Rewarding copper architecture

Eight very different entries have been shortlisted for the 2017 European Copper in Architecture Awards, reports architect and judging panel moderator Chris Hodson


he European Copper in Architecture Awards programme celebrates the beauty and versatility of copper and its alloys through some of the best contem- porary architecture. It also seeks to expose to a wider international audience inspira- tional projects, some of which might otherwise go unrecognised. The judging panel for this eighteenth iteration of the biennial awards consisted of four architects, all recipients of previous awards: Ebbe Waehrens (BBP ARKITEKTER, based in Copenhagen), Maxime Enrico, (LAN, Paris), Ville Hara (Avanto Architects, Helsinki) and Craig Casci (GRID Architects, London). Entries were assessed from photographs, drawings and descriptions submitted by their architects. Considerations included overall architectural design, response to programme and context, importance of copper to the scheme, and its detailing. The judges were impressed by the quality of entries generally and the range of copper applications displayed. Choosing a shortlist from the 35 entries, with major public buildings alongside modest domestic schemes, presented a real challenge and generated lively debate. But the judges eventually agreed on eight projects, summarised here in no particular order. They stood out from the rest with a diver- sity of typologies and design approaches – and some exceptional architecture.

Row of six houses in a barn, Italy – Studio Roberto Mascazzini Architetto

Located on the edge of an ancient rural village now absorbed into Milan’s suburbs, a collapsing barn has been replaced by this new building. Use of the same location, size,


shape and materials as the original building was a planning requirement and presented the architects with fundamental challenges. Their response envisaged some of the demolition material, taken from solid brick walls and porphyritic floors, having new life within a shell for the new building.

The crushed material is contained within metal net gabions of corten steel, distrib- uted uniformly across both roofs and walls, creating a ‘legacy’ aesthetic. This technique also provides continuity between facades and roofs, defining the monolithic shape of the original barn, reinforced by an absence of gutters, downpipes, window sills and other traditional details.

The recycled material gabions alternate with sections of copper of varying heights, again linking facades to roofs. All the openings of the houses are contained within the copper zones where they cannot compromise the integrity and strength of the building. They can be hidden by verti- cally folding, copper-clad shutters that open and close mechanically, offering shelter against the sun and rain.

Lahti Travel Centre, Finland – JKMM Architects

The New Travel Centre – located at the heart of Lahti and next to the existing, historic railway station – forms a transport hub connecting the rail network to both long-distance and local bus lines. It consists of a 60 metre canopy for the bus terminal, enclosed lift and stair structures, local bus stops on the street and supporting landscape elements. There is also a road tunnel underneath the centre. Together,

Row of six houses in a barn © Simone Bossi

Lahti Travel Centre © Mika Huisman


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