Winners Archiprix Netherlands 2019: Devant Asawla and Lesia Topolnyk

On Saturday June 22 the winners of the 39th edition of Archiprix were announced in Amsterdam.

This prize, for which the Dutch master's degree programs with their specializations in architecture, urban design and landscape architecture, annually submit their best graduation plans. For the first time this year the prize was also open for the master's programs in interior architecture. The line-up of the jury that judged the graduation projects of Archiprix 2019 is as follows: Marieke Berkers (theory), Harro de Jong (landscape architecture), Donna van Milligen Bielke (architecture), Jasper Nijveldt (urban design) and Eline Strijkers (interior design). The jury has awarded a shared first prize and four honourable mentions. The designers of the winning projects have made clear choices and handled those choices most consistently. These projects also possess a great spatial quality and great depth. The design proposals show these entrants to be hugely committed, which gives them a clear yet firm position on their subject. Lastly, they present inspirational solutions to relevant issues.

Shared first prize
The Living Landscape of Quebrada Jaime, designed by: Devant Asawla, TU-Delft faculty of Architecture (architecture)
This beautifully presented project explores the relationship between the city, the country and nature. Sited in Valparaiso in Chile on the steeply rising slopes in the city, the project seeks to apply the traditions and crafts of Valparaiso as a catalyst for developing a future perspective for the city and its inhabitants. It comfortably succeeds in this endeavour. The design consists of a beautifully conceived building complex containing a visitor centre, a research institute, an education centre and a facility for producing adobe building materials and regional wine. The project deftly resolves a number of local issues. It adds substance to the city’s tourist potential, offering the inhabitants on its slopes job opportunities and schooling so that they no longer need to descend to the port for their work and development. The building stitches together the various elements of its context; its programme has strong ties with the local economy. The design report presents an easy-to-read assessment of all relevant aspects of the brief. In a few deft steps it develops an exemplary approach to this location in perfect keeping with the design. The project is convincing and consistent in all its parts, up to and including the language used and the visuals.

Un-United Nations Headquarters, designed by: Lesia Topolnyk, Amsterdam University of the Arts, Academy of Architecture (architecture)
This fascinating design is for a building where representatives of different factions in conflict zones can meet on neutral territory. It sees its designer exploring the role architecture can play in absorbing conflict situations. Located in Crimea alongside Sevastopol Bay, the six-storey slab-shaped complex is lifted into space and consists entirely of corridors. Corridors symbolize the informal space that encourages politicians to engage in dialogue. For all its simplicity, the project has been incredibly well thought out. The new iconic image it conveys is in perfect keeping with the duty it is to perform. This stimulating concept has been worked up with extreme consistency and attests to its designer’s consummate skill. Interwoven with her personal history, the project succeeds convincingly in showing that architecture can give a meaningful impetus to dialogue. The presentation captures the design perfectly, illustrating the problems facing the world in uncompromising terms and then pushing them to an extreme.

Honourable mentions
Campanhã Urban Park, designed by: Stijn Lanters, Wageningen University (landscape architecture The beautifully designed park sits on the edge of Porto in the grounds of a disused power plant. Its designer seeks to address the wishes of the city’s inhabitants and succeeds admirably in his endeavour. He distils success factors from other examples of urban parks in a well-balanced and well-presented study. In addition the planning process takes account of those living in the area and how the place is being used today. Drawing on both the study and the wishes of local inhabitants, he succeeds in designing a persuasive project that binds all aspects together at multiple levels. The inhabitants get an appropriate place to meet and the park gets a meaningful place in the city infrastructure. This project with its strong design interventions, skilful approach and study is equally successful as a springboard from which to explore and develop the potentials of such indeterminate places.

Towards a Happier Havana, designed by: Iruma Rodríguez Hernández, Amsterdam University of the Arts, Academy of Architecture (urban design)
The designer’s enthusiasm and commitment is palpable in this urban design project for the area round the Almendares River in the heart of Havana. It was developed with the city’s inhabitants in mind. Workshops with the community provided a toolbox, which was then put to use in the design to test a number of relevant interventions. The project presentation is easy to read. The basic idea of a large park is interesting in strategic terms and could work well in practice. Although less convincing form-wise in the detail development, it is valid as a strategic plan and deserves a sequel.

Recycling Utopia: in progress, designed by: Goda Verikaite, Royal Academy of Art, Inside (interior design)
This interior design project looks at the options for the future of large-scale socialist housing in Lithuania and suggests a number of possible scenarios. The brief is relevant; not just Lithuania but the entire Eastern Bloc has such housing complexes and is faced with the same task. The video in the presentation is particularly instructive. It addresses the problems from the very smallest scale and from the very largest, tackling the major issues from the role of government to the residents’ satisfaction with life. The designer outlines various developments available to the basic walk-up block, depending on the nature of the residents. The project offers these a wide range of stimulating options: it presents them with a Utopia. Even so, it gets no further than a valuable initial stage of conceptual spatial models. There is no question of a full-fledged design.

Sino-African Counterpoints, designed by: Serah-Ingrid Calitz, TU-Delft faculty of Architecture (architecture)
This compelling final-year project presents a well-grounded alternative for developing urban projects in Tanzania instead of the China-financed Special Economic Zones. One such SEZ threatens to uproot more than ten thousand villagers in Bagamoyo. The project rightfully questions the Chinese development programme, which pays no heed to the inhabitants. It then goes on to present a worthwhile alternative which does involve the inhabitants, existing collectives and the traditional Swahili house. This house type, which has had a long history of development, gets an upgrade in the project. Underpinning the design is a conscientious study into the politics of relocation, the Swahili house and how designers can relate to these. The design for the house’s transformation is informed by the way these houses are used today and how the community has evolved. While the panel presentation is a little messy, the book is lucid and right on target.

All 30 submissions for Archiprix Netherlands 2019 are presented on the national website.

from left to right: Goda Verikaite, Devant Asawla, Serah-Ingrid Calitz, Stijn Lanters, Iruma Rodríguez Hernández, Lesia Topolnyk



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