Edition 2009

European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2009. Jury Proceedings

The Jury of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award has decided to give the 2009 Prize to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo by SNØHETTA.

The Jury met on two occasions. In their first meeting held in Barcelona on February 6-8, 2009, they reviewed the 340 nominated works. After extensive debate, a preliminary list of 38 works were selected for inclusion in the catalogue and exhibition. Among these, five works were highlighted as finalists to be considered for the Prize:

- Tramway Terminal of Nice, France, by Marc Barani / Atelier Marc Barani

- Luigi Bocconi University, Milan, Italy, by Shelley McNamara, Yvonne Farrell / Grafton Architects

- Library, Senior Citizens' Centre and Public Space, Barcelona, by Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, Ramon Vilalta / RCR Arquitectes

• Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo, Norway by Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Tarald Lundevall, Craig Dykers / SNØHETTA

• Zenith Music Hall, Strasbourg, France by Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas / Studio Fuksas

After visiting the five finalists between April 23-25, the Jury met again on April 26 at the Triennale di Milano. The members expanded the list of works to be presented in the publication and exhibition to a total number of 50 in response to the large number of nominated works and as an affirmation of the high quality of architecture developing throughout Europe. Differing widely in terms of scale, programme and context, this ample selection reflects the strength of European architectural culture and its connection to urban values.

Subsequently, the Jury members entered into an exchange of opinions about the finalists and their respective qualities. The Jury members concluded with satisfaction that while each of the projects presented a particular strategy in response to their specific site conditions and programme, all five finalists dealt with contemporary situations and issues and from a conceptual standpoint confronted and resolved the real challenges that our cities face today.

The intelligent and sensitive response of the Tramway Terminal of Nice to both the complicated topography of its site and its complex programme was highly praised. Located on the edge of the city, wedged between the motorway, blocks of social housing and the hills behind, through the skilful weaving together of the different functions – the tram station, the workshops and the parking – the project strives to reinvent a new architectural typology for what is normally considered merely infrastructure.

The Luigi Bocconi University was admired for its very meticulous reinterpretation of the architectural culture of Milan. The building's high quality in terms of concept and execution - from the structural expression to the articulation of the details; the skilfully designed corner and the fragmented lateral block composition; the generous use of light and the clear circulation pattern - allows the building to assert a strong presence in the heart of the city.

The Library, Senior Citizens' Centre and Public Space in Barcelona was commended for its capacity to go beyond being just a project of urban infill by exploring a strategy of permeability that allows for a fluid relationship between the interior and the exterior, facilitating contact and interaction between the various user groups- The global approach of the design concept integrates urban design, architecture and interior design, resulting in a rigorous and coherent ensemble.

The urban periphery is all too frequently characterised by chaotic development and banal constructions. Making quality architecture emerge in such a difficult situation, as is the case of the Zenith Music Hall, is a considerable achievement and even more so given the limited budget. The innovative use of the translucent textile skin to cover the entire volume, a dynamic landmark that revitalises the outskirts of Strasbourg has been created.

After extensive debate, a decision was reached to award the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet the 2009 Prize. An example of the power of architecture to recuperate urban territory and transform it into public spaces of great quality, the new opera is the first element in the urban plan to revitalise Oslo's harbour area. The building is a catalyst of all the energies of the city and it takes on the role of a new cultural symbol for the citizens of Oslo.

The Gymnasium 46° 09' N / 16° 50' E in Koprivnica, Croatia by Lea Pelivan and Toma Plejić / STUDIO UP was chosen for the Emerging Architect Special Mention from 28 projects shortlisted for the Special Mention. The building, with its mixed-use programme of sports hall and school, transforms the suburban periphery of Koprivnica by creating a landmark and an emblematic place for the young people of the town.