Long competition shortlist


Cardedeu, by EMC-Arquitectura (Dezeen)

Aside from repeating the headline that the World Architecture Festival’s shortlist for World Building of the Year 2015 is way too long, there’s not much to say for this year’s candidates. Nor even a lot to say against them. Most of it’s been said before, here if not elsewhere. There are some striking entries, but they do not look like buildings. Maybe that’s the whole idea. If the winner is the building that looks least like a building, then the world of architecture is upside down. So what else is new?

World Building of the Year 2015 shortlist announced” was sent to me by Malcolm Millais, architect, engineer and author of Exploding the Myths of Modern Architecture. He called the contest shortlist unencouraging and uninteresting, which may qualify for understatement of the year.

The first one, a meeting hall of rectangular concrete through which one may peer to a lake with mountains beyond, benefits from its Salvadoran setting. But it still doesn’t look like a building. It is a landscape in a gallery that will not hang any picture without the most austere frame, even if the picture within the frame is extraordinary. We’ve all been there before. In fact, it is a chapel. You can make anything these days and if you can step inside of it you may by right call it a chapel. But my favorite is another rectangular concrete building with an even more acute angle – or maybe it is the same building without the generosity of being photographed at dusk with its scenery in the background: actually I just checked and it is the same building, Cardedeu, by EMC Arquitectura, shorn of any reason to feel affection for it.

Honesty in packaging! A venerable principle of modern architecture honored mainly in the breach! But choose your camera angle with care! And for those inclined to pray there, watch out – step too far onto the prow of this house of worship and you and it might tip right over.

So look at the shortlist, 338 “buildings” in 31 categories. (Did I mention that the shortlist was too long?) If you can figure out any standard by which they measure each against the other to choose a winner, please let me know! And I’m informed that the winners are already announced and that I won’t like them, either! World Architecture Festival without end!


Same as the above, from a different angle and time of day.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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2 Responses to Long competition shortlist

  1. kristen says:

    yes, a long shortlist – but not Dezeen’s – it was just reporting on the World Architecture Festival’s Word Building of the Year, and winners have been announced (you won’t like them, either): https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/congratulations-2015-waf-winners


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