Juryreport 2015



The projects you are about to see after this award ceremony are the very best graduation projects from the Euregion of the past year.

For each edition of the EAP, the five architectural schools and universities in the field of architecture and design in the Euregion are invited to nominate their best graduation projects for this prize which honours, via the exhibition, the website and the jubilee publication, young design talent.
The number of projects the schools can nominate is related to the number of graduates. Ulg Liège sent in 8 projects, RWTH Aachen 10 projects, UHasselt 6, FH Aachen 3 and last but not least MMA+ Maastricht sent in 3 projects.


The jury meeting took place on Friday 6 November and Saturday 7 November. In preparation we read the project descriptions that were sent in by the designers. On Friday representatives of the five architecture schools introduced us to the different projects. The jury had the very difficult task to select seven projects from these thirty excellent projects to award with prizes and honourable mentions. We don’t complain, it’s an honourable task, but also a very difficult one. 


The projects differed more than one on first glimpse might think: in scale, in subject, in design approach and in representation. The jury was impressed by the variety and wide range of the projects. The issues of some graduation projects testify to social awareness on the part of the designers. Many designers worked with existing buildings: altering to adapt them to new functions and refit the urban tissue around it. Some projects are so realistic that it seems they can be built at any time, while others take a theoretical or speculated approach. The wide range of projects proved to be difficult for the jury. How do you compare a thesis with an architectural project? And it triggered an existential discussion about architecture and about the master proof also known as graduation project.


Although most projects touched on important questions, some designers had difficulty answering them in a satisfying way.
Some projects left the jury with many Why? questions. The information on the panels sometimes proved not sufficient enough. Vital information like details and reflection were missing.
Some projects presented the research part separately in a book, that helped a lot.


And then there were big differences in the way the projects came about. Some projects started in the first phase collectively in a studio with a given topic, after which they evolved into individual projects,  projects in which the students set their own topic and brief. There were projects that matured over a longer period of time, but also  projects that were done in only six weeks. Unanimously the jury agreed that the six-weeks projects have potential, but they need to mature.

A proof of the overall quality of the graduations project is the fact that only nine projects didn’t make it to the first round. It took many more voting rounds and passionate discussions in front of the projects before the jury decided which graduation projects to honour with a prize.


But before we go to the moment everybody is waiting for, the jury would like to give three tips for next year’s graduates:
- keep in touch with the world, with society and environmentally relevant design;
- don’t create an object or an image but an integrated design;
- search for added value in the function and context.



And now for the prize winning projects. When selecting the winning projects, the jury looked for projects that reflect social meaning and are anchored in reality. How to work and how to design in this complex society? The winning projects show some essence of what architecture could be.


Four projects are given an Honourable Mention. Each of these four projects touches, in their own, yet not always perfect way, upon an interesting and/or socially relevant topic. In alphabetical order:

How to deal with the modernist heritage? Demolish it or treasure it? This project chooses for the last option. By adding new buildings on the site, a former swimming pool gets a new public function. The new volumes will house the library, thus preventing this important social function in the city centre from moving to the outskirts of the town. The former swimming pool will house additional library functions, such as an auditorium and exhibition space. There are some doubts about the chosen form in relation to the existing urban fabric, but the quality of the project convincingly reanimates the modernistic icon.

The first honourable mention is awarded to:
‘Revelation of a modernist icon’ by Simon Ancion and Jimmy Thonon (ULg Liège)

And how to deal with our social heritage? One possibility is finding a new meaning for the building that refers to the past. This project changes a hard working environment into a luxurious spa. The underground spa is situated next to an old mine shaft and re-uses the hot mining groundwater. The project consists of positive and negative volumes, which give it a sculptural quality. The jury has some questions about the wall, especially the location of it, but was charmed by the poetic qualities of the project. 

The second honourable mention goes to:
‘Recreational Spa Constanzia' by Rüdiger Schwalm (FH Aachen)

This project addresses a very important and current problem. How and where do we house the old people who live in small villages and who can’t stay in their houses which are no longer suited for their needs. A new typology is introduced in the village and implemented in three different locations. Among the jury there was discussion if the typology of a small tower building is the answer to this social problem. But trying to find a new typological solution for this problem is praiseworthy.

The third honourable mention goes to:

‘Plug-in’ by Lotte Willems (UHasselt)


This graduation project is on one side of the spectrum of architecture. It goes from design to realisation. It is small scale and has a very simple design question. How to make an environmentally friendly garden house? The designer chose an existing construction component: a scaffold. Before it could be implemented, details had to be improved, which happened with the help of the manufacturer. In the final phase the structure was built in the garden of the university, an essential and pure solution.  

The fourth honourable mention goes to:

‘AllotHouse’ by Magdalena Zabek (RWTH Aachen)



And now for the winning projects.
After two days of reviewing and discussing, and again reviewing and discussing, the jury awarded one project with the third prize, one with the second prize, and one project with the first prize.

This very sensitive project touches on global issues in a very humble way. Local knowledge, vernacular and craftsmanship shape the training and teaching centre for local fishermen. The project addresses the topic of overfishing and polluting our oceans and the aquatic building itself  has been worked out into the smallest detail.  
The third prize goes to ‘Sealab’ by Marie Frioni (UHasselt)

Architecture can be other than buildable and functional buildings, it has also cultural and theoretical components. This project is outstanding and was intensely discussed by the jury. It tells the story of a town that wants to build a new town hall. All the inhabitants get involved and react on each other in a very democratic way. The result is a mysterious construction. But while being involved with the construction of their town hall they neglect their city which starts to fall apart. The story is about the factors that result in the, according to the designer, foolish act of building.
The second prize goes to ‘Laleburg and its second town hall’ by Klara Bindl (RWTH Aachen)


This project represents a very important future task for architects. It deals with the urban tissue by making new connections between parts of the city. It deals with big modernistic buildings that are out of use, the memory of the city. An old department store is converted into an archives centre. The original construction is used to make a spectacular atrium. The ground floor is opened up to make new connections and on top a new construction allows light in from above. On the top floor the most public rooms of the archive are situated. Walking to the top floor on the grand staircase passing the archive rooms, will lead to a sacred experience: walking to the light, up to the knowledge.
The project is very complete and mature; it takes care of the urban as well as the technical problems.
It’s an honour to present the first prize to:

‘reMEMORE – Archive centre’ by Maxime Faniel and Romain Toussaint (ULg Liège)




Jury: Franz Ziegler (chairman), Annette Hillebrandt, Michel Prégardien, Lieven Achtergael, Thomas Neumann.

Jury secretary: Marina van den Bergen.


Heerlen, 14th November 2015.