland / KWK Promes
Solidarność (Solidarity) Square was a physical expression of the historic fracture in Szczecin after the Second World War. Named in memory of sixteen workers who were killed in 1970 when they demonstrated against the Soviet regime, the square had little relevance beyond this purely commemorative function. Its urban surrounds, anonymous and featureless, had not recovered from the massive destruction of allied bombing attacks at the end of the Second World War, after which the city went from German to Polish control, whereupon its entire population was replaced, with all the tragic effects of such a change. The square, which recently recovered its lost centrality with the construction of the new Szczecin Philharmonic Hall, has been completely refurbished. It is now the site of the underground “Przełomy” Centre for Dialogue, a branch of the National Museum, which aims to heal the wounds of collective memory. Meanwhile the sloping contours of its roof offer the city a public space for intensive, vibrant use in its everyday life.
Special Mention: New Multiuser Porch, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Belgium / Baukunst
Special Mention: Garden of the Heavenly Hundred, Kiev, Ukraine / Yevheniia Kuleba + NGO “Misto-Sad”
Special Mention: Barkingside Town Centre Improvements, London, UK / DK-CM