Australia has over 30 buildings shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival
It is such a reflection of the anomalous times we are going through that so many of the wonderful Australian projects that were shortlisted Tuesday to the annual International Architecture Olympiad, the World Architecture Festival, are currently closed for the duration of the Eastern State lockdown .
Amazing, expensive and imaginative buildings that have been built for hospitality, entertainment, office work, shopping, health, athletics or armies of students and that have just been selected as being of world class design are for visits or the use they were intended for , made blocked.
As with the Tokyo Olympics, the WAF was postponed last year by the pandemic, and selected 2020 participants have been bundled with those of the 2021 competition, which will hopefully meet in Lisbon in early December to make the decision overall winners.
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The delay has resulted in some of the buildings that represent Australia now being familiar to us and much celebrated in our own award systems: The remarkable arts center that shows that brick can almost become fluid, Sydney’s Phoenix Central Park, competes in the cultural class alongside JPW’s square-shouldered and very concrete Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney.
Of the 17 entries in the culture group, eight come from China. It is noteworthy that China emerges as the greatest force in the 20 different categories of this increasingly prestigious competition, now in its 13th year – overwhelmingly numerically in almost all groupings.
But Australian sports facilities, all from Cox Architecture and various partners, including the renovations of the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney and the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, and in the expanded basket of the two-year shortlisted entries, the rather beautiful Queensland Countryland Bank Stadium in Townsville, name three possible winners among the narrow ranks of international stadiums.
Always trying to reflect the zeitgeist – which of course also includes the adapted thinking introduced by the global pandemic – this year’s WAF theme is “Resetting the City: Greening, Health and Urbanism”.
China is also strong on sustainable and nature-conscious projects, with 10 of the 14 nature-based landscape entries shortlisted.
But in the class of urban landscapes, Australia has two starters: Lyons with the Prahran Square project from ASPECT Studios in Melbourne and the Sydney Park Water Re-Use project from Turf Design Studio, a beautiful new public park with the dual function of a recreation room and being a purge and diverting rainwater rivers that polluted Botany Bay.
China represents half of the 14 other entries in this group.
In the international shortlist of 478 projects from 62 countries for 2021, Australian shapes are as amorphous as many new residential and commercial buildings around the world.
Wood Bagot’s Collins Arch building, already known to melburners as the “Pantscraper”, was shortlisted twice – mixed use and residential.
Terroir’s fantastically diverse Penguin Parade Visitor Center is just as structurally demanding as Kirk’s Mon Repos Turtle Center near Bundaberg, both in the exhibition category.
Fjmt’s UTS Central Building, which opened as a student center in 2019, is such a distinctive multi-circle building on Broadway in Sydney that it has become a landmark at the gateway to the city center. Next to it in the higher education category is Grimshaws Monash University Woodside Building for Technology and Design.
Overall, Australia has more than 30 buildings on the shortlist for 20/21 completed buildings. While some are conventional, square, and tailored to the sidewalk and boundaries, others just as unconventionally explore the warps and deviations in shape that new material technologies make possible.
One of the side events of the annual WAF are Future Projects, which look at buildings on the drawing board or just recently built from scratch around the globe.
If you look at the pictures by Foster + Partners for the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, the future of architecture looks increasingly daring and ingenious.
The WAF will take place from December 1st to 3rd in Lisbon, Portugal.
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