Two Projects Win European Prize for Urban Public Space

by John Hill
On 6. July 2016
Image: Courtesy of European Prize for Urban Public Space

The recovery of thermal allotments in Caldes de Montbui, Spain, and the new Solidarność Square in Szczecin, Poland, were announced as joint recipients of the 9th European Prize for Urban Public Space at an awards ceremony on Monday, July 4th.

The irrigation system in the thermal allotments in Caldes de Montbui by Marta Serra and Elena Albareda (Ciclica) and Jordi Calbetó (Cavaa), and the Przelomy Centre for Dialogue in Solidarność Square in Szczecin (Poland), by Robert Konieczny (KWK Promes), are joint winners in the prize that, since 2000, "has recognized and publicized the results of transformations and improvements in the public spaces of Europe." A total of 276 projects from 205 cities and 33 European countries were in the running for the prize, from which 25 projects were shortlisted. In addition to the joint winners, the jury awarded four special mentions and a special recognition award.

The annual prize is promoted by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona together with six European institutions:  The Architecture Foundation (London), the Architekturzentrum Wien (Vienna), the Institut français d’architecture / Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine (Paris), the Museum of Finnish Architecture (Helsinki), the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (Frankfurt) and the Museum of Architecture and Design (Ljubljana).

The international jury was drawn primarily from the participating institutions, with architect Enric Batlle, on behalf of the CCCB, serving as president: Matevž Čelik, Director of the Museum of Architecture and Design of Ljubljana; Hans Ibelings, a Dutch architecture historian and critic; Juulia Kauste, Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki; Ewa P. Porebska, an architect and architecture critic from Warsaw; Francis Rambert, Director of the Institut français d’architecture in Paris; Peter Schmal, Director of the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt; Dietmar Steiner, Director of the Architekturzentrum Wien; and Ellis Woodman, Director of the Architecture Foundation in London.

Information on the winners, special mentions and recognition, and shortlisted projects is available on the European Prize for Urban Public Space website.

Irrigation system in the thermal allotments in Caldes de Montbui (Photo: Adria Goula)

Irrigation system in the thermal allotments in Caldes de Montbui by Marta Serra and Elena Albareda, and Jordi Calbetó.

Jury statement:

Many elements come together in this project of conserving a traditional system of food production at the edge of the town, extending its public space and using recycled thermal spring water. In Caldes de Montbui, the irrigation system for the historic orchards had become inaccessible and polluted with sewage, a situation which led to the breakdown of the irrigation community. The original irrigation path has now been given a double use in becoming a public walkway in this low-budget, minimal intervention conserving the previous agricultural structure while also generating a new relationship with the town centre. The town and its surrounds are connected with a boardwalk over the old irrigation canals. In this rural setting, seventy local farmers, private landholders, have worked together in this overlap of commons and private. More than concerns about design, the accent is on understanding community irrigation processes and how to recover them as an integral part of this new intervention. The solutions adopted show how small-town populations can work together towards productive and environmental sustainability. 

Irrigation system in the thermal allotments in Caldes de Montbui (Photo: Adria Goula)
Przelomy Centre for Dialogue in Solidarność Square in Szczecin by Robert Konieczny (Photo: Juliusz Sokolowski)

Przelomy Centre for Dialogue in Solidarność Square in Szczecin by Robert Konieczny KWK Promes.

Jury statement:

This intervention is notable for its several layers, namely a museum, memorial and square in a city, much of which was destroyed in the war. After World War II, when it was incorporated into Poland as a result of the Yalta Agreement, the German population was replaced by a Polish population and, as a result, the social fabric and the city’s identity were distorted. However, the sense of borders is still strong. 

Later, in the 1970s, it was a site of demonstrations where shipyard workers were killed. In this innovative project, the square —renamed Solidarity Square and located in front of the emblematic Philharmonic Hall— is integrated with the museum of modern history of the city in an undulating topography which, with one lifted side, screens out traffic, while the other side rises to provide space to accommodate the museum. 

Local residents can have a sense of roots here as their history is in this place. The square is used for ceremonies but is also compatible with everyday activity. This is a space with highly symbolic value, a monument in itself. 

Przelomy Centre for Dialogue in Solidarność Square in Szczecin by Robert Konieczny (Photo: Juliusz Sokolowski)

The jury also awarded four special mentions:

  • Barkingside town centre improvements in London (Great Britain)
  • Multipurpose Hall in MolenBeek-Saint-Jean (Belgium)
  • Ring of Memory: International Memorial of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Ablain-Saint Nazaire (France)
  • Garden of the Heavenly Hundred in Kiev (Ukraine)

Barkingside town centre improvements in London (Photo: DK-CM)
Multipurpose Hall in MolenBeek-Saint-Jean (Photo: Maxime Delvaux)
Ring of Memory: International Memorial of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Ablain-Saint Nazaire (Photo: Howard Kingsworth)
Garden of the Heavenly Hundred in Kiev (Photo: Alena Saponova)

Lastly, the jury gave a special recognition to the city of Copenhagen "in acknowledgment of its public policies to improve the quality of life in public spaces."

Cykelslangen (The Bicycle Snake), DISSING+WEITLING, Copenhagen (Photo: Rasmus Hjortshoj)

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