10 Emerging Architecture Firms to Watch in 2021

These A+Award-winning firms, each established within the last decade, are already making their mark on the architectural profession.

Hannah Feniak Hannah Feniak

Architizer’s prestigious A+Awards, as well as being the world’s largest architectural awards program, is also a leading international competition for talented young firms. The democratic selection process ensures that best new projects are rewarded, regardless of age, location or firm status, allowing young architects and designers to gain recognition in their field. Enter before January 29th to secure your firm’s participation:

Enter the 9th Annual A+Awards

By expanding material possibilities, promoting sustainability and celebrating local contexts, the following 10 firms — all established within the past decade — are already making their mark on the profession. Often working on various scales and across multiple disciplines, these young, dynamic teams are innovating formally and spatially by exploring new ways to impact the built and social environments.  

Each of these innovative studios have shot to prominence by winning an A+Award, foreshadowing a future where they will continue to push the boundaries of both their own practices and the wider architectural profession. Keep a close watch on these emerging firms and their expanding portfolios in 2021 and beyond — we’re certainly eager to track their promising trajectories in the coming years.


Boston, MA | Beijing & Chengdu, China | Established 2015

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

Garden Hotpot Restaurant by MUDA-Architects, Chengdu, China 2020 A+Awards Jury Winner Hospitality – Restaurants

Though initially founded in Boston, MA, MUDA-Architects’ subsequent expansion in China heralded the internationalist core at the heart of their firm’s philosophy. Contrary to the placelessness that is often associated with global outlooks, this creative team of designers seeks to activate local cultures while respecting local ecologies. As a result, the firm’s projects tend to cultivate roots in the past in order to reach towards the future. Working across a variety of sectors — from stadium design to bookstores — the result is always elegant and aimed at global diversification. 

Atelier tao+c

Shanghai, China | Established 2016

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

Capsule hotel in a rural library by Atelier tao+c, Tonglu, Zhejiang Province, China 2020 A+Awards Jury and Popular Winner Concepts – Plus-Architecture +Adaptive Reuse; Jury Winner Institutional – Libraries

This young firm places research and teaching at the fore of their practice, and their investigations into reviving domestic landscapes and heritage structures extends into their design work. With a portfolio of projects that range greatly in terms of scale and program, their approach is semi-architectural semi-interior. Typology is the starting point of their process, with aim of elevating and rediscovering the quotidian, forgotten and the mundane as the end goal. This objective is often achieved by harnessing space poetically in order to literally and figuratively recast everyday life in a new, beautiful light. 


Chiang Mai, Thailand | Established 2017

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

Boonma by SHER MAKER Chiang Mai, Thailand 2020 A+Awards Popular Winner Concepts – Plus-Architecture +Landscape

Attentive to craft method, local material and working process, this young firm ingeniously develops projects under the subculture of the local area and people. Focusing on the conjunction of architectural program, construction methods, and materials, their studio produces highly site-specific projects that center on local participation and expertise. In so doing, SHER MAKER promotes an understanding of ‘local’ that is not caught in the usual traditional-versus-modern paradigm.The building team is lead by Patcharada Inplang and Thongchai Chansamak; whose backgrounds are telling — the former cofounded a hand-binding paperwork studio and the latter was a principle bamboo bicycle maker.

B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio

Beijing, China | Established 2014

% Arabica West Jianguo Road by B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio, Shanghai, China 2020 A+Awards Popular Winner Hospitality – Restaurants

Though not immediately apparent in their acronym, B.L.U.E. stands for the Beijing Laboratory for the Urban Environment — a name that succinctly describes the primary concern driving this Japanese studio’s practice. Urban-oriented design is the thread that unites their portfolio of mainly commercial commissions, and this young firm employs a variety of strategies in order to break down widely held assumptions that see the indoors as private space and the outdoors as public space. Urban life is at its most vibrant when there is a synergy between the physical and socio-cultural environment, and by redefining boundaries between street and store, this studio strives to maximize chance encounter and spontaneous gathering.


Jakarta, Indonesia | Established 2013

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

The Twins House by DELUTION , Jakarta, Indonesia 2020 A+Awards Popular Winner in Concepts Plus-Architecture +Living Small

By creating singular buildings — especially in the realm of private houses and offices — DELUTION sees architectural design to advance Indonesian culture. The ever-expanding practice now works on up to 75 projects a year, yet it continues to maintain an admirable focus on each client as a unique individual. Moving beyond aesthetic considerations, the dynamic young firm considers each commission as a problem or a question, for which each architectural project is produced as a solution. The result is not only inexpensive but highly-custom interior spaces, but also iconic outward-facing architectural expressions.


