Two Italian projects at the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture

Sauerbruch Hutton, Canali Associati,

Alessandra Chemollo, Hisao Suzuki, Alessandro Ciampi, Iwan Baan, Hufton+Crow, Christian Richters,

Mestre, Italia, Arezzo,



Two projects built in Italy are competing for the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award: the M9 Museum District by Sauerbruch Hutton and the Prada productive headquarters by Canali associati. The judges published the list of forty projects competing for the prize on January 16.

Two Italian projects at the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture

On January 16 the European Commission and Fundació Mies van der Rohe published the list of architectural projects selected in the first phase of the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award.
The panel of judges chaired by Dorte Mandrup and also including architects George Arbid, Angelika Fitz, Ștefan Ghenciulescu, Kamiel Klaasse, María Langarita and Frank McDonald examined the 383 works nominated for the award and selected forty of them. The shortlisted projects represent the cream of European architecture, illustrating current trends in Europe in the areas of building reclamation, residential architecture and architecture for culture. As Dorte Mandrup noted, “ The 40 works highlight a new agenda that asks for new ways of thinking. Excellence and skilfulness are inherent in all of them, but this is not enough; it is necessary that they also make an impact and make architects themselves think differently about the profession.”

The judges selected only two of the seventeen projects in Italy nominated for the EU Mies Award: M9 Museum District in Mestre by Sauerbruch Hutton of Berlin and the headquarters of prominent fashion brand Prada in Arezzo, designed by Italian studio Canali Associati. Dorte Mandrup’s words apply perfectly to the Italian projects shortlisted for the award. Sauerbruch Hutton’s project, for example, centres around a digital museum of twentieth-century history, but it is much more than a museum. M9 Museum District is an important urban regeneration project for Mestre. Architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara also selected the project for the 16th International Architecture Show at La Biennale di Venezia, exhibited at the Corderie dell’Arsenale. The FREESPACE curators selected the M9 Museum District for the principal show in the architecture biennale because of its great value for urban planning. As Christiane Bürklein noted, the M9 Museum District is an innovative urban regeneration project which acts as a bridge between the city’s past and present, in which culture acts as a driving force for social change.

Cultural buildings are the best-represented type among the 40 buildings shortlisted for the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. The 15 cultural buildings included in the shortlist include museums, cultural centres, theatres and an auditorium/congress centre, including one of the two Italian projects selected, as we have seen. The second most common type of building shortlisted for the EU Mies Award also has to do with culture: six projects for education, including schools, universities and libraries. The third most common category is collective housing, with five shortlisted projects.
Jury member Angelika Fitz, curator at Architekturzentrum Wien, notes that the shortlisted works reveal that people no longer perceive architecture as self-referential, but as a tool that can make a real improvement to human life and the way we live together.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Images courtesy of Fundació Mies van der Rohe
2-3: Sauerbruch Hutton, M9 Museum District, photo by Alessandra Chemollo
4-5: Canali Associati, Prada productive headquarters, photo by Alessandro Ciampi
6: BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group LEGO HOUSE photo by Iwan Baan
7: McCullough Mulvin Architects, St. Mary's Medieval Mile Museum, photo by Christian Richters
8-9: Coussée & Goris architecten, RCR Arquitectes - De Krook library photo by Hisao Suzuki
10-11: Stanton Williams Architects Museum of Arts, Nantes photo by Hufton + Crow