Once again this year, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has recognised international architectural excellence by awarding the RIBA International Prize, just as coveted as the famous Pritzker Prize. The award follows rigorous deliberations by a jury of experts who selected 20 worthy projects as recipients of the RIBA Awards for International Excellence, decreeing the winner on 28 November.
Always very attentive to the latest news in the world of architecture, Corradi closely followed every stage of the award, paying particular attention to the projects related to the outdoors and Italian excellence.
So let's take a look at the works that triumphed at this 2018 RIBA International Prize.
RIBA International Prize: the prize and its values
The RIBA International Prize is awarded every two years by the professional association of British architects. The recognition aims to identify the building that best represents "design excellence and architectural ambition, providing a significant social impact". The works selected to compete for the prize can either be new constructions or renovations, residential, scholastic, cultural or religious buildings, all demonstrating ingenuity, mastery in the construction and ability to integrate with the surrounding environment.
In May, the 20 best buildings at an international level were chosen, all recipients of the RIBA Awards for International Excellence. The international jury presided over by the architect Elizabeth Diller (Studio Diller, Scofidio and Renfro in New York) selected four finalists, and then the winner of the RIBA International Prize.
The 20 best buildings on an international level
The first phase of the award saw the emergence of 20 exceptional projects in 16 different countries of the world, all deserving of representing the social role of architecture at the international level. The projects included schools, private homes, urban infrastructure, places of worship and spaces for socialisation.
Some examples? Excluding the four finalists, the best buildings included:
- Buendner Kunstmuseum Chur in Switzerland
- BBVA Bancomer Tower in Mexico
- Captain Kelly's Cottage in Australia
- Lanka Learning Centre in Sri Lanka
- M4 Metro Line in Budapest
- Mount Herzl Memorial Hall, at the entrance to Israel's national cemetery
- Nantes Museum of Art in France
- Audain Art Museum
- Sancaklar Foundation Mosque
- Voorlinden Museum in Holland
- Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre in Athens
- Studio Dwelling at Rajagiriya in Sri Lanka
- Tatsumi Apartment House in Tokyo
- Ancient Church of Vilanova De La Barca in Spain
- University of Amsterdam
- Xiao Jing Wan University in Shenzhen, China
Of these, the Audain Art Museum and the Sancaklar Foundation Mosque particularly impressed us with their innovation and the ability to achieve perfect harmony with the surrounding environment. The former is a museum built on the edge of a conifer forest in Canada and conceived as a bridge that hovers in the trees, blending beautifully with nature. The latter, located in Istanbul, is a modern interpretation of the traditional mosque. The area dedicated to prayer is built on the slope of a hill, and the entrance – just one used by both men and women – makes its way through raw stone stairs and wild flowers.
But what about the four finalists? And which of them won the 2018 RIBA International Prize?
An example of Italian excellence included among the finalists of the 2018 RIBA International Prize
One of the four works that reached the finals was the all-Italian example of excellence known as the Vertical Forest of Milan (Boeri Studio for COIMA, Hines). This project represents a new approach to the classic conception of the skyscraper that contributes to regenerating urban biodiversity by bringing together humans, trees, plants and shrubs. The jury's explanation of their decision to select it as a finalist confirmed its excellence: "By realising the combination of biodiversity and busy urban life and creating its own microclimate, the Vertical Forest influences the density and quality of the air, giving life, in this way, to an architectural botany that is both compelling and surprising".
Another exceptional finalist project is the renovation (albeit still partial) of the Central European University of Budapest - Phase 1 by O'Donnel and Tuomey. The objective of the work is to bring together the university buildings with internal paths made of local stone and bricks, thus putting into practice the sense of connection and community that the University seeks to promote.
The Tokyo Toho Gakuen Music School (by the Nikken Sekkei studio) also earned a spot among the four finalists. It is a virtuous example of architecture distinguished by a careful study of the proportions of the rooms, designed to be suitable for each type of instrument. The rooms are separate and soundproof, but they also have windows on one side so to allow a visual connection between the musicians.
Top honours of the RIBA International Prize – as well as of the 2018 RIBA International Emerging Architect – went to Children Village, designed by the Brazilian studio Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum for the Bradesco Foundation.
Children Village: a sense of belonging and eco-sustainability
Children Village is the best new international work according to the Royal Institute of British Architects. It is a school on the edge of the rainforest north of Brazil, built by architects Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes (Aleph Zero) in partnership with the architects Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela (Studio Rosenbaum) and funded by the Bradesco Foundation to offer accommodations to 540 children attending Canuana high school. The cooperation of the students was critical for the development of the project, contributing with their ideas to the creation of a structure able to satisfy the needs of young people and thus creating a comfortable, familiar environment. The materials used in the structures were all locally sourced, like the wood used for the roofs. The buildings are organised around three large courtyards, creating a work that is sustainable both from an environmental and an economic point of view. integrata con l'ecosistema circostante.
These were the protagonists of the 2018 RIBA International Prize, once again representative of the quality achieved by architecture all over the world. Innovation, design and attention to the needs of people: these are the values of RIBA, the same that Corradi shares every day with its outdoor spaces to be fully experienced.