A focus on social issues, reuse and reclamation of the built heritage, and a form of architecture that returns to the virtuous practices of traditional ecological construction, are the leitmotifs of the World Architecture Festival (WAF) held in the first week of December in Amsterdam.
At least this would appear to be the case in view of the winning projects. The World Building of The Year 2019 award, for example, was presented to LocHal Public Library, a project for transformation of a former railway shed into a new kind of public library by Civic architects, Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau and Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse.
The prize for World Interior of the Year 2019 went to JCA Living Lab by studio J.C. Architecture, another project involving transformation and reuse of an existing building, a former Japanese army barracks in Taipei, now a modern family home.
A focus on community and architecture that affirms its contemporary style without denying local tradition are themes that also appear in the project by Mexican architectural studio Comunal Taller de Arquitectura, winner of the AR Emerging Architecture Awards. Established in 1999, the AR Emerging Architecture Awards are presented to young architects and architectural studios with the aim of identifying and promoting the world leaders in the architecture of the future. Shigeru Ban, Anna Heringer, Thomas Heatherwick, Jürgen Mayer H, Frida Escobedo and, back in the early years of the award, Sean Godsell, are a few of the architects who have won AR Emerging Architecture Awards in the past.
Comunal Taller de Arquitectura was shortlisted along with fifteen other finalists and selected for the AR Emerging Architecture Award by a panel of judges including architects who have won the awards in the past: Anna Heringer of Anna Heringer Architecture, winner of the AR Emerging Architecture Award in 2006 and 2008; Irish architect Níall McLaughlin of Níall McLaughlin Architects, a finalist in 2002; and Sou Fujimoto of Sou Fujimoto Architects, who won the award in 2006 for his Children's Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in Hokkaido, Japan.
At the World Architecture Festival, Comunal Taller de Arquitectura presented a social housing project for the rural village of Tepetzintán, Mexico, the project that attracted the attention of the judges of the AR Emerging Architecture Awards.
In the opinion of architects Mariana Ordóñez Grajales and Jesica Amescua Carrera of Comunal, architecture is not just an "object" but a participatory process to which residents bring their own ideas, needs and aspirations.
The project built for the community of Tepetzintán mediates between the population’s requirements and national regulations: in order to qualify for state subsidies, the architects had to build homes in which the most widely available local construction material, bamboo, does not play a structural role. In this project, architecture took an important first step toward dialoguing with the institutions in order to obtain public recognition for traditional local construction techniques.
Proiect: Social Housing II
Architects: Comunal Taller de Arquitectura https://www.comunaltaller.com/
Location: Tepetzintán, Mexico
Images courtesy of AR Emerging Architecture awards
(01-03) Comunal Taller de Arquitectura, Social Housing II, photo by Onnis Luque
(04) Estudio MMX International Fair of Friendly Culture
(05) Estúdio Gustavo Utrabo Children Village Canuana
(06 - 18 ) shortlist of AR Emerging Architecture awards