18 June 2021
The respectful renovation of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, a large-scale, complex building; the reconversion in Onda, Castellón, of an archaeological site listed as an asset of cultural interest into a living, modern public space; the unique and sensitive approach to the urban landscape of the La Nova Esquerra de l'Eixample neighbourhood in Barcelona; or the showcasing of a Japanese methodology that suggests how heritage should be transmitted, are among the winners of the 5th edition of the European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention. The jury has chosen 15 finalists, four winning projects and two Special Mentions for Restoration from a total of 294 entries.
Now in its fifth edition, the European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention, a biennial award organised by the COAC (Association of Architects of Catalonia) and the AADIPA (Association of Architects for the Defence and Intervention in Architectural Heritage), and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Catalonia and Barcelona City Council, has grown by 25% in respect of the number of entries, with almost 300 projects from 23 countries. These figures are testament to the success and consolidation of an award which, as it celebrates its tenth anniversary, has become a beacon for architectural restoration in Europe.
On June 17, 2021, the winners of the 5th European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention were announced by the jury in the courtyard of the Frederic Marès Museum, a historical site in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. The announcement of the 15 finalists, four winning works and two Special Mentions for Restoration was made during the 5th International Architectural Heritage Intervention Biennial. The awards were presented by Ms Elsa Ibar, Director General for Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Catalonia, Mr Marc-Aureli Santos, Director of Urban Architecture and Heritage of the Office of the Chief Architect of Barcelona City Council; Mr Albert Civit, Director of the Catalan Land Institute; Mr Albert Gassull, Director of Services of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona; Mr Antoni Vilanova, President of the AADIPA; and Ms Assumpció Puig, Dean of the Association of Architects of Catalonia.
In category A) Intervention in built heritage, the jury, in a first round of evaluations and with the goal of giving visibility to a larger number of works, announced the shortlist of 16 works on 20 May 2021, from which —following its final deliberation— it has selected five finalists, which are:
- Hotel Nomad, Basel, Switzerland. Buchner Bründler Architekten
- Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland. k2s architects + Arkkitehdit NRT
- Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA), Antwerp, Belgium. KAAN Architecten
- Brasserie Gallia, Pantin, France. Maxime Jansens Architecture + Erwan Bonduelle Architecture
- BIC Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza, Santa Olaja de Eslonza, León, Spain. Rodríguez Valbuena Arquitectos
From among the five finalists, the jury has decided to give the award to the project of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA) in the city of Antwerp, Belgium, by the KAAN Architecten firm. This decision is based on the jury’s evaluation of two aspects in particular: on the one hand, the fact that the complexity and large scale of the project have not impeded it from resolving the modernisation of the building in a unitary, respectful manner; and, on the other hand, that the need to incorporate new volumes has not altered the exterior and interior perception of the museum while adapting to and fitting in with the new needs. Furthermore, although the project redefines the museum as a whole, the perception and authenticity of the building have not been altered, despite the contrast between areas. In fact, in some of the areas, the utmost respect is shown towards the existing elements, while in other areas the new additions coexist harmoniously with the existing elements.
In category B) Exterior Spaces, from among the ten works shortlisted by the jury, the following five finalists have been selected:
- Deep Matter Garden, Capiago Intimiano, Italy. CE-A studio + Carlo Ezechieli
- The Dunbar Battery, Dunbar, Scotland, United Kingdom. Rankinfraser landscape architecture
- Tintagel Castle Footbridge, Tintagel, United Kingdom. William Matthews associates + Ney & Partners
- Can Sau. Emergency Scenery, Olot, Girona, Spain. unparelld'arquitectes
- Plaza de la Sinagoga (Synagogue Square), Onda, Castellón, Spain. El fabricante de espheras, Grupo Aranea, Cel-Ras Arquitectura
In category B, the jury has decided that the winning entry is the Synagogue Square project in Onda, Castellón (Spain), by El fabricante de espheras, Grupo Aranea and Cel-Ras Arquitectura, an intervention in an 11th and 12th-century archaeological heritage site listed as an asset of cultural interest since 1967. This project, carried out at a very run-down site, successfully showcases the remains that have been found —ancient Arab palaces or the ruins of a Christian church—, showing their historical urban importance while managing to adapt the site as a meeting space. Another outstanding aspect of the project is its solution for integrating the different levels, restoring old walls and creating shady areas by playing with the light generated by the large metal structure in the centre that connects the upper level. Meanwhile, the strategic planting of trees softens the materiality of the constructed elements, generating welcoming areas for relaxation, while the austere lines and materials are naturally integrated in the urban setting. The result is an archaeological site that has become a living, modern space.
