Leaf Awards 2010

‘Crossing borders to create excellence in architecture’ is the strap line for The Emirates Glass Leaf Awards 2010 and, at the Awards ceremony in London last Friday evening, I certainly wasn’t disappointed – the event brought together a global cross section of innovative and inspiring schemes.

Represented in ten categories, winners ranged from Broadcasting Place, Leeds, by the UK’s Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (mixed-use building of the year) to Plus, Izu-san, Japan, by Mount Fuji Architects Studio (residential building of the year – single occupancy). The former is an excellent example of good contemporary design in an historic setting, the latter a bold weekend villa in white marble hanging above the Pacific Ocean.

Boogertman + Partners’ Soccer City National Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, took the overall 2010 Leaf Award. Inspired by the traditional African calabash, the stadium form is immediately recognisable as being African. The layered facade results from an overlay of ordering devices and patterning ideas and is alternatively made up of open or glazed panels, and fibre-reinforced concrete panels, in eight colours and two different textures.

Surprisingly, in the best sustainable development category only three (rather than four) schemes were shortlisted – a commercial development, a demonstration house and a school. Ben Nakamura’s Nanasawa Kibonooka Elementary School, Satoyama, Japan, scooped the award. The plans for the school were adjusted four times to avoid tree felling and to achieve symbiosis with the landscape; local materials are used for the wooden structural parts, fixtures and furnishings.

For those interested in sustainability in residential developments, the shortlisted Energy Flex House (EFH) Høje-Taastrup, Denmark, by Henning Larsen Architects is worth noting. Constructed for the Danish Technological Institute, EFH is a flexible R&D demonstration facility which was presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. Its purpose is to develop and test energy efficient systems and components for the housing sector and it comprises two duplicate structures: EFH Lab and EFH Family.

‘Flex’ alludes to the continual addition, subtraction and replacement of building components and systems within EFH, thereby accelerating the growth of energy efficient technologies. EFH Lab is an uninhabited test facility which examines interchangeable materials and technical installations while EFH Family is a duplicate structure that functions as a living lab with families living there for periods of three to four months. It is the first energy-neutral house in Denmark and, in common with all the schemes represented at the Leaf Awards, is important for the leadership it shows within its respective field.

Image Credit: Henning Larsen Architects