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World Architecture Festival, 2018: Savouring Radical Innovative Picks

Posted by
on January 02, 2019 at 02:38 PM

© Courtesy of internet resources

The World Architecture Festival, which concluded this year on 30th November at Amsterdam, is always an opportunity to witness and enjoy the essential best of the architectural practice from around the world. This year, too, saw some extraordinary picks among the shortlisted projects as well as the winners. Innovation, being the most elemental promise of new designs, marked out some of the winners with exciting brilliance matched by plain simplicity. Here, we dip in to savour these virtues in two of these remarkable entries at WAF 2018, Amsterdam.

Muku Nursery School, Japan by Tezuka Architects

Nursery school – a child’s first venture outside the home into the wide world, a little first peek into formal systems that rule world order – should ideally instil a twin sense of freedom and confidence in little minds and bodies. This is the precise purpose with which Japanese firm Tezuka Architects seem to have conceived and created Muku Nursery School in Tokyo which was the WAF 2018 awardee in the category of school, completed buildings. A continuous wall-less space that allows unfettered movement and creates limitless opportunities for playful exploration, this school incubates the vibrancy of growth.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

An elliptical ring in plan surrounding a large central courtyard, the main feature of this building is its continuous decked rooftop that allows the kids a boundless space to run around and play. The numerous trees that peep through being surrounded in safety nets allow children to safely climb and explore them. The roof height is intentionally low to allow its top to be visible from the courtyard ground, which doubles as an event space. The railings that bound the roof top deck are so designed as to allow children to dangle their legs while sitting along the boundary to watch events taking place in the courtyard arena. The classrooms are not defined by any walls but are provided with box units which the kids help in arranging to form divisions when needed.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

At Muku Nursery, no child is forced to sit in a class he/ she doesn’t feel like sitting in, they can run around until the circular layout naturally brings them back, jokes Takaharu Tezuka. Based on the belief that urban kids need to be given the opportunity to run free and explore, that they ought to be a little less protected and a bit more exposed to injuries, disappointments and fears, the Muku school administration led by the Principal collaborated with Tezuka’s team. They created this sensitively articulated space that reverberates like an limitless cauldron of energy when occupied by the kids. Yes, noise is an essential element for little children to function comfortably in, they believe, and so this school ensures there is never a barrier to cancel it out into a pin-drop silence. 

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

In fact, children playing on the roof get to peep in to the classes below and interact with their friends through the many skylights and nets there. These 600 children of the age-group of two to six do an average of six to eight rounds on the oval roof of 183 metres circumference during their normal course of play, so keeping physically active comes most naturally. In fact, every aspect of this school facilitates whatever comes naturally to human children – run around in circles, clamber over each other to climb trees, peep in and out of classrooms, make noise and function in that noise – as opposed to the excessive tendency for controlled environments and functions these days. That is, perhaps, also the reason why this design still continues to be recognised and celebrated more than a decade after it was built in 2007! 

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

Lookout Path at Gypsum Mines, Barcelona, Spain

This piece of newly built (2018) city level infrastructure in Barcelona gets recognised for its ingenious and ecologically sensitive design solution of a landscape poser. The Lookout Path at the Old Gypsum Mines designed by Batlle i Roig Arquitectura  has won the WAF 2018 award in the category of Landscape - Completed Projects.

© Courtesy of internet resources

As part of a larger plan to have a peripheral ring of usable open spaces around the city of Barcelona by interlinking several parks, pathways and other green areas, this lookout path comprises a 1.65 km long pedestrian/ cycling track of which 800 metres have been completed. The track which meanders through a variety of greens including a pine forest growing in the area of a former gypsum mine has a tri variant cross section. The three parts include a main 3 m wide granitic sand track to ensure the continuity of the existing green ring. A central ‘lookout’ track of 1.2 m width offers vantage views of Igualada city on the outer edge and is embedded with luminescent concrete which uses the solar radiation absorbed during day to light up the track during night. As the track zigzags around the greens to preserve the biodiversity it widens into shoulders at vantage points where seating is provided. The final vantage at the end of this 800 m stretch cantilevers out over the edge of the cliff.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

The ideal balance between sustainability and technological application that this project manages to articulate in such a sophisticated manner hardly leaves us surprised with the accolades it is attracting. 

© Courtesy of internet resources

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