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With complex masterplans and large-scale housing projects, Alison Brooks Architects have established a reputation as perceptive specialists for architectonic and urban planning contexts. A site-specific and experimental approach is characteristic for the designs of the London-based architects. Prior to founding ABA in England in 1996, Canadian-born Alison Brooks was a partner at Ron Arad Associates. Today, she teaches Urban Design and Housing at the Architectural Association, and her projects have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards, including the Stephen Lawrence Prize (2006), the Manser Medal for UK Projects (2007), and the Stirling Prize (2008).
Among the most renowned projects of Alison Brooks Architects are the Folkestone Arts and Business Centre “Quarterhouse” (2009), which with its backlit facade of fluted mesh cladding has become a new landmark for this English coastal city, and the Accordia Living complex in Cambridge, where the architects conceived apartment buildings that provide clever solutions to the question of the quality of life and living in the future.
Bjarke Ingels is considered a shooting star of the international architecture scene. Together with the architects of the Bjarke Ingels Group in Copenhagen, the 35-year-old Dane is currently developing projects in Kazakhstan, Mexico and numerous other countries. His unconventional designs stand out with their fresh approach to complex urban constellations, which are often resolved through simple means and propose new typologies.
Ingels was an associate at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and co-founder of Plot Architects before founding his own practice with BIG in 2005. Among other awards, he received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2004 and the World Architecture Festival Award in the housing category in 2008. He currently teaches at Columbia University in New York.
With the apartment complexes “Mountain” Dwellings and “VM-House” in the Ørestad district of Copenhagen, BIG has transformed its vision of urban density in the rural periphery into reality. Currently, the architects are building the Danish Pavilion at this year’s Expo in Shanghai. The building does justice to the theme “Better city – better life” in the form of a gigantic bicycle loop. At the heart of the structure, Copenhagen’s landmark the Little Mermaid thrones over a bath filled with water from the harbor of the Danish capital.
Enric Ruiz-Geli and his interdisciplinary architectural team Cloud 9 in Barcelona work at the interface between architecture and art, digital processes and technological material development. The architects’ multifaceted projects include stage sets and buildings, installations and industrial products, and are realized together with various collaborative partners. Cloud 9 is committed to the use of new technological developments and the performative character of architecture, which creates intelligent structures in emulation of nature.
Enric Ruiz-Geli founded Cloud 9 in 1997. The Spanish architect and artist has been awarded the Research and Development Award of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (2008) and the Catalonian Premis MediAmbient for sustainable architecture (2009), among others.
The most important projects of Cloud 9 include the “Villa Nurbs” in Empuriabrava, an organically formed, ecological and futuristic house. For the recently completed Media-TIC Building in Barcelona, the architects also made use of a high-tech membrane equipped with a digital, controllable mechanism that facilitates the absorption of sunlight.
The New York practice of Elisabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro is considered an intellectual think tank for visions that test the limits of possibility. Elisabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio met at the Cooper Union School of Architecture before they founded their studio in 1979. Along with Charles Renfro, who joined them as a partner in 2004, they taught for several years at various universities. Among the many awards the architects have received are the Cooper Union Urban Visionary Award (2006) and the Medal of Honor of the American Institute of Architects (2010).
Their best known works include the recently opened High Line park in New York’s Meatpacking District, as well as the re-design of the Alice Tully Hall and the expansion of the Juilliard School, both part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. The architects also garnered attention with the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the “Blur Building” for the Swiss Expo 2002. Currently, Diller Scofidio + Renfro are working on the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro and on the expansion of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, among other projects.
In visionary designs, the interdisciplinary Berlin architectural practice J. Mayer H. Architects sounds out the interface between architecture, urban planning, art installations and the development of new materials. Their projects stand out through a cultural significance that unites construction and sustainability, urbanity and architectural form. Jürgen Mayer H. studied in Stuttgart, New York and Princeton before founding his practice in 1996. He received the Mies van der Rohe Award Emerging Architects Special Mention (2003) and, among others, the International Architecture Award of the Chicago Athenaeum (2009). Mayer H. has taught at the Architectural Association in London, at Harvard University and at the University of Toronto in Canada.
Among the best-known buildings by J. Mayer H. Architects are the Mensa Moltke at the University of Karlsruhe and the “Dupli.Casa” near Ludwigsburg – two projects whose unusual forms offer insight into the design process. The Metropol-Parasol plan for the comprehensive redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnación in Sevilla is currently under construction. The architectural model for the project is part of the permanent collection of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt/Main.
The young practice Standardarchitecture has, in a brief period of time, established a reputation as Chinese avant-garde. The experimental and at times provocative designs of the Beijing architects often employ simple materials such as bamboo and brick. These materials extend into the cityscape like urban landscapes or mediate between nature and architecture, thereby always taking cultural and historical aspects into consideration. Before Zhang Ke set up his practice in Beijing in 2001, he studied at the Tsinghua University and at Harvard Graduate School. Today, Standardarchitecture has four partners altogether. In 2006, the architects were recognized with the first prize of the China Architecture Award.
The Yaluntzangpu Boat Terminal near Linzhi, Tibet is among Standardarchitecture’s most important projects. The proportions of the structure and the diligence with which regional materials were used set an international standard. The breadth of the architects’ portfolio is exemplified by current endeavors, for example the two 160m-high “Dancing Books Towers” in Wuchang, a large-scale project that calls for skilled coordination in addition to all other necessary qualities. The architects have demonstrated their visionary foresight, for example at the 2009 Hong Kong Biennale. Their proposal to build a gigantic tower by layering rice fields like the terraces of a skyscraper remains pie in the sky for the time being, however.
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