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2023 World Architecture Festival: Building and Interior of the Year 

2023 World Architecture Festival: Building and Interior of the Year 
World Building of the Year-Huizhen High School by Approach Design Studio - Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd Photo credit: Approach Design Studio - Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd

Huizhen High School in China clinches the prestigious World Building of the Year title at the 2023 World Architecture Festival, celebrating innovative designs that redefine school spaces, while additional accolades recognize outstanding projects globally.

The 2023 World Architecture Festival (WAF) concluded with the declaration of Huizhen High School in China as the World Building of the Year. The prestigious event, held at Marina Bay Sands, witnessed the unveiling of exceptional projects, recognizing outstanding contributions to the world of architecture.

Huizhen High School, a creation by Approach Design Studio/Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group, claimed the coveted title of World Building of the Year. The project, initially shortlisted in the Completed Building School category, is located in Jiangbei District, Ningbo City, and represents an innovative exploration of ‘efficiency-first’ campus design. The boarding school campus, aptly described as a ‘floating forest,’ intertwines classrooms among scattered tree houses, providing students with unique spaces for relaxation and contemplation. The design, featuring a rooftop park with sporting facilities open to the public, breaks away from the conventional model of academic structures.

Di Ma, Director at Approach Design Studio/Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group, expressed their focus on creating a space that goes beyond architecture, emphasizing the infusion of nature into the building. The project encourages students to unwind and find respite between classes, contributing to a distinct school experience.

World Building of the Year-Huizhen High School by Approach Design Studio – Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd Photo credit: Approach Design Studio – Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd
Photo credit: Approach Design Studio – Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd
World Building of the Year-Huizhen High School by Approach Design Studio – Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd Photo credit: Approach Design Studio – Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group Co.,Ltd

Paul Finch, Programme Director of the World Architecture Festival, praised Huizhen High School for its unexpected and delightful design. He highlighted the architects’ success in creating a school that diverges from traditional models, promoting walking, fresh air, and moments of reflection amidst a ‘floating forest.’ Finch commended the project’s simplicity and innovative use of everyday materials, suggesting its replicability for schools globally.

The World Interior of the Year award was presented to 19 Waterloo Street by SJB in Australia. Originally shortlisted in the Residential (Single Dwelling) category, the interior of this multi-story house was described as a “pocket-sized tour de force” by the judges. Situated on a narrow strip adjacent to the road, the interior creatively maximizes space to create an open and tranquil oasis within the city.

World Interior of the Year-Waterloo Street by SJB Photo credit: Anson Smart
World Interior of the Year-Waterloo Street by SJB Photo credit: Anson Smart
World Interior of the Year-Waterloo Street by SJB Photo credit: Anson Smart

The Future Project of the Year, supported by ABB, went to The Probiotic Tower by Design and More International in Egypt. The project aims to repurpose obsolete water towers, addressing climate change by incorporating a large algae bioreactor tank to absorb CO2, alongside a bamboo plantation and Cross Laminated Timber Production facility.

Benjakitti Forest Park: Transforming a Brownfield into an Urban Ecological Sanctuary by TURENSCAPE, Arsomsilp Community and Environmental Architect in Thailand, claimed the Landscape of the Year award. The project, which transforms a former tobacco factory into a resilient living ecosystem, stood out for its innovative approach to urban ecological design.

The World Architecture Festival also recognized projects with special prizes, including the Visualisation Prize, Futureglass Prize, Best Use of Natural Light, International Building Beauty Prize, and The GROHE Water Prize, among others.

The Probiotic Tower by Design and More International © Karim Mousa – Founder and art director of Mozses
enjakitti-Forest-Park-by-TURENSCAPE-Arsomsilp-Community-and-Environmental-Architect-©-Turenscape-Arsomsilp-Community

In addition to celebrating completed projects, the WAF also acknowledged the innovative thinking of students. The Student Charrette, focused on the theme ‘Catalyst,’ was won by Team C from the University of North Philippines for their project, BALAY ARAPAAP: An Inclusive Informal Learning Center for the Remote Island of Puro Caoayan.

The Architecture Drawing Prize, sponsored by Iris Ceramica Group, highlighted the art and skill of architectural drawing. The winners in different categories were Grundtvig by Ben Johnson (Hand-drawn), The Archatographic Map of the Incomplete Landscape on Pedra Branca by Eugene Tan (Digital), and (Re)membering the See Monster by Eldry John Infante (Hybrid).

The overall winner of the WAFX Prize, recognizing projects addressing major global issues, was Rethinking Oil Rigs – Offshore Data Centres by Arup in the United Kingdom. The project reimagines oil rig structures as data centers, contributing to the circular economy.

Looking ahead, the World Architecture Festival and INSIDE World Festival of Interiors are set to return to Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, on November 6-8, 2024. The event will continue to be a global platform for architects, designers, and enthusiasts to celebrate, learn, and be inspired. For more details on the 2024 World Architecture Festival, visit www.worldarchitecturefestival.com.

EMAP organizes the World Architecture Festival and INSIDE World Festival of Interiors, publishers of The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal, with GROHE as the Founder Partner. Other partners include ABB, Miele, Iris Ceramica Group, and the Singapore Tourism Board.

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