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ICONIC AWARDS 2019: Innovative Architecture

Architects' Client of the Year – Stadt Freiburg im Breisgau

New town hall in Freiburg by ingenhoven architects, Photo: Yohan Zerdoun

The city of Freiburg can rightly call itself one of the birthplaces of the environmental movement. In 1986 the municipal council approved a forward-looking energy supply concept based on the three pillars of energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Since then, a wide range of measures have led to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. By 2030 the city plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%, and by 2050 it hopes to become completely climateneutral. Although these targets may sound ambitious, the city’s level of engagement and commitment demonstrates that they can realistically be achieved. Freiburg has launched a wide range of projects, activities and initiatives to help it realise its sustainability targets and demonstrate its strong commitment to becoming a «green city». The city recognises that environmentally-friendly policies, solar technology, sustainability and climate protection need become driving forces in economic and urban development. The support of local residents is testament to the success of the city’s policies over the years.

Interior of the new town hall, photo: Yohan Zerdoun

Statement of the jury

The city of Freiburg has been committed to green development for decades. This has inevitably had an impact on the city’s urban development strategy, which has included the construction of two new residential districts – Vauban and Rieselfeld – with sustainable, low-energy housing for almost 15,000 residents. The town hall, which was completed at the end of 2017 and is the world’s first «net surplus energy» building, is another example of the city’s commitment to sustainability. The building generates more energy from renewable sources than it requires for heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting. Meanwhile, the Freiburg Sustainability Centre, which was founded in 2015, develops sustainable technologies and solutions in collaboration with the University of Freiburg and the city’s five Fraunhofer institutes. These are just some examples of the many sustainability projects that Freiburg is currently implementing. There is still a long way to go before the city meets its ambitious goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050. Nevertheless, Freiburg is certainly better positioned than other cities to achieve this target.

Architects of the Year – David Chipperfield Architects

Hoxton Press (Colville Towers), Photo: Simon Menges

David Chipperfield is from the UK and studied architecture at London Kingston University and the London-based Architectural Association, where he graduated in 1977. Before founding his own architecture firm in London in 1985 he worked for the prominent British architects Richard Rogers and Norman Foster. In addition to its London office, David Chipperfield Architects has branches in Berlin, Milan and Shanghai. The firm plans and implements a wide range of construction projects worldwide.

Since the start of his career, Chipperfield has received widespread acclaim for his clear, minimalist designs and expert handling of light, space and material. He has a characteristic, distinctive style which he has continued to develop over the years and which can best be described as a re-interpretation of the classic modern style with elements of contemporary Japanese architecture. Many of his iconic projects have caused a sensation, such as the River & Rowling Museum in Henley-on-Thames, the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany and the Ninetree Village in Hangzhou, China.

Over the course of his career David Chipperfield has received numerous international awards and honorary memberships, including the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, the German Federal Cross of Merit and the Mies van der Rohe Award. In 2012 he was the curator of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, and in 2010 he was knighted for his services to architecture.

SSENSE Montréal store concept, Photo: Simon Menges

Statement of the jury

Sir David Chipperfield is unquestionably one of the most distinguished and influential architects of our time. He has been producing iconic architectural designs for many years, thanks to which his projects around the world have consistently stood out from the masses. The completion of his four latest designs in 2018 clearly demonstrates that he is still far from reaching the limits of his creativity. It will be interesting to see what other surprises this exceptional architect has in store.

Interior Designers of the Year – Snarkitecture

Kith Los Angeles, CA, 2018, Photo: Noah Kalina

Snarkitecture is a New York-based design and art cooperative launched by Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen in 2008. Benjamin Porto joined the practice in 2014. Since it was founded the creative studio has attracted a huge amount of attention thanks to its unusual installations and art objects. Snarkitecture aims to remove spaces, objects and materials from their original context and interpret and arrange them in novel ways. This results in original spaces and objects full of poetic character and iconic appeal, inviting viewers to experience and explore them with all their senses.

Alex Mustonen graduated from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, where he met Daniel Arsham. Ben Porto studied architecture at Columbia University and worked for renowned architecture firms in New York, Chicago and Portland before becoming a partner at Snarkitecture.

Snarkitecture’s best-known projects include four store interiors for the streetware chain Kith, the COS Los Angeles store and the Valextra showroom. Other famous designs include the «Slip Chair», an unusually shaped chair which appears to be falling over, as well as a range of installations including «Altered Space», an installation created for the 2018 Salone del Mobile in Milan which depicts the changing forms of water in the kitchen, and «The Beach», an interactive interpretation of a day at the beach featuring a huge ball pool, which was displayed at the National Building Museum in Washington DC in 2015. The secret to the firm’s success: a childlike imagination and a carefree desire for the absurd. It’s no coincidence that its name is a reference to Lewis Caroll’s poem «The Hunting of the Snark».

Altered States, commissioned by Caesarstone, Milan, Italy, 2018, Photo: David Zanardi

Statement of the jury

Snarkitecture’s designs aren’t just special – they’re different, and sometimes even distorted. You have to engage with the design, brush aside conventional knowledge and accept the fantastical and the seemingly impossible, because that’s exactly what it’s about. It’s also why their original spaces, installations and unusual objects are so much fun and have such an emotional appeal.