World Building of the Year awarded to Poland's National Museum and Dialogue Centre
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World Building of the Year awarded to Poland's National Museum and Dialogue Centre

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This is a piece of topography as well as a museum. To go underground is to explore the memory and archaeology of the city, while above ground the public face of the building, including its undulating roof, and be interpreted and used in a variety of ways
– The jury, led by David Chipperfield

The National Museum and Dialogue Centre in Szczecin, Poland has been declared the World Building of the Year 2016.

Polish architecture studio Robert Konieczny KWK Promes were awarded the prize by a jury led by British architect David Chipperfield. The result - which caps what has been a transformative year for leisure architecture - was revealed at a gala dinner in Berlin on the final day of this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF).

The project, which won the 17-strong Culture Building sub-category on the festival’s opening day, is a museum and educational centre located in Szczecin’s Solidarity Square that charts the city’s recent history, including the anti-Communist rallies which took place at the site in 1970.

The main building sits underground, with the roof forming part of the square so that the value of open public space is retained.

Explaining what makes the project so special, the judges said: “This project enriches the city and the life of the city. It addresses a site with three histories, pre-World War II, wartime destruction, and post-war development which left a significant gap in the middle of the city.

“This is a piece of topography as well as a museum. To go underground is to explore the memory and archaeology of the city, while above ground the public face of the building, including its undulating roof, can be interpreted and used in a variety of ways.

“This is a design which addresses the past in an optimistic, poetic and imaginative way.”

The National Museum and Dialogue Centre was previously awarded the European Prize for Urban Public Space 2016.

Meanwhile, the World Landscape of the Year prize was awarded to New Zealand firm Isthmus Group for the Kopupaka Reserve in Auckland. A part of a new urban centre currently under construction, it was masterplanned with the urban design closely integrated with the green infrastructure of the 22 hectare Kopupaka Park. The project aimed to add value to a proposed stormwater system by integrating community amenities, including a park.

The jury, which was comprised of Gustafson Porter director Mary Bowman, editor of landscape architecture review Topos and Noero Architects principal Jo Noero - said: “We felt this project was a successful translation of Maori traditions to create a striking contemporary river landscape. Isthmus Group succeed in being both poetic and imaginative, creating a landscape which captures the nature and soul of the Kopupaka Reserve.

Leisure architecture has been thrust into the spotlight this year, with cultural projects recognised in the Stirling Prize, the Aga Khan Awards, the 2016 Structural Awards, and also dominating the shortlist of the inaugural RIBA International Prize.

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The National Museum and Dialogue Centre in Szczecin, Poland has been declared the World Building of the Year 2016.
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