NL Architects + XVW architectuur’s “innovative renovation” of the DeFlat Kleiburg apartment complex in Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer neighbourhood has been selected as the winner of the 2017 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture-Mies van der Rohe Award.
One of the largest residential buildings in the Netherlands, the complex was saved from the wrecking ball through its transformation into a rejuvenated framework called a “Klusflat," within which inhabitants could renovate their apartments by themselves. This is the first time the award has been given to a renovation of an existing building.
DeFlat Kleiburg was selected from a list of 355 works from 36 European countries, including the four other finalist projects: Rudy Ricciotti + Passelac & Roques’ Rivesaltes Memorial; BBGK Architekci’s Katyn Museum; Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects’ Kannikegården; and Alison Brooks Architects’ Ely Court. NL Architects were also awarded the EU Mies Awards’ Emerging Architect Prize in 2005 for their work BasketBar in Utrecht.
Also awarded was the 2017 Emerging Architect Prize, to Brussels studio MSA/V+ for NAVEZ - 5 social units, a housing project near the northern boundary of Brussels that accomplish the dual role of “represent[ing] the urban revalidation scheme with a landmark at the entrance of the city and provid[ing] exemplary apartments for large families.”.
Read on to see the jury citations for the two winning projects.
DeFlat Kleiburg / NL architects + XVW architectuur
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Jury valued that the project is a collective effort by many people. The architectural concept was to transform the megablock into a contemporary residential building with flexibility in internal planning, and creating a new edge to the street and the landscape – and yet do as little as possible. They considered it to be ‘both heroic and ordinary at the same time’. As the Jury Chairman said:
“It challenges current solutions to the housing crisis in European cities, where too often the only ambition is to build more homes year-on-year, while the more profound question of what type of housing should be built goes unanswered. Kleiburg helps us imagine a new kind of architectural project, which responds to changing household patterns and lifestyles in the twenty-first century. A revitalisation of typologies of the past is as relevant as experimenting with new, untested models in this quest, just as radically transforming existing buildings is.”
The project inspires reflection on the new and complex reality of contemporary living. It proposes new forms of “affordable housing”, adding to what is universally a complex and multi-layered offer (ranging from fully subsidized rent to shared ownership and rent-purchase schemes) by providing options for the large majority who have a little money but cannot afford to get on the conventional property ladder. This is low-cost habitable space (€1,200 per m2) – a fantastic new option that does not currently exist.
5 Social Housing Units in Navez / MSA / V+Brussels, Belgium
The Jury conveyed that housing is a vital topic throughout Europe and felt that MSA/V+ understood well and solved brilliantly the constructive and economic constraints of the programme and its site: 5 flats in a very small corner at the northern entrance of the city of Brussels. The Jury appreciated the high quality of the flats, which are unique and all provided with natural light from all orientations, outdoor spaces, impressive views and dynamic spatial experiences both in common and private spaces. They also recognised that the architects had carefully and meticulously worked with the integration of the building in the neighbourhood and the request to create a landmark.
Established in 1987 by the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe – Barcelona, the 60.000€ Mies Van der Rohe award is one of the most prestigious and important awards for European architecture. The prize is awarded biennially to works that have been completed in the past two years and “sets out to foster architecture in two significant ways: by stimulating greater circulation of professional architects throughout the entire European Union in response to transnational commissions and by supporting young architects as they set off on their careers.” The Fundació also publishes a catalogue for each edition of the award, featuring the selected entries and essays from jury members.
Previous winners have included Barozzi / Veiga's Philharmonic Hall Szczecin; the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik, designed by Henning Larsen in collaboration with the Icelandic practice Batteríið and the artist Olafur Elíasson; and the Neues Museum in Berlin, designed by David Chipperfield Architects and Julian Harrap.