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Competition: Europan14

Europan, the world’s largest biennial design competition for young designers, has once again opened for entries (Deadline: 30 June)

Open to multidisciplinary teams aged under 40 years and based in Europe, Europan14 seeks proposals for 44 urban sites spread across 13 countries on the continent. Countries contributing competition sites include France, Spain, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Norway, but not the UK.

The latest competition is themed on how cities can integrate ‘production’ and small-scale manufacturing. The winning teams will each receive a cash prize worth €12,000 in local currency along with a commission to deliver their scheme.

‘Housing remains the main programme in many urban development projects of the post-industrial era,’ says the brief. ‘We wisely add some office places and public amenities, but remain especially keen on stimulating bars, shops and restaurants because we want every new district to be a “genuine” vibrant urban neighbourhood. Looking back at how we organised this wave of regeneration, we can see how we have systematically excluded one programme: the productive economy.

‘Of course, we should not bring steel factories back to the city centre. But we are already welcoming all kinds of small-scale urban manufacturing. We are accommodating more and more of the new recycling industry within the city itself. Production should be encouraged in the city, be part of the fabric, be allowed to be seen, connected to shared daily life, nurtured and celebrated.’

First held in 1989, Europan was set up to boost young European designers and promote open dialogue and cooperation between European countries on issues relating to housing and urban planning.

Now in its 14th edition, the contest is organised by a European federation of national architecture organisations. In January it emerged the UK had once again failed to offer up a single site for inclusion. The UK last submitted sites in 2008 for Europan 9 and is one of 16 European countries not participating in the latest contest, also including Portugal, Greece, Denmark and the Czech Republic. 

Europan contest site: Šibenik, Croatia

Europan contest site: Šibenik, Croatia

Europan contest site: Šibenik, Croatia

This year’s sites include a 31.5ha waterfront regeneration in Lillestrøm, Norway; a 17ha contaminated post-industrial site in Warsaw; and the 33ha campus of a former electrodes and feralloys factory in Šibenik, Croatia.

Competitors may apply for a maximum of one competition site in each participating country. Their applications may include either a strategic reflection on the overall site or an architectural solution for a defined part of the plot. All proposals will be evaluated by the Europan Scientific Council prior to the national juries selecting a winner.

Participating teams must feature at least one architect, with all members aged under 40 and holding either a European degree or working in Europe.

Submissions may be in English and potentially the local language of the contest site and must include three A1-sized display boards, a description of the submitted project plus three promotional images and a project text. Applicants must pay a €150 registration fee.

The overall winners will each receive €12,000 and a design commission. Runners-ups will receive cash prizes worth €6,000. A special mention may also be announced.

The deadline for applications is midnight (GMT+1), 30 June.

How to apply

View the competition website for more information

Fee

€150

Contact details

20 rue Godot de Mauroy
75009 Paris
France

Tel: +33 1 40 70 08 54
Email: contact@europan-europe.eu

Q&A with Didier Rebois

The secretary general of Europan reflects on the latest edition of the competition

Didier Rebois

Didier Rebois

Didier Rebois

How did you arrive at the theme for Europan14?

Europan has been working on the topic of the diversity of uses in European cities for many years now. Yet many clients have considered diversity as mixing housing with shops and sometimes services in the urban districts. With the economic crisis the issue of jobs in the city became a priority for both urban authorities and the European Commission. But there is now a change of paradigm – people do not automatically exclude the productive activity from the urban fabric anymore, as long as it is compatible with urban life. The industrial production or craftsmanship can be inserted again into the districts after the issue of land cost has been treated. Globalisation has led major companies to keep their research and innovation centres while transferring production to countries with a more affordable workforce. Still, with the evolution of technologies and a new logic for the economic circuit we could hope to see emerge a mix between the intelligence of product design and the urban modes of production on a smaller scale that are compatible with the city. Europan 14 questions the young professionals on the effects of these transformations of the urban space, because it is indeed essential to consider the city as bearing a capacity to adapt to evolutions.

What sort of architects are you hoping will participate?

Architects with a competence in urban planning have been interested in Europan for many years now. One major issue for us is to associate the urban, landscape and architectural reflections, so the competition opened to multidisciplinary teams with urban planners, landscape architects and other complementary skills. Still, we are perfectly aware that only a part of the young professionals is motivated by the questions of the evolution of the European city. This is why we have tried, for Europan 14, to propose different site scales, corresponding to different forms of approaches. We are stressing diversity with ‘XL’ sites on which a territorial and urban reflection is essential. But we also have ‘S’ sites, corresponding to the scale of urban architecture linked to larger questionings, but which in terms of projects mainly focus on architecture. Europan therefore wishes to expand the range of professionals who might be interested in participating. But we still have to make some effort to motivate the young professionals from the ‘new’ European countries, which do not necessarily have a culture of competitions or might believe those competitions do not lead to implementation. For example, we would like to reach countries like the ones that used to be part of the USSR.

How far has the Europan programme succeeded in its original aims, and where do you see it in the future?

