18 oct 10 | World Architecture News

WAN Awards 2010: Urban Legends

Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design & City of Sydney and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture named winners of WAN Awards 2010 Urban Design sector.

Urban Design is always an enlightening sector of the WAN AWARDS, as the ideas presented form the basis of our expanding cities. The designs - both built and unbuilt - offer up catalysts for the urban regeneration that is shaping our cultural centres the world over, from transport links in Niagara Falls to permanent event venues in Montreal, open parkland in Georgia to wildly undulating pedestrian bridges in Slovenia.

This year, the sheer diversity of the entries astounded our jury panel, leading 'built' juror Peter Sheard to conclude that the "innovative, vibrant and intelligent designs…offer the real possibility of significantly improving people's quality of life." This point was picked up by many of the esteemed jurors, all of whom agreed that the shortlisted entries displayed "a thorough understanding of their context, a special deftness and intelligence in the way their components were put together."

The field of Urban Design casts a wide net in terms of style, form and function, but what really became a talking point for our jurors this year was the approach many practices took towards a challenging urban context. As investors begin to tighten their belts and governments continue to crack down on what can and cannot be constructed in the public realm, architects are forced to find new ways to express their creative intent.

Many of the shortlisted entries fought to strike a balance between the social and economic issues of the times, however as 'built' juror Charlie Hughes explains: "The winning submission achieved this delicate and difficult balance with a deceptive air of simplicity - always the sign of a truly skilled and confident hand." This sentiment was echoed by our 'unbuilt' jury panel, with Andy Cameron of WSP concluding: "It was the ambition of the decarbonisation plan for the central area of Chicago that stood out as a plan where much could be achieved and a process could be established which would act as a catalyst for other cities to follow." So WAN's winners continue to pave the way for the future of urban regeneration…

Despite the 'eclectic range of projects' presented in the WAN AWARDS Urban Design shortlist, the jury panel managed to narrow it down to two winners - Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Sydney by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design & City of Sydney and Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The 'built' jurors were also very taken with Target Field & Plaza in Minneapolis by Populous, deeming it of higher calibre than shortlisted status and awarding it the status of Highly Commended.