“Architecture is my first love, if you want to talk about what moves me — It’s the ordering of space, the visual pleasure, architecture’s power to construct our days and nights …”
Why do we love well-designed architecture? The above words belong to American artist Barbara Kruger, who put forward three reasons that will likely resonate with anyone with a connection to the built environment. In the present day, these ideals hold true — but what is expected of the contemporary architect has expanded considerably. AEC professionals are tasked with designing buildings that not only comfort, please and inspire their inhabitants but also meet the extraordinary challenges of today’s society. With the critical need for the AEC industry to work towards a more sustainable, resilient and ethically designed built environment, the job of being an architect has never been more complex, and success is far from guaranteed.
The core mission of Architizer’s A+Awards program — now welcoming submissions for its 12th annual edition — is to celebrate the architects that strive every day to meet these challenges and to throw a global spotlight on those that are leading the way, setting the benchmark for the next generation. As we invite entries for this year’s program, we want to take a moment to express our appreciation for all A+Award-winning architects, whose innovative creative processes, forward-thinking attitudes and groundbreaking work we are continually thankful for!
First and foremost, we are thankful for architects that are pushing for a more sustainable future. One of the standout advocates for this cause is the A+Award-winning Canadian architect Michael Green, Founder of North American Firm of the Year Michael Green Architecture. Green did not mince his words when speaking on the subject of sustainability in relation to the built environment during Architizer’s Future Fest. “There basically are no sustainable buildings,” said Green. “I think it’s time to recognize that we are on a path toward sustainability, but we are not sustainable yet.”
Green’s honesty showed great courage, and this kind of candid language is something the industry should embrace as a whole. The recent introduction of the sustainability categories in the A+Awards is part of a broader effort to highlight projects that are moving architecture as a whole in the right direction, incrementally raising the bar for sustainable systems, healthy or climate positive materials, and ethical building practices. You can read more about the new Sustainability categories here.
We’re also thankful for the small but mighty architecture firms that make up the majority of the profession. These firms belie the perception that architects are too preoccupied with design to be sound businesspeople. One compelling example is Christiana Karagiorgi Architects, creator of Surfer House. “It is extremely important for a small firm to receive such an award,” said Karagirogi of her firm’s success. “I am grateful that this project has been appreciated globally. The A+Award evoked a very warm response, not only from the local industry and colleagues here in Cyprus, but also from colleagues in other countries, which is very encouraging. It is always creative to exchange views and comments about architectural production. It makes you feel that you are part of the progress, in your own, locally solicited way.”
Karagirogi is living proof that small firms can be more than the sum of their parts, and no less ambitious in their creative vision than globally renowned firms like MAD, Foster + Partners and Perkins&Will, each of which won A+Awards in their own right last season. The voices of small and emerging firms must be listened to when thinking about the evolution of architectural practice, including the direction we take in terms of sustainable design — after all, 60% of AIA-registered firms possess 5 employees or fewer.
Many of these will be sustainable champions for generations to come, and many are already leading the charge, if the work of these outstanding small firms is anything to go by. We’ve taken the small firms spotlight a step further this season with the introduction of the A+Award for Best Sole Practitioner, dedicated to single-person architecture and/or design firms demonstrating excellence in their field. Learn more here.
Speaking of renowned firms — throughout recent A+Awards programs, Zaha Hadid Architects have repeatedly demonstrated why we should be thankful for architecture firms that think outside the box, challenging the ‘norm’ to find new solutions to global challenges. Case in point: The A+Award-winning Striatus 3D Printed Bridge was a product of ZHACODE, the firm’s in-house computation and design group. Shajay Booshan, Associate Director at ZHA, showcased this pilot project during Architizer’s Future Fest, highlighting the firm’s efforts to align maturing technologies with engaging and responsible design. Prototypes like these illustrate how efficient geometries could form a valuable piece in the puzzle of increasing sustainability within construction.
The epic challenge of turning concepts like these into constructed realities is why many love the practice of architecture in and of itself. Humanitarian architecture pioneer Cameron Sinclair wrote about what first made him fall in love with the profession: “I became enamored with the process and the huge hurdles it took to turn a dream to reality.” These huge hurdles were navigated by the dozens of architects who have designed and delivered A+Award-winning projects of the past 10 years. This year, thousands more will follow in their footsteps.
The best new buildings might be crafted from bamboo, hempcrete or even mushrooms, but when all is said and done, they possess a power that is even more compelling than the materials that make them: They form case studies for other architects to follow in the decades to come, and are capable of inspiring society as a whole, allowing them to imagine a better, more sustainable future for architecture and beyond.
This is why we’re thankful for architects — and why this year’s A+Awards looks set to inspire the global design community more than ever before.
The latest edition of “Architizer: The World’s Best Architecture” — a stunning, hardbound book celebrating the most inspiring contemporary architecture from around the globe — is now available. Order your copy today.
Top image: THE VIBES CO-SPACE by INFINITIVE ARCHITECTURE, 10th Annual A+Awards Jury Winner in the Commercial – Coworking Space category.