Transformation of 530 Homes – Grand Parc Bordeaux by Lacaton & Vassal architectes, Frédéric Druot Architecture and Christophe Hutin Architecture has been awarded the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. The innovative renovation of three large blocks of social housing in Bordeaux was praised for “radically improving the space and quality of life of its occupants” and for optimizing their economic and environmental cost of living.
The transformation of the buildings gives all dwellings new qualities of space and living by inventorying very precisely the existing qualities that should be preserved, and what was missing that should be added. As a result, large winter gardens and balconies have been added to allow each apartment to enjoy more space, natural light, and mobility. Existing small windows are replaced by large glazed sliding doors to the winter gardens.
We want to involve the public and European institutions in spreading the influence of this Award beyond architectural circles, enhancing the capacity for mediation of architecture with all social actors, especially in relation to concepts that are fundamental today, like identity, social inclusion and all aspects of sustainability.
- Anna Ramos, Director Fundació Mies van der Rohe
The project also features new access halls and gardens to the front of the building, with families not required to move during the construction. Due to the goal of transforming the building without relocating residents, the project excluded interventions on the existing structure, stairs or floors, and only refurbishes facilities or finishes inside the flats.
3.8-meter-deep extensions to the building are made from prefabricated modules, constructed from precast slabs and columns transported to the site and lifted into position. As well as widening the space, the extensions connect every room to the winter gardens, creating a pleasant private semi-outdoor space that enhances the energy performance of the building envelope.
Along the added structure, original windows are removed in a specific intervention to treat asbestos-contiminated seals. Behind the new floor-to-ceiling glass, thermal curtains provide extra insulation to the heated interiors. On the other side, a lightweight façade of transparent, corrugated polycarbonate panels and glass in aluminum frames is assembled and equipped with reflective solar curtains.
The Jury valued that the project challenges the existing European housing stock from the post war period, using minimum means to achieve a maximum effect. Instead of demolishing, which involves the use of an important amount of energy, in this case the client understood and supported the advantages of transforming the existing three buildings. This has changed people’s lives for the better without underestimating their previous lives, filling the new volume with poetry because it works with the basis that people understand space and in consequence, they use it in very different ways.
The winning scheme emerged from five finalists, which was chosen from a shortlist of 40 projects, celebrating the trends and opportunities in adaptive reuse, housing, and culture across Europe. This year, 383 works were nominated for the Prize, hailing from 38 countries across the European continent.
Also awarded was the Emerging Architecture 2019 prize, dedicated to the Toulouse-based studio BAST for their school cafeteria in Montbrun-Bocage near the French Pyrenees: an extension to a small village school that closes the playground physically but not visually.
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.
The EU Mies Award brings together the diversity of European architecture and culture and promotes architecture worldwide. Every two years it sets new directions for architecture with the Winners, the finalists and all those works represented in it. - Dorte Mandrup, Chairwoman EU Mies Award 2019
Previous winners have included NL Architects and XVW Architectuur’s deFlat, 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.