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Winners of Open Architecture Challenge: [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS
Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012 |

Architecture for Humanity has just recently announced the winners of its latest Open Architecture Challenge, [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS. The prestigious, bi-annual humanitarian design competition focused on re-imagining former military sites.

Detail of the Challenge Winner

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Detail of the Challenge Winner "Ocean & Coastline Observatory"

A Portuguese proposal to reassign the Trafaria defense batteries outside Lisbon, the "OCO" or Ocean Coastline Observatory has been declared the Open Architecture Challenge winner, placed first in a field of 508 teams from around the world. Designed by the Lisbon Architecture Collective, OCO re-interprets coastline protection by assigning the cannon-laden battery to defend against threats of environmental abuse. "More than an economic asset," the design team relates, "the ocean...defines our identity." The design proposes reusing the military buildings to supervise the sustainable preservation of the coast, and help preserve Portuguese heritage.

Challenge Winner - Ocean & Coastline Observatory, near Lisbon, Portugal

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Challenge Winner - Ocean & Coastline Observatory, near Lisbon, Portugal

For every Open Architecture Challenge, the Founders' Award goes to the entry that most reflects the mission of Architecture for Humanity. In 2012, the honor goes to a Ugandan proposal designed by Andrew Amara to augment a former army outpost and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp for use as a cultural center and marketplace for those who have become permanent residents there.

Founders' Award - Paicho Huts, near Gulu, Uganda

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Founders' Award - Paicho Huts, near Gulu, Uganda

The Challenge asked architects and designers to partner with community groups around the world and develop innovative solutions to re-envision closed, abandoned and decommissioned military sites. In this way designers worked with communities surrounding these former places of conflict to transform oftentimes hostile locations into civic spaces built for the public good.  

Each design submission resonated with hope, admiration, and reverence for the prospect of redeveloping ex-military bases. A total of 508 teams from 71 countries registered to enter the Challenge. Entries were evaluated by an interdisciplinary jury of 33 professionals for suitability with five criteria: Community impact; Contextual appropriateness; Ecological footprint; Economic viability; and Design quality. Jury members included the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Bahram Shirdel, Patricia Arquette, and Tom Kundig.

Other finalists targeted hot topic issues regarding environmental impact, political reaction, small-scale intervention, and economic development, for sites as varied as Old City Hebron, (Palestinian Territory), defunct World War II infrastructure in the Netherlands, seaside bunkers in New Zealand, "Peacewalls" in Northern Ireland, and Muammar Gaddafi's former palace grounds in Tripoli, Libya. Teams outlined scenarios for public community outreach which, in some cases, have already instigated larger municipal discussions of feasibility.

Here are the twelve finalists arranged by jury-determined categories.

Environmental Impact

Environmental Impact, First Place: Humboldthain Food Cooperative, Berlin, Germany

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Environmental Impact, First Place: Humboldthain Food Cooperative, Berlin, Germany

Environmental Impact, Second Place: Ecological Processing Zone (EPZ), Oakland, United States

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Environmental Impact, Second Place: Ecological Processing Zone (EPZ), Oakland, United States

Environmental Impact, Third Place: REGENERATE FT. CARROLL: a gateway ecological park, Baltimore, United States

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Environmental Impact, Third Place: REGENERATE FT. CARROLL: a gateway ecological park, Baltimore, United States

Political Response

Political Response, First Place: ALTER YOUR NATIVE BELFAST//ALTERNATIVE BELFAST, Belfast, United Kingdom

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Political Response, First Place: ALTER YOUR NATIVE BELFAST//ALTERNATIVE BELFAST, Belfast, United Kingdom

Political Response, Second Place: Kikotemal' Rik K'aslem Memorial, Guatemala City, Guatemala

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Political Response, Second Place: Kikotemal' Rik K'aslem Memorial, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Political Response, Third Place: Healing a Nation: Healing the Wounded, Tripoli, Libya

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Political Response, Third Place: Healing a Nation: Healing the Wounded, Tripoli, Libya

Economic Development

Economic Development, First Place: Magazine Hill: a weathered continuum, Pretoria, South Africa

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Economic Development, First Place: Magazine Hill: a weathered continuum, Pretoria, South Africa

Economic Development, Second Place: [ARCH]itecture for Comm[UNITY], Anniston, Alabama, United States

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Economic Development, Second Place: [ARCH]itecture for Comm[UNITY], Anniston, Alabama, United States

Economic Development, Third Place: The Store - Pillbox Conversion, Napier, New Zealand

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Economic Development, Third Place: The Store - Pillbox Conversion, Napier, New Zealand

Small-scale Intervention

Small-scale Intervention, First Place: PLUG-In HEBRON - People Liberated Urban Gaps In Hebron, Old City Hebron, Israeli Occupied Palestinian West Bank

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Small-scale Intervention, First Place: PLUG-In HEBRON - People Liberated Urban Gaps In Hebron, Old City Hebron, Israeli Occupied Palestinian West Bank

Small-scale Intervention, Second Place: B-Tower (TM), various sites, Netherlands

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Small-scale Intervention, Second Place: B-Tower (TM), various sites, Netherlands

Small-scale Intervention, Third Place: Paicho Huts, outside Gulu, Uganda (recipient: Founders' Award)

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Small-scale Intervention, Third Place: Paicho Huts, outside Gulu, Uganda (recipient: Founders' Award)

Support for the Challenge to date comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Autodesk (who has donated over $12,000 worth of software toward winning prizes), and Hewlett Packard Italy (donating materials for 2012 Venice Biennale exhibition).  

The next stage of the Challenge is the traveling exhibition, whose first stop will be the Venice Biennale. Launching August 27th in the Palazzo Bembo, [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS joins the palace's theme, "Traces of Centuries & Future Steps." The exhibition will then visit various locations in Europe throughout the Fall. Architecture for Humanity hopes to feature the exhibition in every city hosting a decommissioned bases targeted by a finalist, and seeks continued support for the exhibition and an accompanying photography series of these locations as they exist today.



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