LEAF Awards 2013 Overall Winner: Marsan Mediatheque in France
Text: Florian Maier
17 winning projects and five special commendations were announced at the LEAF Awards ceremony on 20 September 2013 in London. For the first time, there also was a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Overall Winner & Public Building of the Year – Culture
archi5, Marsan Mediatheque, Mont de Marsan, France
The media library is a strong cultural symbol for the Marsan urban area. It is a place of discovery, gatherings and exchanges for its users. It is a visible, distinctive building without being overpowering. The building stands in the middle of the Bosquet barracks, and care has been taken to augment the dialogue with the place’s strong architectural whole. With its clean envelope of pure geometric lines, a 197×197ft square, the building complies with the classical layout yet contrasts with its austerity by offsetting the system with a corner opening onto the city. Its façades reflect the surrounding barracks like a respectful, deferential mirror.
The building has been designed as a covered cultural square by making the façades transparent and the floor uniform, and also through its position in the middle of the barracks. This design is read by extending the planted roof to make it appear to be hovering above the ground. The grassy incline that surrounds the building draws the eye upwards, then gives way to alternating transparent and reflecting glass façades.
The media library’s central location in the military drill yard inspired a building with four main sides, varying from one another by simply adapting to the direction they face. It confirms its identity from whatever angle it is viewed. At night it becomes a lantern that brings the square to life, turning it into an inviting, open and transparent space.
The interior space on the ground floor is completely open and centres around a patio, the design of which has been inspired by Matisse’s paintings of acanthus leaves, and the volumes of which recall Alvar Aalto’s vases. The various functions are organised naturally on the open floor space, which maintains visual continuity and diffuses daylight evenly. It is the first patio used by a media library as an open reading room.
Thedesign provides a relaxed, contemplative atmosphere for its users. User intimacy is created by the strong architectural elements that inspire visual interplay. It may well be this ‘surprise’, almost hidden, patio that makes the building so popular with the public.
LEAF Awards jury statement
The Mont-de-Marzan media library designed by archi5 is a beautiful achievement, technically very strong and a highly credible, uplifting cultural symbol for the city, clearly supported by the painstaking and sensitive peripheral vision on the part of the architects. Designed as a covered square at the centre of an austere quadrangle of former barracks (today the Public Record Office), by making its facades transparent, this generously designed building meets the full the technical challenges the architects defined, for example, small sections in such a big span. Instead of the easy option of an overbearing design language, the building engages with its wider environment and with its users of all ages by hybrid means. There is a clean envelope of geometric lines, while the classical architectural layout is in the interior offset as a system by non-orthogonal lines more akin to nature, and the structural opening of one corner to Marzan’s urban context.
The contoured lightwell is highly versatile for readers, who can easily navigate the buildings’ clear interior spaces, and the relationship between the architecture and the furniture design and fittings is excellently judged, with the services given high priority, as we would expect. The architectural design is also very strong when read from above, not always a consideration in architecture, and also around its facades due to the extension of a planted roof that makes the building appear to hover above the ground. We regard the library as one of the very finest public buildings across the globe we have seen in recent years, one we expect will be long-lasting, a much loved asset and source of optimism for the city.
