Juryreport 2019


Jury report Euregional Prize for Architecture 2019

Saturday 16 November – Reiffmuseum, Aken
The Euregional Prize for Architecture is a cross-border prize awarded annually to the best graduation projects in the five participating schools of architecture in the so-called Euregion Meuse-Rhine. The five participating schools are: Maastricht Academy of Architecture, RWTH and FH Aachen, the universities of Hasselt and Liège. For this edition of the EAP the schools selected a broad variety of graduation projects.
Out of over 400 master graduation projects, 29 were presented to the jury. The number of students in a school was normative for the number of projects the schools could send in. Yesterday the jury studied all projects and received a brief explanation about each project, given by a lecturer of the school. After intensive discussions, nine projects made it to the second round and after more discussions, seven made it to the third round. From these seven projects three honourable mentions were chosen, one extra honourable mention and a third, second and first prize.
This morning and afternoon the nine projects were studied meticulously and discussed again. Comparing the projects was not an easy job: for example the topics and scale of the presented information were extremely different. Some students work in studio settings with a given assignment, others are completely free to choose their graduation subjects, to name just a few sides of the spectrum. The jury was enthusiastic about the presented projects, and would like to thank the authors for their fine work!
Before announcing the prize winners, the jury would like to reflect on some general issues.
We highly appreciated a series of interesting themes that were set by the different universities. Themes such as re-use of the environment and its resources, rethinking both rural areas and urban communities and spaces for a new era of consciousness. Architecture as poetry, spaces for contemplation and examples how buildings and places could be re-activated to strengthen communities. These are challenging themes that provoked students to tackle these issues sometimes in a poetical and sometimes in a realistic way, and to address questions of  social development.
Even though it was not possible to honour them all, the presented projects stimulated an intense debate among the members of the jury. The projects engaged us in various discussions about the role of architecture. A master thesis is a unique chance to raise questions without restrictions. Also the jury acknowledged a shift in the perception of the role of the architect: another way of authorship, less defined by the ego of the architect. Secondly the jury discussed the issue of 'craftsmanship' and the way authors deal with it in a contemporary way, and thirdly upcoming ways of thinking places and buildings as non-determinated. This new generation raises intriguing questions that also teaches us something.
Lastly, the jury appreciated the strong personal connection of many authors with their theme or project.
Three projects have been awarded an honourable mention. Each one of these projects represents a particular theme of architecture.
I will now announce the honourable mentions in alphabetical order
The first project aims to design new workspace in an abandoned place near the center of Maastricht.  The author investigated how start-ups work and created space for connection and the individual maker. How can buildings allow flexibility? Part of the project is a building with a rack-like structure with individual boxes. The jury appreciates the sense of space and atmosphere, which Christiaan would call ' l’empleure'.
The first honourable mention goes to:
Arnaud Charoy - Workbench; The Adaptive Workspace (FH Aachen)
The second project implements Muslim life into an existing backyard in Berlin. The idea is to offer a spiritual home for the community by a diversity of in-door and out-door spaces. The strength of the project lies in the delicate way of drawing, the especially beautiful designed outer spaces and a strong sense of materiality. The project shows a strong notion of introversion within a dense space: it forms a new world that responds to its context in a beautiful way. Also the project led to interesting discussions in the jury. It is praiseworthy to think about integration of another culture through an architectural project.
The second honorable mention goes to:
Sophie Schüttler - Muslim Civic Center Berlin (RWTH Aachen)
This project for a new museum in Cologne is located at a formally industrial location at the waterside. The project  consists of a block-like structure, clad in glass, in combination with a tower. The jury appreciates the way the project is located, the good proportions of the block, the refined industrial structure and the non-imposing factory-design. This project evokes the beauty of the 'ordinary' and fits exactly on its site.
The third honorable mention goes to:
Leah Stockburger - Centre for Industrial Culture (RWTH Aachen)
One project earns a special honorable mention. This project in Charleroi is a conversion of a bank with a hotel on top of it into a Faculty of Arts. The main design issues were bringing light to the interior and the reorganization of the circulation. Semi-public functions are not only situated on the entrance level but also on the fifth floor of the building, introducing a sort of elevated extra ground floor. The jury wants to emphasize the clarity of the interventions, the good analysis on how art schools work and the finely designed rooms for study. The jury appreciated the way the building gives identity to the place and the thorough work of the authors.
The special honourable mention goes to:
Alexandra Marion & Nicolas Sougnez - ESAGAC (ULg Liège)
And now for the winning projects. After two days of intense discussion the jury awarded one project with the third prize, one with the second prize and one with the first prize.
These projects distinguish themselves through the personal engagement of each student, the in-depth research that lies at the basis of each project, and the way the research was materialized into the presented ideas, leading to projects that have a strong sense of authorship.
The third prize goes to a project that not only designs a new structure in the centre of Maastricht but also addresses the way we look at death. The structure is designed as a car park in a tower but will change over time into a columbarium. In that way the project brings back death from the periphery to the centre of the city and our consciousness: it is a statement that reminds people of their mortality. The jury was intrigued by this way of thinking about transition and the notion of time in the project. Furthermore, the jury was impressed by the strong personal approach and the way this project is full of European architectural references. Also the project reflects on densification and transformation of mobility. Overall the jury was intrigued by the poetry of the project and the unusual combination of functions. 
The third prize goes to ‘Moving (On)’ by Sien Swinnen (UHasselt)
The second prize goes to a poetic, also highly personal project. The author designed a house for her Vietnamese grandmother at a place somewhere at the river Maas. The jury recognized a strong project on the verge of fiction that draws the viewer into its atmosphere. This project sparked off a lively debate amongst the members of the jury. What does the project deal with exactly? The jury concluded that it makes us aware of Western architectural traditions, that it challenges our preoccupations and recalls our Euro-centrism. The project has the potential of changing the way we look at Western architecture. The jury highly appreciates the sensitiveness of the project and the way the author explores Vietnamese common life by working with skillfully made sketches and a model.
The second prize goes to ‘Grandma's House’ by Tran Boi Linh Nguyen (MAA Maastricht)
And now for the first prize…
The first prize goes to a project that was in many ways outstanding. It is situated in Chorweiler, a residential suburb. This project implements new working space into a residential area from the 1960 and introduces spaces on different levels: from a bazaar to small-scale makerspaces. An underused car park becomes a craftsmen-centre and public space. The jury emphasizes that this project is both modest and ambitious. In an outstanding way it reinvents space and adds new programme: a 20th-century structure is used for a 21st-century way of creating environment rather than architectural objects by embracing the existing conditions. By thoroughful reading of the existing surroundings and careful observations of living and working in this neighbourhood, the project produces strong urban spaces. The jury is fully convinced of the spatial qualities of the project. The jury sees this project as an excellent example of a strategical urban intervention resulting in urban acupuncture which also could be described as 'soft architecture'. 
The first prize goes to ‘Creating Chorweiler’ by Johann Eckartz (RWTH Aachen)
Jury: Floris De Bruyn (chairman), Rob van Baalen, Cédric Libert, Karsten Weber, Jurjen Zeinstra
Jury secretary: Andrea Prins