After days of deliberation, a jury of experts has selected the top 10 finalists for the Schindler Award 2012. Centered on the Swiss capital city of Berne, this fifth edition of the prestigious European architecture competition features a daunting challenge: how to breathe new life into a historically neglected neighborhood – currently home to a sterile concrete parking garage, an imposing railway bridge and a bustling rehabilitation center for drug addicts.
The 10 finalist teams of all had to creatively improve public spaces and integrate urban repair ideas into their planning, while also incorporating the various cultural and fringe groups that have settled in the “project perimeter” area. The teams were charged with drafting a new master plan that would raise utilization and density in the perimeter without excluding any of the existing social institutions. Improving the overall quality and accessibility of the public area for the disabled and impaired was equally important, in keeping with the Schindler Award’s “Access for All” design philosophy.
Some 1,600 architecture students registered to participate, and 113 teams handed in completed projects. A pre-jury led by Professor Kees Christiaanse selected the 50 strongest proposals for the Grand Jury to evaluate.
Made up of 14 well-known architects, professionals and representatives from organizations for the disabled, the Grand Jury (see box) took a deep dive into the proposals during three days of intense working sessions in mid-September. “They really did their homework,” reports Schindler Award Program Head Andrea Murer. “They first toured the Schützenmatt together to familiarize themselves in detail with the area of Berne in question, then convened in the Grand Jury meeting room to discuss and evaluate the proposals at length. They worked long days – and have done a great job!”
The Grand Jury emerged from their deliberations with a list of 10 finalist teams, who will all be officially recognized at an award ceremony at the Paul Klee Museum in Berne, Switzerland on December 7, 2012. The winners will be announced at that time, with monetary prizes awarded to the top five teams and architecture schools represented.
On the Award
The Schindler Award is held every two years and seeks to change the way young architects approach their work. It challenges them to think beyond form, light and materials and to focus on the needs of the people who will eventually inhabit the structures and spaces that they design. It has the goal of improving access and overall mobility for all city dwellers, irrespective of their age, status or physical capabilities. It is open to architecture students who are either in their last year on a bachelor's course or attending a master's course at a European university or school of architecture.