It is not easy – in this economically and politically unstable period – to say for sure what the future urban practices in Europe will be. What we can see is a deep change in the relationships between the actors of the urban-architectural production. The dominant vision nowadays is a liberal urban planning and the privatised production of the city. Nevertheless, another form of urban production is emerging associating the public domain to multiple initiatives from users; it is a more collaborative approach of the conception, which considers the context as a component of the project once again, whether this context is physical – building the city on the city; ecological –considering natural elements and resources (reuse) associated to the densification of built areas; or economical –trying to set up a clever production based on short-distribution circuits and innovation.

Fallow Land case study: Q&A with Yes Studio and Play Studio

The winners of Europan 7 for a site in Vienna discuss lessons learned participating in the competition

How did your Europan-winning Fallow Land proposal set about enhancing Vienna’s urban environment?

Our project tried to respond to both a ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ approximation to the site problematic. From the ‘macro’ scope we have attempted to give our personal response to the suburban challenge through density, diversity, eco-eficiency and identity. On the ‘micro’ side we have responded to the complex site particularities (a triangular plot, placed in the outskirts of the city, surrounded by a heavy traffic way, an elevated underground line and crossed by a middle tension power line) through the importation/manipulation of the former countryside Viennese landscape into the plot.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Source: Image by David Frutos

Fallow Land by Yes Studio and Play Studio

The structure of the farmlands (fallow land) surrounding the city of Vienna, was used as a formal and conceptual design strategy capable to assume the multiple border conditions we were faced to. The ‘fallow land’ concept was inferred in three levels:

1. A lower level with public vocation where different common uses are placed surrounded by commercial activities and linked green areas. A new hub where improve social relations between neighbours and pedestrians in their way to the underground stop.

2. A second layer creates a kind of thick protective farmland roof where different patio houses are ‘cultivated’: a place for those who wish to live close to the ground staring at the sky through their patios.

3. A third level for those who wish to live in the heights, four towers with a profile that moves away from the power line, observe the city and surrounding landscapes.

Nowadays the project has assumed the condition of being part of the city image for a considerable number of Viennese people. A new landmark arises from the Viennese outskirts’ skyline bringing together a new approach to deal with the suburban pattern by creating a new piece of livable city.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Source: Image by David Frutos

Fallow Land by Yes Studio and Play Studio

What impact did winning Europan have on the development of your practice?

Europan is part of our label, a key element in our academic and professional careers. But on the other hand it is a bit sad for us to say that our prizes didn’t lead to any acknowledgement by clients or direct commissions. We could say that Europan is an innovative competition, an open field for new ideas in architecture and urbanism, so it represents a great opportunity to have the chance of learning other cultures by designing and building avant-garde projects in unexpected places.

What advice would you have to contest participants on engaging with this year’s Europan theme?

Find a nice plot and site. Choose only a place that you would be able to love. Stay tuned with it, its culture, drawbacks and goals. Focus on it and unleash all your architectural concentration. Be patient (sometimes lazy) along your finding and do not give it up. And primarily: ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ (Steve Jobs’s ending comment in the Stanford University Commencement lecture, 2005).

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Source: Image by David Frutos

Fallow Land by Yes Studio and Play Studio

Skylines case study: Q&A with Studio Muoto

The winners of Europan 7 for a site in Villeurbanne, France discuss lessons learned participating in the competition

How did your Europan-winning Skylines proposal set about enhancing Villeurbanne’s urban environment?

The site raised the question of urban mix, in the context of a heterogeneous fabric meant to become mainly residential. The main idea of the project was to develop a ‘sliced’ urbanism that would allow the introduction a vertical diversity that is not limited to active ground floors and to associate among others themed housing and specific activities. The idea of systematically slicing the site also aimed at a correspondence between vertical diversity and build form so that the new district could visually express its diversity. The projected district was presented as a crenelated horizon allowing a combination of very different building patterns. The idea was then to introduce a new tool of urban design favouring diverse typologies and to get closer to the suburban fabric, which is dense and heterogeneous and where city houses coexist with narrow buildings along the same streets. This is the reason why we had to get out of design based on plan.

Villeurbanne, France

Villeurbanne, France

Skylines by Studio Muoto

What impact did winning Europan have on the development of your practice?

Europan was the starting point of our office, Studio Muoto. We decided to create it to answer the urban study and go on answering competitions independently from the offices in which we were working by then. The competition and the studies that followed were particularly structuring on a professional level. The Europan label worked in a very indirect way for us. Although it did not bring us orders or invitations to competitions we can say it enrolled us in a certain network of architects that are particularly concerned with urban issues and the large scale

Villeurbanne, France

Villeurbanne, France

Skylines by Studio Muoto

What advice would you have to contest participants on engaging with this year’s Europan theme?

Our advice? Think that any building can be a place of production. The big factories have been gone from western countries for long. We may yet imagine that factories may take new forms. Not necessarily that of big infrastructures. You see ‘fablabs’ emerging everywhere. And people work at home as well. So we could easily envisage a world where consumption turns into production. The limit between both spheres may be slim. Associating two activities that usually work independently may be already a way of turning facilities in places of production. Also production is not necessarily a material activity. You can produce signs, images, concept, ideas… knowledge! That’s what we call cognitive capitalism. Universities in that sense are already places of production.

Villeurbanne, France

Villeurbanne, France

Skylines by Studio Muoto