Stating that “design and sustainability are indissociable”, the 2022 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, centered its nominations on social inclusion, sustainability and circularity, and aesthetic research. So far, 40 shortlisted projects are moving to the next level. The biennial contest that gives tribute to works completed within the previous two years in general, will announce the 5 finalist works in February 2022, and the winner in April 2022.
Focused on 3 main titles, "the European city: a model for the sustainable smart city", "defining common European culture while reflecting the diversity of expression" and "an architecture that has social impact and transmits a cultural message", we have grouped the selected projects, nominated by a jury formed by Tatiana Bilbao, Francesca Ferguson, Mia Hägg, Triin Ojari, Georg Pendl, Spiros Pengas and Marcel Smets to give a better understanding of the selection criteria and the architectural situation in Europe.
Read on to discover the criteria of selection behind the 40 shortlisted architecture projects.
Related Article40 Shortlisted Projects Announced for the EU Mies Award 2022
1-The European City: A Model for the Sustainable Smart City
Focusing on rethinking and re-planning Europe, this selection of projects made sure to recognize the transformation of the continent’s built environment and the contribution of European professionals in the development of new ideas, while prioritizing the present challenges of cities and the environment. Reflecting on architectural sustainability and on “how constructing new buildings nowadays must envision their next life”, the award selected projects sensitive to their future impact.
Believing that design and sustainability are indissociable, the selection highlights projects that tackled the challenges of the environment through a cultural lens. For the first time, trends have changed and housing programs have surpassed cultural functions. Answering the present challenges of cities, the award highlights the opportunities that these buildings introduce, especially in an urban context. In fact, 9 of the final shortlisted 40 projects, are collective housing architectural initiatives. Particularly outstanding in Vindmøllebakken Housing by Helen & Hard, located in Norway, the development can put together multiple configurations of living. In fact, this project comprises 40 co-living units, 4 townhouses, and 10 apartments, putting in place low-rise typologies with 3-5 stories built of prefabricated timber elements, that align with the tradition of the neighborhood. On another hand, Wohnregal Apartments and Ateliers by FAR frohn&rojas in Berlin, is a 6-story building housing life/work ateliers, that bridges that addresses the rising construction cost for housing in the city through industrial prefabrication.
Regeneration projects have also surpassed previous years, mostly focused on transforming existing constructions into cultural and educational buildings or restoring the urban realm. In the Czech Republic, for example, petrjanda/brainwork revitalized Prague’s riverfront by focusing on the riverfront architecture, allowing the flow of cultural life. In Austria, New Gallery and Casemates by Bevk Perović arhitekti dealt with the issue of reconstruction and integration of historical layers into the life of the city. This historical complex, hidden for a long time took on a new programmatic definition while staying true to its essence.
Urban agriculture is considered a solution with great potential for tomorrow. In France, the Cité Maraîchère in Romainville by Ilimelgo is located within a neighborhood undergoing regeneration. A new destination for agricultural, social, architectural, and technical innovation, the complex is a new municipal facility for urban agriculture and sustainable food, linking traditional and modern market-gardening practices. While density can be seen as a form of sustainability, the relationship between the old urban fabric and the increase of density is pretty fragile, as often, neighborhoods tend to lose their character. In Bucharest, ADNBA finds an answer to this problem by mediating between different sizes and densities in Urban Spaces 2 / Mumuleanu 14 Apartment Building.
2- Defining Common European Culture While Reflecting Diversity of Expression
Showcasing equity and democracy through inclusion and acceptance of diversity, while defining a common European cultural expression, the selection of projects has seen this year an increase of transitional works. In other words, architects from one country have built in another one and projects have been collaborations between architecture offices, teaming up with local partners.
Promoting diversity through the creation of spaces for all, in Finland, OOPEAA conceived Tikkurila Church and Housing, a multifunctional complex containing a church with a café, meeting spaces for the community as well as offices accompanied by an adjoining apartment building offering student housing and affordable rental apartments with shared facilities and retail space. Forming one unity, the church and the housing block, serve the residents of Tikkurila, one of the fastest-growing and ethnically most diverse areas in the metropolitan region of Helsinki. In Portugal, Marquis of Abrantes Palace by ateliermob + Working with the 99% is a project linked to dual realities, that tries to ensure that through a process of collective questioning and decision-making, we can go against the logic of eviction of the working class allowing, on the contrary, their fixation. The public building that served since the XX Century as popular housing, is nowadays, the headquarters of one of the city's oldest collectivities.
The Neue Nationalgalerie by David Chipperfield Architects is a great example of transitional works. Imagined by a British firm, the building originally built in the 60s was originally conceived by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. After almost fifty years of intensive use, the existing fabric has been refurbished and upgraded to current technical standards with a minimum of visual compromise to the building’s original appearance. In addition, Kingston University Town House by Dublin-based Grafton Architects is a landmark teaching building in London. Designed to act as the University’s front door and a gateway to Kingston upon the Thames, Town House is part of a new vision for Kingston, encouraging informal learning and building stronger links with the town center, and connecting its vibrant student population with the local community.
3- An Architecture That Has Social Impact and Transmits A Cultural Message
Highlighting the essence of things rather than their formal values, the selected 40 show that quality can be understood in many different ways. Transmitting notions of culture and education, the architecture of these projects has a strong social connection, implicating users and enhancing their life. Moreover, these structures take advantage of existing opportunities and dictate trends of the future, centered on social inclusion, sustainability and circularity, and aesthetic research.
In Spain, La Borda housing cooperative is a development self-organized by its users to access decent, non-speculative housing that places its use-value in the center, through a collective structure. Located on a public land of social housing, the project’s idea was born in 2012, engaging the community in the process of recovery of the industrial premises, and the neighborhood and cooperative fabric of the Sants neighborhood of Barcelona. In France, the Pierres Blanches Cultural Center, designed by RAUM reinforced the landscape continuity between the North and South of the city, offering a place-identity for this new associative and cultural center by promoting the development of the sports center, and creating a quality green space.
Among the 40 projects, 7 cultural functions and 6 educational facilities were chosen. Representing the future of education and architecture for the Italian school, the Enrico Fermi School by BDR bureau in Italy has been extended and it is functionally rethought. Initially built in the 1960s, the rehabilitation process allowed the school to become an integral part of the community, merging with the urban fabric. In Belgium, XDGA - Xaveer De Geyter Architects conceived the Melopee School, a combination of a primary school, after-school care center, a nursery, and sports facilities for both the school and its neighborhood, is diverse and extensive. Located within a site that faces one green area at its south side, the dock on its west side, a square and a housing block on the north, and the harbor road on the east, the project is part of OMA’s master plan that includes green open pockets alternate with dense construction. Dorte Mandrup A/S creates a modern building in perfect harmony with the Wadden Sea’s nature and history, in Denmark. The cultural building emerges from the ground and takes on thatched roof and facades.
Finally, talking about trends, LocHal Library by CIVIC architects + Braaksma & Roos architectenbureau + Inside Outside + Mecanoo redefines the library typology. Coined ‘the next big thing in public libraries’ by experts, the project kept traditional ‘book consumer’ facilities, while providing ample opportunity for the creation of new knowledge, and facilitating the growing importance of ‘Curatorship’. The Second Home Holland Park by Selgascano is all about scale, due to the amount of history in the place. Small, it is made up of five existing buildings which altogether are only 800 sqm, and all of them different in periods and shapes.