The World Architecture Festival – Hank Koning

The World Architecture Festival – Hank Koning

While at the International Area Committee October Face to Face meeting in Singapore, I was lucky to be able to attend the World Architecture Festival – lucky in that Grohe, one of the sponsors, was nice enough to give me a free ticket, otherwise I have to say, it’s rather expensive. But it was delightful to be able to look at the 520 submissions (in the form of two boards) from all over the globe and to see which were fortunate enough to be short-listed.  Australian firms did very well in this regard. Of the 296 short-listed projects, 51 were by Australian firms. That’s quite an achievement.

So off I go to listen to a few presentations and then the Q and A session.  The architect for each short-listed project gets to make a 10 minute presentation about the project and to convince the jury that this is the next best thing and worthy of the award for that category. What fun to watch the different presentation methods by these high calibre architects! Some were very well presented and super slick, others adopted a softer, warmer, low key approach.  Ten minutes goes by very quickly, especially for a project that you may have spent a few years working on, but it is good discipline to be able to get at the essence of the project.

The jury members then get to ask the architects questions. The ones I saw were very polite, complimenting the project first before getting stuck into the presenter.  And it’s tough to see the presenters defend their projects without getting defensive (well most of them). I do enjoy seeing projects and presentations by architects from different countries but did not see a lot of cultural variation neither in projects nor presentations.

In addition to the shortlisted project presentations there were a number of interesting seminar/discussion sessions and keynote speeches, and I found the ones that I attended to be quite interesting ranging from the very pragmatic to the every esoteric. Australians Kerry Hill and Richard Hassell were both panelists, albeit in different sessions.

Unfortunately I had to leave Singapore on the Thursday night so was unable to attend the Friday Final awards presentations from which the World Building of the Year, Future Project of the Year and the Landscape of the year are selected. However in the 39 different categories, 7 projects from Australian firms received awards.  An excellent effort indeed, and I congratulate all the winners.

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