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Copper Awards Showcase the Best of European Design

Chris Hodson

Winners of the 2007 Copper in Architecture Awards have been announced at a presentation ceremony in London on 25 September. The Awards revealed an exceptional diversity of important buildings from around Europe – many not widely known or published – amongst the 74 entries.

This major Awards programme considers architectural projects around Europe using copper in all its forms.

The team of experienced architect judges - joined for the first time this year by leading British architect Ken Shuttleworth and the winner of the last European Award Kari Jarvinen from Finland – focused on architectural design. This year, their task was made particularly difficult by the exceptional quality of entries but, after much deliberation, awards were made from the six projects shortlisted for the European category.

The European Winner was the Jewish Centre in Munich designed by Wandel Hoefer Lorch Architekten. Here, the rusticated stone base of the synagogue is cloaked in a veil of woven bronze mesh. Copper linked to transparency and light is a defining theme of the Centre and the building’s beauty is apparent both during the day and at night. The choice of materials has symbolic relevance informed by Jewish culture but is also particularly effective architecturally. This deceptively simple elegance won the judges over.

Three other contrasting projects were also Highly Commended for their exceptional design quality. From Spain, the Theatre in Vicar, by Carbajal + Solinas Verd Arquitectos takes a radical approach to cladding flat surfaces, using a combination of brass, bronze and plain copper strips, also winning an Innovation Award. But the design is more than innovative and, in the strong Spanish sunlight, the effect is simply stunning.

In the north of Norway, very different climatic conditions influenced the design of Jarmund/Vigsnæs AS Architects’ Svalbard Science Centre with its long, low, faceted copper profile. With a complex, technical programme and such a challenging environment to accommodate, architectural design could easily have taken second place here. But this is a beautiful building, particularly suited to its mountainous, arctic snowscape.

Also Highly Commended, the Kumu Art Musem in Tallinn, Estonia was designed by Vapaavuori Architects. Contrasting with most other entries, copper is used here in a straightforward way but still recognised by the judges as an essential component in a beautiful composition. This is an elegant solution to a complex programme reflecting cultural and national influences.

The judges also wanted to acknowledge the excellent standard of entries generally - and two other shortlisted projects in particular. An example of high quality architectural design in an unexpected situation is the Skive CHP Station in Denmark, showcasing the new biomass technology with sustainable copper cladding. This project, designed by C. F. Møller Architects, is an exemplary utility building designed with a real architectural response. In complete contrast, Lands Architetture’s Une Boîte Moirée project is a modest scale copper box in the Swiss countryside, using rich combinations of copper cladding and perforated screens.

Separately from the European category, the Copper in Architecture Awards continue with recognition of the best UK projects.

Winner of the UK category was Keith Williams Architects’ Unicorn Theatre in London. The cool, calm approach taken with this landmark building and a careful use of materials singled it out for the Award.

Two other projects were commended – Allies and Morrison’s landmark Planetarium in Greenwich and Feilden Clegg Bradley’s elegant Formby Swimming Pool.

Many of the other buildings submitted will also be of interest and all the Award entries from around Europe are featured at www.copperconcept.org.

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Jewish Centre, Munich

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