Let’s write the future - the 2017 ABB LEAF Awards winners

25 October 2017



The 16th annual ABB LEAF Awards featured the most internationally diverse array of nominees in its history. Amongst the luminaries and rising stars, one of architecture’s most influential figures was recognised with the LEAF Award for Lifetime Achievement.


On the cool last evening of a London summer, more than 140 of architecture’s biggest international names descended on London’s Royal Horseguards Hotel for the 16th annual ABB LEAF Awards. The glittering black-tie event on 21 September recognised winners in 19 categories, as well as bestowing and bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on educator and trailblazer Sir Peter Cook.

This year, long-time partner and technology pioneer ABB took up a new position as headline partner and trophy patron, reflecting the company’s mission to recognise the brightest creative stars in global architecture and design.

The panel of judges included Vanessa Brady OBE, SBID president; Alan Crawford, the Crawford Partnership; Andrew Bromberg and Michael Clark of AEDAS; Firas Hnoosh, Perkins+Will; Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG; Michele Pasca di Magliano and Viviana Muscettola, Zaha Hadid Architects; Paolo Rossi from SOM, and Theo Nicolaou of Areen Design.

Rick Kelsey, BBC reporter and presenter of Radio 1’s Newsbeat, was master of ceremonies for the fourth year running. Katrin Förster, International Key Account Manager for Architects and Interior Designers at ABB, noted that this year’s awards featured more entrants than ever before, hailing from? 24 countries. She also unveiled the 2017 trophy, an angular column of anodised steel designed by ABB’s Vladimir Meier. Each trophy featured a letter on its top face; when placed all together, the trophies read “Let’s Write the Future.”

2017 award winners

The first award of the night, Mixed Use Building of the Year, went to Labics and 3TI Progetti for City of the Sun in Rome. “The public realm space is fully integrated with the built elements…which makes it rich in experience,” the judges noted.

Residential Building of the Year (Single Occupancy) was awarded to Studio MK27 for Jungle House in Sao Paulo, Brazil, described by the panel as “optimising the connection between architecture and nature, whilst maximising views out to the ocean and sunlight within the internal spaces.”

The judges praised Sanjay Puri Architects for responding to a local need for high rise residential buildings with “private open spaces”. The studio took home Residential Building of the Year (Multiple Occupancy) for Ishatvam 9 in Ranchi, India.

Lighting designer Axolight sponsored and presented the two awards for interior design. Nikken Space Design’s Toba Bettei in Mie, Japan, collected the Interior Design Award – Completed, commended for “representing the exquisite harmony between the building and the garden.” The Interior Design Award – Future went to II by IV Design for The Residences of 488 University Avenue in Canada: “a shimmering glass and steel 37-storey condominium project.”

After a break in the proceedings, Design Unit collected the award for Commercial Building of the Year with Factory in the Forest in Penang, Malaysia, which the judges noted “serves as a model for building in challenging climatic conditions.”

The panel also praised the environmental credo of the winner of Hospitality Building of the Year - Completed, saying it demonstrated “a profound awareness of the complex relationships of the eco-systems being inhabited.” The gong went to WOW Architects and Warner Wong Design for the Maldives’ Vommuli Island resort.

Hospitality Building of the Year – Future was won by Enota for the Tetusa Oasis Resort in Cesme, Turkey. “Visually separated but connected spaces flow through the inner atria like unique oases,” the judges enthused. Enota was also nominated in the same category for its Stone Terrace Hotel in Croatia.

Turkish architecture continued to dominate in the Refurbishment of the Year category, awarded to Tabanlioglu Architects Melkan Gursel and Murat Tabanlioglu for their work on Istanbul’s Beyazit State Library – described as an “exemplary updating and fine-tuning.”

SSH’s Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre in Kuwait took home Public Building of the Year, “a celebration of the scientific and cultural achievements of mankind.”

