Godrej Properties' Imagine Studio shortlisted for WAN Metal in Architecture Award 2016

Christina Ingram, World Architecture News, 12 September 2016

Moving into its third year, the WAN Metal in Architecture Award 2016 recognises the increasingly high standards that are being achieved within metal design and construction. This Award celebrates the use of this material across the whole spectrum, from aluminium, steel, lead, tin, zinc, copper and nickel.

A long list of 31 projects were evaluated by a panel of industry experts who used their experience within this sector. To reach their verdict, factors such as originality, innovation, form, function, sustainability and context were considered.

Representing this sector we were honoured to have on this year's panel: Justin Laskin, Associate Partner at Pollard Thomas Edwards, Martin Henn, Partner at HENN, George Keliris, Director of Structures at BuroHappold Engineering and Bart Reuser, Founding Partner at NEXT Architects.

The jury acknowledged the diversity of this year's entrants and selected a shortlist of six projects, which are as follows in no particular order:


The FORUM Associative is an events and sports facility located in Saint-Louis, France. Designed like a puzzle, each space fits into the continuity of the next one, allowing a fluid circulation and rapid flow between the functions, where no corridor or galleries are needed. The main challenge of this project was to ensure that those spaces had the possibility to communicate in a more or less direct way, according to the program of the moment.

The spaces all fit together uniquely due to all being covered with the same principles of forms, materials and openings. The roof volume is systematically made up of two slopes, inspired by the design of the roofs in the area, Martin applauded the simplicity of this stating: "The combination of metal and a pitched roof building is surprising and interesting. The cell-like aggregation and the reduced appearance create a highly abstract impression." The project is made up of several distinct volumes, linked up to one another in a way the smaller volumes are placed at the edge of the individual houses, and the more imposing ones placed at the centre.

To create a unified project, all the claddings (facades and roofs) are treated with the same finishing material; an expanded metal (©Métal Déployé) mounted on big frames, with a very specific colour inspired from natural copper. Bart complimented the project saying: "Basic use of metal as a single material for the whole building makes a strong and lasting character." Justin also approved of the scheme: "It is an interesting and playful use of metal. They've taken it right the way through and used it as decorative motif."

Butterfly Pavilion – Noor Island by 3deluxe

On Noor Island, a lagoon island in the middle of the capital of the Arab Emirate Sharjah, design studio 3deluxe is currently designing a 2.5 ha transmedia Landscape Park, interwoven with an ensemble of several themed pavilions and buildings.

The most striking building on Noor Island is Butterfly Pavilion, whose ornamental shading roof characterizes the island. It houses more than 500 butterflies in a unique biosphere and offers visitors numerous opportunities for both contemplation and recreation.

The entire roof structure was prefabricated and then assembled on site. The individual roof elements are fastened by means of intelligent node connectors that are able to combine in a single connector all the different connection angles of the inter-related roof elements. The highly complex freeform roof is composed of a load-bearing 3D frame with over 4,000 golden aluminium leaves of varying sizes. The roof as a whole remains strikingly delicate, with only a 200mm thick support structure required. The entire structure rests on only 9 points and three pillars that like a tree trunk taper upwards while branching outwards. Impressed by the craftsmanship and the impact of this project Bart expressed: "Strong, innovative, complex and tempting image, especially the shading quality of a space frame is extraordinary, nice use of structural, aesthetic and functional design."

The design of the Butterfly Pavilion, is realises its design principle of multi-layered atmospheres: in material and mood layers, natural and artificial levels which blend into a visually and emotionally condensed overall picture.

Colorado Outward Bound School Micro Cabins by University of Colorado Denver ColoradoBuildingWorkshop

Located on a steep hillside in a pine forest, the Micro-Cabins in Leadville, Colorado, were designed as micro dormitories for the Colorado Outward Bound School. The cabins rest on the landscape, elevated above the winter snow pack on steel columns. The client brief called for 21 cabins, seven senior staff insulated cabins for year-round use and 14 un-insulated cabins to meet the housing needs during peak season.

In 2015, a group of 28 students undertook the 14 un-insulated cabins. They were conceived as two simple elements: a "box" and a "frame." The frame, consisting of three structural steel bays, handles both the gravity and lateral loads of the building.

