Categories ArchitecturePosted on

And the EU-Mies ven der Rohe’s Award Goes To…

The biennial European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, also known as the Mies van der Rohe Award, has been presented in a ceremony that took place at the Barcelona Pavilion on 26th May. For the first time, the main award went to a renovation project of an existing building: DeFlat Kleiburg in Amsterdam by NL architects and XVW architectuur, while Brussels studios MSA/V+ were awarded the Emerging Architect Prize for the work NAVEZ – 5 social units at the northern entrance to Brussels.

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The Mies Award, founded in 1987, recognises the quality and relevance of the collective housing programme. The only UK-based finalist firm was the RIBA award-winning Ely Court London, a housing scheme in north-west London by Alison Brooks, that was shortlisted along with four other projects from all over the world. This prestigious architectural prize was competed for by more than 350 entrants that made it onto the longlist.

Alison Brooks Architects South Kilburn Estate photographed by Pa

The winner of the €60,000 (£51,000) award was DeFlat Kleiburg, signed by NL architects (who were awarded the Emerging Architect Prize of the EU Mies Award in 2005 for their work BasketBar, in Utrecht), and XVW architectuur. This project is an innovative renovation of one of the biggest apartment buildings in the Netherlands, called Kleiburg; a slab block with 500 apartments in Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer neighbourhood. They rescued the building from the wrecking ball for client Kondor WesselsVastgoed by turning it into a “Klusflat”, meaning that the inhabitants renovate their apartments by themselves.

As the jury chairman said, it “challenges current solutions to the housing crisis in European cities, where too often the only ambition is to build more homes year-on-year, while the more profound question of what type of housing should be built goes unanswered. Kleiburg helps us imagine a new kind of architectural project, which responds to changing household patterns and lifestyles in the 21st Century.”

The Brussels studios MSA and V+ picked up the 2017 Emerging Architect Prize for the work NAVEZ – 5 social units at the northern entrance of the Belgian capital, a housing project that fulfills the double ambition of the local authorities: to represent the urban revalidation scheme with a landmark at the entrance of the city, and to provide exemplary apartments for large families. The client is the City of Schaerbeek.

The Winners of the Prize and the Special Mention also receive a sculpture evoking Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion, the genuine symbol of the Award. Regarded as one of the best architectural works of the twentieth century, the Pavilion embodies the main objectives that led to the institution of the Award: excellence and innovation in conceptual and constructional terms.

Previous winners have included David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin (2011), Stansted Airport by Norman Foster (1990) and Waterloo International railway station by Nicholas Grimshaw (1994).

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