Zumtobel Group Award 2014: International Jury Nominates 15 Projects in Three Categories

From 356 submissions for the fourth Zumtobel Group Award an international expert jury has nominated a total of 15 projects. For the first time, the public call for submissions for this award for innovations for sustainability and humanity in the built environment, issued in the second half of 2013, offered three categories instead of the previous two. The existing categories, BUILDINGS and URBAN DEVELOPMENTS & INITIATIVES, were joined by a new category: APPLIED INNOVATIONS. The prizes in each of the three categories are presented by one of the international lighting group’s three brands – Tridonic, Thorn and Zumtobel. The curators and jury members welcomed the enhancement of the concept behind the award and the more pronounced focus on the topic of innovation:

“The Zumtobel Group Award that we have curated for the past eight years is not a static object but an evolutionary process. Just as, under the influence of the respective times, the jury helped drive forward future developments through their decision, responding as they did so to social and technological demands and changes, we, as the curators have joined with the initiator of the award to take it forward by adding the “Applied Innovations” category. The large number of submissions, not least in this new category, and the intense debate within the jury only serve to underline the increasing relevance of the interplay between human beings and technology,” said Kristin Feireiss and Hans-Jürgen Commerell, Founders of Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin (DE) and curators of the award.

The 2014 Award jury: from left: Yung Ho Chang, Brian Cody, Winy Maas, Rainer Walz, Ulrich Schumacher, Kazuyo Sejima and Kunlé Adeyemi. (photo courtesy of Zumtobel)

“Thinking on sustainability has moved on a little bit. Some five years ago it was more about reduction and stopping things. Now there is a stronger desire to live with the contradictions of our times and to find ways to fulfil the wishes of the population in a sustainable way. Many technological inventions are directed towards that,” said Winy Maas, architect and founder of MVRDV, Rotterdam (NL), and chair of the 2014 jury.

“Innovation requires a lot of things, including technical ideas but also institutional and organizational innovation. Today we even talk about social innovation. Really strong, good innovation combines these different forms. The idea of sustainability also requires that all of the different actors take up the challenges that arise out of global issues. The Zumtobel Group Award sets an important example in this regard,” said Rainer Walz, Head of Competence Center Sustainability and Infrastructure Systems, Fraunhofer ISI Karlsruhe (DE) and member of the jury.


The new APPLIED INNOVATIONS category, sponsored by the Tridonic brand, rewards innovations and technological solutions that make a trailblazing contribution to the realisation of a more sustainable built environment. The award in this category addresses technical universities, research institutions, individual engineers and firms of consulting engineers, as well as technology start-ups. Submissions could include innovations that have been proven in a prototype, a test series or an application in an actual project. From among 50 submissions in this category, the jury has nominated the following offices and projects (in alphabetical order):

1) Arup Deutschland GmbH for “Solarleaf” in Hamburg (DE) – photo-bioreactor façade system

2) Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore / ETH Zurich (CH), for “Bamboo Reinforced Concrete” – innovative renewable building material

3) James Ramsey, New York (USA), for “The Lowline” N.Y. – fibre-optic technology to capture sunlight underground

4) KONE, Espoo (FN), for “Kone UltraRope” – elevator technology

5) Lehm Ton Erde Baukunst GmbH, Schlins (A), for “Re-Innovation of Rammed Earth by Prefabrication” – use of rammed earth as a building material

In the BUILDINGS category, sponsored by the Zumtobel brand, submissions could include outstanding building projects that have been completed within the last two years (30 November 2011 – 30 November 2013). The winning project should meet the highest aesthetic standards and also feature innovative solutions that permit the more efficient use of resources, enhanced environmental protection and the creation of better living conditions. From among 146 submissions in this category, the jury has nominated the following offices and projects:

1) Lacaton & Vassal architectes, Paris (FR), for “House Transformation”, Saint-Nazaire, La Chesnaie (FR) – social housing block transformation

2) RMA Architects, Mumbai (IN), for “Corporate Office for Infrastructure Company” – office building employing the idea of a double skin

3) Rural Urban Framework, Hong Kong (CN), for “House for all Seasons”, Shija Village (CN) – Housing prototype for rural regions in China

4) Studio Tamassociati Architects, Venice (IT), for “Port Sudan Paediatric Centre” – children’s hospital

5) Urban-Think Tank, Zurich (CH), for “Vertical Gymnasium Santa Cruz Del Este”, Caracas (VE) – sports and recreation facility for urban upgrade

The focus in the URBAN DEVELOPMENTS & INITIATIVES category – sponsored by the Thorn brand – is on projects and initiatives in an urban context: city development/planning strategies, master plans, public space projects and ongoing research projects and social initiatives designed to enhance urban and social settings. Entries could concern projects concluded within the last two years as well as ongoing projects and initiatives. The winning project from among 160 submissions will make a pioneering contribution to greater sustainability and quality of life, as well as presenting innovative potential solutions to the core issues facing urban development. In this category the jury has nominated the following offices and projects:

1) ArchiAid, Sendai (JP), for “Architect Network to Support Reconstruction” – (following the tsunami in Japan)

2) Burgos & Garrido Arquitectos / Porras La Casta / Rubio & Á._Sala / West 8, for “Madrid Río”, Madrid (ES) – locating the ring road underground and redesigning the urban landscape

3) Elemental, Santiago (CL), for “Pres Constitution” – sustainable reconstruction master plan

4) Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto (JP), for “Megacity Skeleton” – housing prototype project aiming to improve the living environment of high density residential areas

5) Turenscape, Beijing (CN), for “Qunli Stormwater Park”, Qunli New Town (CN) – a green sponge for a water-resilient city

We are delighted at the high level of interest and the large number of submissions for the Zumtobel Group Award 2014,” said Zumtobel Group CEO and jury member Ulrich Schumacher. “Through the award we are aiming to encourage a lively and intense public debate about current problems in the built environment. This kind of discussion, which we also experienced among the members of the jury, is conducive to driving progress on the various topics and fostering innovative approaches to solutions. With that in mind, we congratulate the 15 nominees on their projects which, in the opinion of the jury point the way forward towards greater sustainability and a better quality of life in the built environment, and hope that they benefit from extensive public awareness of their work.”

The selection process comprised several stages. Early this year, from among all 356 submissions a pre-jury selected 15 projects from each category which were then presented to the main jury in May. The jury then nominated five projects per category. One winner was selected from the five nominated projects in each category. The names of the winners of the Zumtobel Group Award 2014 – and a ranking of the nominated projects – will be published at a press conference in London on 22 September 2014. At the jury session it was decided that all three categories merit equal treatment, which means that each first prize carries a purse of €50,000.

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