“I'm feeling absolutely delighted, it was a wonderful evening and to win in this company is a real achievement,” said Ray Phillips, design director and chief strategic officer at SSH. “Architecture in Kuwait is pushing the boundaries.”

Sustainability and future innovation

Sustainable Development of the Year – Completed went to Grüntuch Ernst Architects for German School in Madrid. The project won plaudits for its “return to traditional simplicity in combination with innovative technological sophistication.”

Post-dessert, Cerno + Architekten took home Best Sustainable Development of the Year – Future. “This modular solution is in harmony with the simplicity of the existing house,” the judging panel said of the modestly named “Extension of the family house” in Bratislava, Slovakia. Peter Cerno dedicated his win to his son, who was seriously ill and unable to attend.

Aedas designer Andrew Bromberg collected Future Building of the Year – Drawing Board for Chengdu City Music Hall in China, which the panel praised for “portraying an interesting balance between the physical and the ephemeral.”

Future Building of the Year – Under Construction went to Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia for Italy’s Dallara Motorsport Academy. “Simplicity, compactness and economy of shape dictates detail,” the judges said of the project.

Hamamyolu Urban Deck in Eskisehir, Turkey, won Yazgan Design Architecture the trophy for Urban Design Project of the Year. The panel applauded it for “breathing new life into an otherwise forgotten street.” Founding partner Kerem Yazgan said later: “[To win] was a great feeling, not only for me but also for the city.”

The award for Façade Design and Engineering of the Year, sponsored by Innox, went to Astad for designer Jean Nouvel’s work on Doha’s National Museum of Qatar, which had also been shortlisted for Future Building of the Year – Under Construction. Panellists called it “a truly stunning architectural piece resembling the desert rose.”

The final category award of the night was Developer and Development Project of the Year, which went to CoCo Architecture for “Olemps, a multi-generational space city” in France – described as “an ambitious community project, smartly planned.”

Celebrating a life in architecture and design

Before the overall winner was announced, Professor Bob Shiel of The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London took the stage to introduce the evening’s LEAF Award for Lifetime Achievement. Previous years’ awards have honoured Santiago Calatrava, Moshe Safdie and Daniel Liebeskind.

“I think it's fair to say that Peter is the most influential figure in progressive architecture education in the last 50 years,” Shiel Sheil said. “It struck me that here we are celebrating somebody's life who was born in the 1930s, whose ideas are as relevant today as they ever were.”

He went on to describe Cook as “an extraordinarily generous person” and a “national treasure”, before presenting him with the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2017 to enthusiastic applause.

“I’m still the right side of 81. The next building is going to be the best one and the funkiest one, so watch out,” said Cook as he accepted the award. He added, “You are a wonderfully international group, and I have spent many decades enjoying being a member of a non-national community.”

Cook said he hoped the industry would continue to value global collaboration and inventive thinking, and, on a lighter note, concluded: “I'm optimistic that one day we will rediscover the long lunch.”

Katrin Förster of ABB re-took the stage to present the Overall Winner Award to the best shortlisted project in all categories. The winner for 2017 was Canada’s II by IV Design, which also won the Interior Design Award – Future category.

“I truly am lost for words to be honoured here this evening. Thank you to all the incredible talent, keep up the amazing work – we are changing the world,” said founding partner Dan Menchions as he accepted the award with co-founding partner Keith Rushbrook.

“It all starts with an amazing client,” Rushbrook added. “This is the direction we’re going, and we would welcome the opportunity to work here in the UK.”

As the evening drew to a close, Förster said: “It was fantastic to see the diverse number of entries into the ABB LEAF Awards from around the globe.”

“The atmosphere tonight has been brilliant,” she added, “and I would like to pay congratulations to everyone who was shortlisted and those masterpieces crowned winners of their category.”

Sir Peter Cook accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award.
Guests at this year's ABB LEAF Awards enjoy a drink at the reception at London’s Royal Horseguards Hotel.


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