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ICONIC AWARDS 2020: Innovative Architecture

Architects' Client of the Year – Adidas AG

The German sportswear manufacturer adidas is an internationally oriented corporation that employs more than 59,000 people from over 100 countries. The roots of this successful company go back to the 1920s when brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler began mass production of sports shoes. After the brothers had gone their separate ways, in 1949 Adi Dassler launched the well-known brand with its distinctive three stripes, calling it adidas as an abbreviated form of his first and last names. When the German national football team became world champions in 1954, the players wore innovative footwear from adidas, which helped the brand to make its international breakthrough. Today the company, whose headquarters are in Herzogenaurach, is managed from other main offices in Amsterdam, Portland, Boston, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Panama.

Statement of the jury

Employees at the company's headquarters are accommodated in two buildings that developed in quick succession on its "World of Sports" campus in Herzogenaurach. For these adidas commissioned BEHNISCH ARCHITEKTEN and COBE Copenhagen – two renowned architecture firms whose iconic designs make waves worldwide. Although the two buildings are notably different in their aesthetics, they nevertheless reflect the brand values of the world-famous sportswear manufacturer – performance, passion, integrity, diversity – with consistency and clarity right down to the details both inside and out. Two remarkable projects which, with their iconic architecture, not only do justice in a very particular way to the company's aspirations of modernity and contemporary functionality, but which are also a striking testament to adidas's visionary strength and its readiness for the extraordinary.

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Architects of the Year – Kengo Kuma and Associates

The architectural firm Kengo Kuma and Associates was established in 1990 by Kengo Kuma. The architect born in 1954 in Yokohama studied at the University of Tokyo, where he has been a professor since 2009. Kuma's works are a revolutionary re-interpretation of traditional Japanese forms and modes of construction, in which he establishes a close physical and optical connection to nature and which place a heavy emphasis on sustainability. Kuma appreciates natural building materials. Wood is one of his preferred materials, which has a marked effect on the form language and aesthetics of many of his designs. Kuma and his team have been honoured with many prizes in the course of his career.

Statement of the jury

A jury has bestowed the title Architects of the Year on an extraordinary architectural firm that is currently regarded internationally as one of the most influential creators of contemporary structures with its iconic designs. The latest projects, such as V&A Dundee, The Exchange and Ochanomizu are the provisional highpoints of an impressive gallery of work that convinces with consistently high design quality. What is remarkable is the skilled handling of light in combination with an airily structured façade, which endow buildings like V&A Dundee or The Exchange with an almost immaterial charm. These are designs of such power and quality that they not only give the observer pause, but also have the power to touch them.  

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Interior Designers of the Year – Alberto Caiola Studio

The Alberto Caiola Studio was established in 2014 in Shanghai, China, and quickly made a name for itself with its extraordinary interior projects. Alberto Caiola concentrates on projects in China, although the reputation of the studio has long since spread beyond Asia. The Momenti restaurant, the roof-top club NYX and retail area Crash Baggage @ La Fayette – all of these projects are in Shanghai – are impressive testimonies to extraordinarily creative recent work.

Statement of the jury

Alberto Caiola's work suspends the boundaries between classic interior design and art installation in a very special way. Anyone who visits the projects does not just enter a room, but rather Caiola allows the visitors to discover often surreal worlds and experience them with all of their senses. This has led to the creation both of intriguing installations with a high show value, such as the extravagant retail space Crash Baggage @ La Fayette as well as visually fascinating locations like the roof top club NYX, inspired by Greek antiquity, in whose immaterial scenery you can immerse yourself and leave the real world behinds for the period of your stay.

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