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!