Edition 2001

European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture-Mies van der Rohe Award 2001. Excerpts from the Act of the Jury

The jury of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture-Mies van der Rohe Award 2001 has decided that this year's prize will be given to the Kursaal Centre in San Sebastián, Spain by Rafael Moneo.

In its first meeting in Barcelona on February 3 and 4, 2001, the jury considered the more than 200 works that had been nominated by the independent experts and the national architects' associations from all over Europe.

In its meeting in Barcelona the jury members established a first list of exemplary works for the exhibition and catalogue about this edition of the prize. To honour the memory of Enric Miralles and his significant contribution to architectural culture they decided that all three of his nominated works would be presented in the exhibition and catalogue.

The jury also made the selection of works that were finalists for the prize: the Altamira Museum and Research Centre, Santillana del Mar, Spain by Juan Navarro Baldeweg, the new Courthouse of Nantes by Jean Nouvel, the Unibank Headquarters in Copenhagen by Henning Larsen, and the Kursaal Centre.

Immediately after visiting these four works the second meeting took place in Copenhagen where the jury members entered into an extensive change of opinions regarding the finalists works and their respective merits.

The Altamira Museum and Research Centre represents an intelligent and sensitive response to its topographical conditions. On its visit to the Courthouse in Nantes the jury was impressed by its dramatic and expressive qualities that are especially appropriate for its purpose as a public building of great importance. With respect to the Unibank Headquarters, the jury appreciated the elegant and well-executed solution to its commercial programme and the skilful proposal of an urban form that completes the city block and the waterfront.

The jury emphasised the masterful resolution of the Kursaal Centre in relationship to its unique site. The extraordinary manner in which it responds to its urban condition as well as to the surrounding landscape is achieved through a forceful synthesis of formal ideas. The powerful image of two beached rocks reflects its position on the bay and the mountainous landscape beyond while its massive dimensions, radical geometries and translucent materials allows the ensemble to become a singular piece of the urban tissue.

The jury expanded and ratified its definitive selection of works to be published raising the total number to 39. This large number of works represents the high level of architecture produced in Europe in the last two years as well as the increased participation of the independent experts and European architects' associations.

The sudden and tragic death of Ignasi de Solà-Morales induced them to provide for him a homage in the exhibition and catalogue.

The criteria for the Emerging Architect Special Mention was based on two considerations: that the authors were no more than 40 years of age when the works were finished and they had realised a maximum of one other work in addition to that which was nominated for the prize.

Out of a field of 12 proposals, the jury decided that the Emerging Architect Special Mention for this edition of the prize will be given to the Kaufmann Holz AG Distribution Centre in Bobingen, Germany by Florian Nagler.

This work is an example of how a programme for a simple warehouse can be transformed into a significant work of contemporary architecture. This is achieved through the careful handling of typological elements common to industrial buildings such as: the massive doors that subtly articulate the principle façade; the finely-detailed wooden structure; and the simple plan transversed by an elevated central passageway that provides for both supervision as well as the operation of machinery. Moreover, the utilisation of a single material for the translucent skin permits views into the warehouse while also creating a dynamic, luminous work space inside.

April, 2001