The World Architecture Festival celebrates the work, concerns and aspirations of the international architectural community, during a three-day event taking place in Barcelona, Spain from 22 to 24 October 2008. Divided into many categories, work from around the world has been assesed by a large panel of well-known judges.
The winner in the Learning categorh clearly demonstrated architectural, pedagogic and urban gravitas. Grafton Architects’ new faculty building for the Luigi Bocconi University in Milan is a sober yet distinctive addition to the hermetic Milanese townscape. Carved deep into a city centre site, it creates a magical subterranean realm of lecture theatres, courtyards and concourses, all accessible by the public, with offices for teaching staff literally suspended above. The jury admired its mature handling of space, light and local materials by architects who, though not from Milan, succeeded in distilling the essence of this tough city into a confident, contemporary form. The project also emphasises the public and social qualities of academic life and its power to cultivate relationships with the city and the wider world.
Other Irish architechs shortlisted at the Festival in Barcelona were Murray O’Laoire, Brian O’Connell Associates, O’Donnell & Tuomey Architects, and Architecture53seven.