In category C) Planning, the four finalists are:
- Urban planning favours heritage. Vic, Barcelona, Spain. Vic City Council
- Study of the urban landscape of the La Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample neighbourhood. Barcelona, Spain. Sara Bartumeus, Anna Renau and Rosa Escala
- Special Plan for the walled village Mas de Bondia. Montornès de Segarra, Lleida, Spain. Territorisxl
- Preliminary study for the restoration of the Canal de la Infanta and Rec Vell (Old Irrigation Canal). Barcelona, Spain. Eva Jiménez Gómez, Xavier Llobet i Ribeiro and Ferran Sagarra i Trias
In category C, the jury has decided that the award goes to the Study of the urban landscape of the La Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample neighbourhood in Barcelona, by the architects Sara Bartumeus, Anna Renau and Rosa Escala. This project stands out for the singularity and sensitivity shown in the approach to a historical space, attaching importance not so much to physical buildings but rather to their negative, to collective memory and to the relations generated around the gaps and the landscapes created there. Another important aspect is the fact that the project setting involves the added difficulty of being a space that for many people forms part of the modern city and lacks clear heritage values.
In category D) Dissemination, the five finalists are:
- Two Houses. Weimar, Germany. Verena von Beckerath.
- DOCOMOMO Iberian Records: documentation and dissemination of the Modern Movement. Barcelona, Spain. Iberian DOCOMOMO Foundation
- Good practices in volunteering for European Cultural Heritage. European Heritage Volunteers
- Industrial Heritage of Tbilisi. Georgia. MUA
- Re-Edificatoria. Barcelona, Spain. Adrià Goula
The winning entry is Two Houses, by Verena von Beckerath. The jury has rewarded the idea of showcasing a piece of history, of how a group of Japanese architects who studied at the Bauhaus in the 1920s later transmitted in their own country the architectural knowledge they had acquired, and how their students, in the 21st century, receive and make their own a heritage that goes beyond architecture itself. That is why this methodology should be acknowledged with an award as an example of how heritage should be transmitted and of how the circle should be closed.
Meanwhile, the Special Mention for Restoration is an award which, from all the submitted entries, goes to the intervention which, from a technical and methodological perspective, has stood out most for its quality, precision and respect. Having carefully analysed all the entries in all the categories, in this edition it has been decided to give this award to two projects whose programmes share the characteristic of offering an accessible, restored space that respects the identity of the work. The first entry, the Casa Batlló project, by Xavier Villanueva, Ignasi Villanueva, Mireia Bosch and Ana Atance, offers a technically high-quality and respectful restoration that enables the resurgence of an initial project that had partially disappeared, successfully reclaiming an altered work. The second project is the Restoration of the Tower of the Church of Santa María Magdalena in Matapozuelos, Valladolid (Spain), by Pedro Rodríguez Cantalapiedra. This intervention, which is also of an extremely high technical standard, enables an interior part of the building to be revealed by means of an ascent to the tower that offers a new use: the enjoyment of the unparalleled panoramic view of the setting. In short, this work exemplifies how the techniques, rigour and methodology involved in a restoration project can be more easily appreciated if the programme enables the general public to imbue the place with life.
From March 26, the closing date of the registration period, until the end of May, the international jury formed by renowned experts in the field of intervention in architectural heritage, have carried out the task of assessing the works that in each of the 4 categories will be considered for the award. In category A - Intervention in built heritage - architects António Jorge Fontes, David Lorente and Marco Antonio Garcés have evaluated 202 projects. On the other hand, in Category B -External Spaces- the experts Delphine Péters, Olga Felip and Isabel Aguirre have been analyzing 49 proposals. In category C -Planning- professionals Sebastià Jornet, Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea and Sascha Wienecke have evaluated 14 projects and in category D -Dissemination- Peter Cachola Schmal, Laida Memba and Joan Olona have studied 29 works.
The 5th edition of The European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention, directed by Ramon Calonge, Oriol Cusidó, Marc Manzano and Jordi Portal; members of the Association of Architects for the Defence and Intervention in Architectural Heritage AADIPA, celebrates the success and consolidation of a call that, as it celebrates its tenth anniversary, has become a beacon for architectural restoration in Europe.