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Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

United Kingdom Architecture News - Mar 6, 2020 - 19:06   3372 views

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal have announced winners for the 2020 W Awards, formerly known as the Women in Architecture awards. 

Francesca Torzo has been announced as the winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, Mariam Kamara has received Highly Commended, and Tracy Meller has been announced as the winner of the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice, in the 2020 W Awards.

In partnership with both The Architectural Review and the Architects’ Journal, the W Awards are a celebration of talent and ambition, of leadership and outstanding architecture.

The Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture recognises excellence in design and a bright future for women designers under the age of 45, with an emphasis on achievements and completed projects, while the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice awards an architect excelling in practice in the United Kingdom.

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

Wing 19, a new exhibition building for Z33 in Hasselt, Belgiu by Francesca Torzo. Image courtesy of The Architectural Review

The Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture goes to Francesca Torzo

Francesca Torzo, founder of Francesca Torzo Architetto, has won the Moira Gemmill Prize. Based in Genoa, Torzo’s architecture is one of care but also persistence and unyielding will. The extension to the Z33 art house in Hasselt, Belgium, and due to open on 14 March 2020, is informed by a memory of the beguinage in which it sits, creating a ‘silent’ facade of red brick along the street and a Kasbah of rooms nestled behind. The practice’s future projects include two residential projects in Italy and two in China, including a dance school in Bishan near Huangshan and a tea house in Yangshuo.

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

Francesca Torzo

Torzo will receive a £10,000 prize fund created in memory of the late Moira Gemmill, director of design at the V&A and latterly director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust. The prize fund will support Torzo in her continuing professional development.

Judges' comments:

"Each of Torzo’s projects is a complete reinvention of what architecture can be, with maze-like plans or strange constructional logics. Z33 is both beautiful and poetic, Torzo setting a scene for characters to animate, like a theatre director. She occupies the same space as Olgiati or Zumthor, but she goes even beyond her mentors – achieving a level of completeness in an industry that doesn’t often allow for it."

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

Mariam Kamara, Principal and Owner of atelier masōmī in Niger. Image courtesy of the LafargeHolcim Foundation

Highly Commended goes to Mariam Kamara

Mariam Kamara has also been Highly Commended for the prize. Based in Niamey, the founder of Atelier Masōmī concerns her practice with the use of locally derived resources and the representation of women and young people in public life. 

Recent projects include the Niamey 2000 housing development, conceived in 2016 with united4design, and Hikma religious and secular complex in Dandaji. This consisted of a new mosque along with the restoration and conversion of the former mosque into a community space and library, designed in collaboration with Studio Chahar and opened in 2018.

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

Hikma religious and secular complex in Dandaji, Niger by Atelier Masōmī. Image © James Wang

Judges’ comments:

"Kamara is creating space for vulnerable communities; architecture that really makes an impact, that changes social dynamics and relationships. Using vernacular construction techniques in a context with very few architects, she challenges the idea that you can only build in concrete, changing a relationship with landscape and ecology that presents a different kind of beauty."

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

Image courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice goes to Tracy Meller

Tracy Meller, partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, has been awarded the MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice 2020 for her work on Centre Building, London School of Economics, UK.

Won in competition in 2013, the project sets a new block of teaching spaces, lecture halls and staff offices into Holborn in the heart of London. The urban realm extends into the ground floor, leading in to a great meandering staircase that is designed to catalyse spatial and social connection – student enclaves are convivial and civilised, while staff areas, with a mixture of cellular and open- plan offices, are intended to tactfully dissolve departmental silos.

Francesca Torzo, Mariam Kamara and Tracy Meller win W Awards 2020

Tracy Meller, RSHP Centre-Building, LSE. Image © Joas Souza, courtesy of The Architectural Review

Judges’ comments:

"Meller is gutsy and humane at the same time. She’s a real leader, working collaboratively while still pulling the whole thing together. It’s a very difficult thing to do in a corporate culture, going against a general tendency of having a solo leading voice."

The full Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture shortlist comprises: Francesca Torzo, founder of Francesca Torzo Architetto, based in Genoa, Italy, Mariam Kamara, founder of Atelier Masōmī, based in Niamey, Niger, Simona Della Rocca, co-founder of BDR bureau, based in Turin, Italy, Stefanie Rhodes, co-founder of Gatti Routh Rhodes, based in London, UK.

Manon Mollard, editor of The Architectural Review said: "This year brings a strong shortlist of architects invested in the good of the communities they work in, from Hasselt to Dandaji to Turin to London. Their projects are as varied as the contexts they work in, but each proposes a sensitive and refined solution to the needs of their particular brief."

The full MJ Long Prize for Excellence in Practice shortlist comprises: Tracy Meller of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, for Centre Building, LSE, London, Emma Fairhurst of Collective Architecture, for Calton Hill City Observatory, Edinburgh, Alice Hamlin of Mole Architects, for Marmalade Lane, Cambridge, Nicola Rutt of Hawkins\Brown, for Here East, London.

Emily Booth, editor of the Architects’ Journal said: "The shortlist for the inaugural MJ Long Prize showcases real excellence in modern practice. From a university building to an innovative workspace retrofit, to co-housing, to the design and restoration of a listed landmark, each of these impressive projects demonstrates a clear understanding of context and care for the communities they serve."

Formerly known as the Women in Architecture awards, the W Awards recognise women’s global contribution to the profession, promoting role models for young women in practice and encouraging respect, diversity and equality in architecture: from lifetimes of achievement to the work of women with bright futures ahead, from the design of the world’s most significant new buildings to contributions to wider architectural culture.

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