No two cabins are alike, and the students explored the versatility of metal as a material covering all areas. Justin conveyed their use of the material sharing: "It's really innovative in its use of metal and it's beautiful. It's a very clever way of using steel. They've used it for exposed structure, they've used it for counter tops, for different lighting, they use different cladding in each way, sort of taking the material and using it specifically in how it could best suit that particular use. It's not just exposing structure, but using it as a decorative material, a structural material, a pile, a beam. It is a really elegant simple thing and I like it."

Salling Tower by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter

The viewing tower and landmark on the harbour of Aarhus Ø, Denmark, Salling Tower is shaped as a dramatic urban sculpture with a significant architectural expression. The white body of steel is a luminous and distinctive focal point and meeting place. The route through the tower leads under an inclined surface and up to the first viewing plateau that hovers above the water. From here, the visitor is led upwards by a broad staircase, which serves a lookout to panoramic views of the harbour and bay. The upper plateau serves 360 degree views of both the city and harbour.

The tower was assembled as one piece and mounted on the waterfront by two cranes that navigated the heavy structure onto the small foundation where it was bolted in place. To allow the construction to balance on the small footprint while considering factors such as weight and movement from visitors coupled with wind loads proved a significant challenge only able to be addressed through close collaboration with the engineers from Søren Jensen A/S. Peek holes in the massive white painted steel plate construction promote the feeling of being at sea. The peek holes reduce wind loads and constitute 20 percent in material reduction. Justin noted: "The lighting is actually really dramatic, it's like some sort of piece of installation art and I do like the images of people fishing from it and people just sitting out in the sun." Bart also acknowledged: "Great Folly. It uses all qualities of metal to create an experience." Martin commented on why he thought this worked: "The prefabricated, single material structure appears very stringent and playful at the same time inviting people to enjoy the views over the harbour."

Castle Downs Park Pavilion by gh3

The Castle Downs Park Pavilion located in Edmonton Alberta, Canada unifies a wide range of outdoor recreational facilities within a suburban park, and helps instil them with a sense of place. As an organizing device along an east-west axis, the low-slung linear pavilion responds to the prairie landscape and gives definition to a vast, flat site. Faceting and inflection characterize the form of the punctuated bar - a mirrored pavilion that offers broken and distorted reflections of its immediate environment. As an object in the landscape, the pavilion has an important function in connecting the various sports fields directly to its north and south.

To amplify the energy of the park, mirrored stainless-steel panels skin the building. Impact friendly, the panels offer a combination of durability, renewability and playfulness. The accordion like exterior walls are held in tension by a horizontal roof plane. The shallow 150-millimetre depth of the facia is achieved through a combination of an inverted roofing system over the significant cantilever of the portals and a conventional roofing system for the remainder. In plan, they are arranged in a zigzag configuration creating fragmented and reflected views of the surrounding park, its users, along with the days and seasons. This left an impression with Bart commenting: "Diverse use of material, nice, exceptional character, blends with surroundings."

Imagine Studio at The Trees by Studio Lotus+GPL Design Studio

Located in Mumbai, India the Imagine Studio is a response to the heritage of one of India's biggest industrial houses ‘Godrej', a family owned business that started making locks in 1897.

Programmatically the buildings currently adapt into a marketing office, sample flats, meeting spaces, a small café, as well as several outdoor spaces to market upcoming residential and commercial properties. A tall chimney evocative of bygone industrial aesthetic, stands as a striking memorial. The old louvers of the primary plant, now Imagine Studio, were recovered and repurposed in Corten steel and perforated with patterns simulating the filtering of light from the leafy canopy of rain trees at the site. The timeless architectural form was derived from the current industrial shed and the materiality of Corten Steel, Brass, Concrete and Timber purposefully build upon the narrative of the project. George admired the use of this site stating: "A thoughtful series of interventions in this industrial heritage site. Various metal interventions repurpose existing buildings with the aim of catalysing future development of the area."

Sustainability was a key principle for this adaptive reuse project with the landscape design strategically repurposing the heritage environment in a more urban, community-centric setting. Amalgamating industrial scrap and integrating them with the plants, it uses them as a story telling device. Justin was charmed by the re-use of this project and the story it told throughout: "They use perforation of metal in so many different ways here, in the use of this sort of glowing thing that you see the trees through here, then as louvers that light filters through from another side, then you've got your metal here where they've cut pieces out of it to make it as a place that you can occupy, they use it as sort of an art installation, down to even the cuts out of as something that's then used within the ground as a bench, even down to the markings down in the ground, it's very thoughtfully detailed."

We would like to congratulate all of those who were shortlisted and to thank all who entered, along with our judges for 2016. The overall winner will be announced on September 20.