‘Architectures WITH’ is the Focus

Obel Award Launches Sixth Cycle

John Hill
6. June 2024
Image courtesy of Obel Award

In awards that carry a hefty money prize equal or greater to the 100,000 euro Obel Award — among them the Pritzker Prize, the Oberlander Prize, the RAIC International Prize, the Driehaus Prize, and others — the winner is usually selected for a body of work, for the quality of buildings or landscapes they have created over the course of their career. The Obel Award sets itself apart from the rest by having the jury determine a focus that the “scouting committee” then bases its submissions on and from which the jury later decides the winner. This focus-based process helps to make the award timely and relevant in regard to contemporary crises, it expands the role of the jury compared to other awards, and it opens the award to a wide spectrum of creations, from buildings and landscapes to technologies and urban concepts. This last point is evident in the winners of the five previous cycles:

The 2024 Obel Award focus, as determined by the jury chaired by Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, is “Architectures WITH.” This focus with a plural noun and a prepositional emphasis hints at architects working with professionals in other fields to solve today's challenges. Here is how the jury describes it:

  • Architectures WITH looks at navigating the difference between participatory and co-creation as well as bringing in other bodies of knowledge to the center of the design process.
  • Architectures WITH questions the role of the architect and the profession as a whole, through re-envisaging technique and exploring radical new ways of sharing and giving agency to all stakeholders.
  • Architectures WITH will open the discourse to take practicing architecture beyond where it is today. Looking to address collective design and process with other disciplines and be co-creative in a non-hierarchical way. What is the honest way of working with, where  the architect takes on the role of translator.

Next, the anonymous scouting committee will submit projects for the jury to assess in relation to the year’s current theme, and the jury will meet later in the year determine the winner. Accompanying Kjetil Trædal Thorsen on the jury is Nathalie de Vries (MVRDV), Louis Becker (Henning Larsen), Dr. Wilhelm Vossenkuhl (professor emeritus of philosophy), XU Tiantian (DnA), Aric Chen (Nieuwe Instituut),
and Sumayya Vally (Counterspace).

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