Czech Republic | Established 2015

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

Art Villas Costa Rica | Atelier Villa by Formafatala, Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica 2020 A+Awards Popular Winner Residential – Private House ( L 3000 – 5000 sq ft)

Formafatal is team of eight friends – architects, designers and scenographers – focuses on interior and product design, in addition to exhibition installations. Their portfolio boasts a bevy of public-facing projects: from pop-up store to restaurants to holiday villas. Though each space is unique, the output of this emerging studio is united by an overarching sense of warmth, often attributed to sculptural but mellow lighting, and richly textured walls adorned in diverse and unexpected materials. Their close-knit dynamic carries into their relationships with clients, which they see as a collaboration. This inter-personal connection results in spaces where people feel at home.


Netherlands | Iran | Established 2014

SOFTSTONE by SETUParchitecture Tehran, Iran 2020 A+Awards Popular Winner Details – Plus-Architecture +Stone

The name SETUParchitecture was chosen to refer to this young firm’s belief that architecture is a complex system that often requires skilful navigation. For this reason, they not only offer innovative design solutions, but also consultancy for constructional approaches. By adapting digital techniques and production technologies according to geocultural specificities, their aim to minimize waste and transform typology is often expressed materially. This approach to architecture as a process is aimed at rewiring local and global inputs in our contemporary “architectural setup.”

noa* network of architecture

Italy | Germany  | Founded 2010

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

Biwak by noa* network of architecture, Schnalstal Glacier, Italy 2020 A+Awards Jury Winner Hospitality – Unbuilt Hospitality

The concept of “emergence” is central to this young studio’s output. Championing interdisciplinary, not only do they allow the methods for each design evolve in tandem with the project, but they also develop buildings that unfurl from their surroundings. Their specialty is hospitality architecture — in particular, a combination of the fields of tourism and modern living — and their aim is to facilitate deeper connections between guests and their destinations. Materiality thus becomes a primary language and noa* network of architecture is well-versed in a rich vocabulary of various woods and rock types, which are not only less carbon intensive than most materials, but also result in projects that appear to emerge from their landscapes.


Kuwait City | Porto | Established 2012

Khat by STUDIO TOGGLE AlUla, Saudi Arabia 2020 A+Awards Popular Winner Hospitality – Unbuilt Hospitality

With a diverse portfolio spanning from public, commercial and interior design, to residential and hospitality architecture, this boutique firm focuses on expressing local culture. The fifteen-person team balances scientific research and computational methods with hand-made sketches and models — an approach to form-finding that marries aesthetic innovation with environmental challenges. Celebrating the complexity of simplicity, Studio Toggle is making strides towards a powerful architectural equilibrium between context, technology and sustainability.

WZWX Architecture Group

Taipei | Shanghai |Huai’an | Established 2014  

Emerging Firms Young Architecture Studios To Watch

Laboratory for Shihlien Biotech Salt Plant by WZWX Architecture Group, Huai’an, China 2020 A+Awards Jury Winner Commercial – Factories & Warehouses

Founded by brothers Dr. Stephan and Dr. Richard Wang, this industrially-oriented practice specializes in developing integrated design solutions across the full range of scales. From site-planning to comprehensive architectural projects, and even interior and furniture design, their portfolio exhibits the depth of their knowledge in the realm of commercial spaces and offices. Beyond the design, their expertise in construction and project management allows WZWX Architecture Group to oversee projects from start to finish. This emphasis on communication and quality-control amounts to an elevated fusion of design ideas and quality construction.

Can you envision your firm on next season’s list? Start preparing your entry for the 2021 A+Awards today, and take your place among the world’s best:

Begin A+Awards Submission

Hannah Feniak Author: Hannah Feniak
Hannah Feniak is Architizer’s Managing Editor. When she’s not leading our talented team of writers and interviewing the industry’s most innovative designers, Hannah is likely to be found exploring the latest exhibition openings. A trained art historian and educator with a focus on architecture and urbanism, Hannah holds degrees from McGill University in Montreal and NYU.
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