Client: Communauté d’agglomération du Marsan
Size of project: 4,750m²
Cost: Euro 12.3 million
Start date: June 2007
Completion date: November 2012
The other 2013 LEAF Awards winners by category
(DETAIL report about every project, follow the link)
Mixed-Use Building of the Year
Steven Holl Architects, Sliced Porossity Block - CapitaLand Raffles City, Chengdu, China
Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy)
studiomk27, MM House, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy)
Yasuhiro Yamashita and Atelier Tekuto, Boundary House, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Residential Building of the Year (Multiple Occupancy)
Shinichiro Iwata, M-apartment, Chiba, Japan
Commercial Building of the Year
WSP Architects, Hangzhou Alipay Building, Hangzhou, China
International Interior Design Award
Studio Seilern Architects, Lauenen Residence, Lauenen, Switzerland
Refurbishment of the Year
Ector Hoogstad Architecten, MetaForum at Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Public Building of the Year – Culture
Henning Larsen Architects and Batteriid Architects, Harpa - Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland
Public Building of the Year - Transport & Infrastructure
Oscar Tusquets Blanca and M.N.Metropolitana di Napoli Spa, Toledo Metro Station, Napoli, Italy
Public Building of the Year – Education & Research
Henning Larsen Architects, Campus Roskilde, Roskilde, Denmark
Public Building of the Year – Sport
archi5, Léo Lagrange Stadium, Toulon, France
Best Sustainable Development (Environmental)
SKEW Collaborative, Chinese Academy of Sciences IOT Center, Jiading District, Shanghai
Best Sustainable Development (Social)
Kaunitz Yeung Architecture, Takara School, Takara, Efate Island, Vanutau
Best Sustainable Development (Social)
Yasuhiro Yamashita and Atelier Tekuto, Emergency Supply Warehouse, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
Best Future Building - Residential (Drawing Board)
Yasuhiro Yamashita + Kenji Mizukami + Ben Matsuno / TeMaLi Architect, Post-Disaster Public Housing in the city of Kamaishi, Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture
Urban Design Award
MZ Architects, Valley City – Qatar
Lifetime Achievement Award
This is a new award that recognizes a person for service to the architectural community and their body of work.
Sir Peter Hall
Sellar Property Group, Architect: Renzo Piano, The Shard, London, UK
The Shard, by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, completed after London’s triumph as host of the Olympics, and inaugurated with an evening light show of lasers and searchlights, is a welcome and inspiring addition to London’s fast changing skyline. It shifts the city’s focus to include south of the Thames, and well deserves its status of cultural landmark. In this age of ever higher, and all too often somewhat bland, skyscrapers in cities around the world, the 306m Shard, currently the tallest building in Western Europe, has set a new benchmark in standards of tall buildings, and introduced a globally recognizable language of architecture in a context of contemporary and historic urban fabric from a myriad of eras. It sits well in its urban context and sets up a fine visual relationship with all other spired and tipped structures across London.
On the prominent site of London Bridge, a major transport hub that is part of its transformative design, the building avoids the syndrome of the gratuitous ‘funny shape’ with its slender, elegantly defined verticality and glass-clad spire. This is a structure of steel and glass around a reinforced concrete core that is confidently and maturely designed rather than futuristic, a design that in drawing section, and in reality, spells ingenuity and flair in the creation of space, for example, the mid-level piazza. Piano deliberately inclined the facades so that they reflect the ever changing complexion of the London skies, and has most successfully created the atmospheric building he intended. At times the delicacy of the glass cladding appears pleasingly like that of light veils, while inside high ceilings and full glazing afford a luxurious array of vistas. The design houses 72 habitable floors, apartments, offices, a hotel, restaurants and a viewing platform at the top affording grand and magically new perspectives of the city of which it is part.
The judges wish to applaud and celebrate the endeavours of all concerned in the conception, design, financing, development, realization and management of the Shard, a consummate, enthralling and highly popular work of contemporary architecture created in the first part of the 21st century.
Special commendations were awarded to:
- Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy): Adam Knibb Architects, Bluebell Pool House, Crawley, Winchester UK
- Best Sustainable Development (Environmental): Make Architects, The Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire UK
- Best Sustainable Development (Environmental): Wilkinson Eyre Architects, The Crystal, London, UK
- Best Sustainable Development (Social): Virai Arquitectos, Institutional Winery “La Grajera”, Logrono in La Rioja, Spain
- Best Future Building – Culture/Education (Drawing Board): scape, MEIS - Museo dell'Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah, Ferrara, Italy
More jury statements on www.arena-international.com
DETAIL report about the 2012 LEAF Awards Winners