Brick is a timeless material, and the biennial Wienerberger Brick Awards – held in the manufacturer’s home city of Vienna last May – showcased its vitality in the world of contemporary architecture. The international jury consisted of 2012 Pritzker Prize winner Wang Shu (China), Pavol Paňák (Slovakia), Ewa Kuryłowicz (Poland) and Vera Yanovshtchinsky (The Netherlands).
Together, these acclaimed architects selected a handful of projects from 50 nominees from around the world. So, without further ado, we present to you the recipients of the 2014 edition of the prestigious prize:
Winner of the Grand Prize and Special Solution with Brick Category
Kantana Film and Animation Institute by Boonserm Premthada of Bangkok Project Studio | Thailand
A total of 600,000 handmade fired bricks were used in the construction of this building, but it was the quality, rather than quantity, that impressed the jury. The gently undulating façade sets the building into motion and reminds the spectator of the intimate relationship between light, architecture and film.
‘It’s a good example of combining function with a feeling of beauty. In this project, brick is not just about decoration, but about the whole structure,’ says jury member Wang Shu. ‘It’s very important in my opinion. The result is simple but beautiful.’
Winner of the Public Re-use Category
Buda Art Centre by 51N4E | Belgium
A collection of typical factory buildings constructed from brown-red brick during the interwar period was converted into a cultural centre consisting of workshops and exhibition spaces. By adding new connecting pavilions, the architects have realised poetic connection between the old and new, and breathed new life into a formerly unassuming ensemble.
‘The masonry and its application suit the building,’ explains Vera Yanovshtchinsky in her statement. ‘Brick is the perfect material and the result is unique. I find it a beautiful way of creating harmony and tension at the same time… the architects achieved the maximum result with their highly sophisticated mix of material and design.’
Winner of the Public Use Category
Ravensburg Art Museum by Lederer + Ragnarsdóttir + Oei | Germany
Fitting in with the neighbours has never been been a strong suit of modern architecture, but the German outfit Lederer + Ragnarsdóttir + Oei deftly combines appropriate modern forms with an age-old material in this extension to an art museum in Ravensburg.
‘The outstanding quality of this project lies in a certain timelessness of its appearance. The brick comes from the demolition of a former monastery; it’s reused,’ comments juror Pavol Paňák. ‘The project’s architectural quality is rooted in the double meaning of its appearance; it’s old and new at the same time.’
Winner of the Single Family House category
House for All Seasons by John Lin of Rufwork | China
John Lin is an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong and co-founder of architectural design and research office Rufwork (Rural-Urban Framework). He began a typological study of traditional Chinese courtyard houses in 2006, with the aim of developing sustainable prototypes. His recently completed House for All Seasons combines a concrete skeleton with brick infill, which forms a continuous screen around the house, protecting privacy while allowing light and air to pass through wherever needed.
Ewa Kuryłowicz said, ‘Bricks – readily available in this area of China – are used in an innovative way and in two layers. The first provides insulation. These mud bricks are made in situ using a special machine. The second layer wraps the outer walls of the house. This is a unique use of bricks, which makes additional insulation materials unnecessary. It’s not only a wise project, but also a graceful and beautiful one.’
Winner of the Urban Infill Category
Cooking School by Sol 89 | Spain
This early 19th-century slaughterhouse has stood empty since the 1970s, and has even been used as a municipal dump. Now, its walls have again been whitewashed and, and stark brick forms, made of glazed facing bricks have replaced the former roof. The structure now accommodates a cooking school for local disenfranchised youth.
‘The way that ceramics are used on the roof of the school enriches the silhouette of the town in a traditional, but unsentimental way,’ Paňák explains. ‘Unusually, it uses just one type of brick and one type of tile for all the vertical and sloping areas, as well as for horizontal surfaces. This gives the building a sense of mono-materiality. It looks very strong in its appearance, almost like a statue.’
In addition to these projects, Wienerberger’s board of directors gave two special prizes to projects which use their company’s products in an innovative and architectural way. One of these is Lumenart office building by Andrija Rusan in Croatia, where brick is used as a loadbearing material to create a crisp, crystalline outer form of the building.
The other is Paasitorni Hotel by K2S Architects in Helsinki, in which pale brick is woven into a delicate, curving screen, protecting the interior from glare.