After the coronavirus crisis, the world will need places where people can come together more than ever. In this respect, the four buildings that were awarded the Detail Prize on 28 January are perfect for our times. The Oodi City Library in Helsinki, the People’s Pavilion at Dutch Design Week 2017 in Eindhoven, the Fibre Pavilion at the Federal Garden Show 2019 in Heilbronn, and the Thapar University Learning Centre in Patiala, India, represent very different places of gathering. The services they provide to society as well as the experimental risks the architects took in their designs were highlighted by jury chair Louisa Hutton in her award ceremony speech. A total of 257 buildings from 28 countries were submitted for this 9th edition of the award. The jury shortlisted 13 projects and then Detail readers voted online for their favourite.
The award-winning projects also demonstrate the various challenges that must be met when planning public spaces. The pavilion by bureau SLA and Overtreders W in Eindhoven stood for only nine days; the library by ALA Architects in Helsinki is estimated to last 150 years. For their lightweight dome in Heilbronn, the planning team led by Achim Menges and Jan Knippers from the University of Stuttgart designed a structure made of glass and carbon fibre elements which can support around 350 times their weight. In contrast, the building complex by McCullough Mulvin and Designplus Associates for the Thapar University campus was based on simple, solid structures that could be built by local workers. Almost all of the winning projects are the result of long-term planning partnerships. The first structure by bureau SLA and Overtreders W using reused materials was built in 2012; that same year Menges and Knippers started their research into lightweight filament structures. The Thapar campus is also a collaborative “work in progress” by the Irish-Indian team, which is likely to continue for many years to come. We can therefore look forward to how these projects continue to develop.
Insights into the award ceremony
The winning projects: Oodi Central Library in Helsinki by ALA Architects, Thapar University Learning Centre by McCullough Mulvin and Designplus Associates, People’s Pavilion in Eindhoven by bureau SLA and Overtreders W and Buga Pavilion in Heilbronn by ICD/ITKE, University of Stuttgart.
The DETAIL Prize 2020 was awarded to ALA Architects for the Helsinki Central Library Oodi.
The DETAIL Prize 2020 was awarded to bureau SLA & Overtreders W for People’s Pavilion in Eindhoven.
ICD/ITKE University Stuttgart are the winners of the DETAIL Prize for Students and Schools of Architecture for the BUGA Fibre Pavilion 2019 in Heilbronn.
The DETAIL Readers’ Prize was awarded to McCullough Mulvin Architects for their project Thapar University Learning Laboratory in Patiala (India).
“Whoever leaves the building is surely a different person to the one that entered.”
Louisa Hutton on the Oodi Central Library in Helsinki