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For the sixth annual AZ Awards, our intrepid jury narrowed the field from over 800 submissions, received from dozens of countries, to select just 48 finalists that stood above the rest. In addition to presenting the AZ Award winners, Azure recognized these projects, products and concepts with Awards of Merit.

The following six projects are Awards of Merit winners in the categories of Architecture Over and Under 1,000 Square Metres.


The Waterhouse at South Bund
This 19-room boutique hotel, in a former Japanese army headquarters in Shanghai, boldly embraces its gritty history. Because Neri&Hu Design and Research Office has kept the weathered brick and left the water-stained concrete unvarnished, the rounded exterior is so rustic it looks almost derelict. By contrast, the guest rooms are spacious and sleek, with Imondi oak floors and terrazzo bathtubs, and many look out onto the bustling Huangpu River. The top floor is panelled in a rich amber Corten steel, a nod to the dockland locale’s industrial hist­ory.

Location: Shanghai, China

Firm: Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, China

Team: Rossana Hu and Lyndon Neri, with Debby Haepers, Markus Stoecklein, Jane Wang and Cai Chun Yan

Harbin Opera house
MAD Architects1,600-seat venue is to northeastern China what the Guggenheim is to Bilbao. The design, with its swooping, curvilinear forms, owes a debt to Gehry, if only a small one, but the bigger influence is the Manchurian landscape, with its winding rivers and billows of snow. Patrons enter through the lobby, which is lit up with a curtain wall made from miniature glass pyramids, and find their seats in a theatre built from swelling masses of local ash. As well, a narrow promenade is cut into the aluminum-clad exterior, giving visitors a thrilling new way to explore the site.

Location: Harbin, China

Firm: MAD Architects, China

Team: Ma Yansong, Yosuke Hayano and Dang Qun, with Jackob Beer, Fu Changrui, Zheng Fang, Daniel Gillen, Liu Huiying, Jordan Kanter, Kin Li, Sohith Perera, J Travis Russett, Julian Sattler, Bas van Wylick and Zhao Wei ­

Porto Cruise Terminal
Near the city of Matosinhos, Portugal, at the precise point where land meets sea, Luís Pedro Silva’s cruise terminal is a stunning concrete and granite marina, research facility and event space, with an exterior so singular it could double as a sculptural installation. Pedestrian ramps encircle the central hub, then bend outward like an unspooling ball of yarn, while concrete piers extend, tentacle-like, into the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the HVAC system is ingeniously powered by waves, an abundant resource.

Location: Porto, Portugal

Firm: Luís Pedro Silva Arquitecto, Portugal

Team: Luís Pedro Silva with Fernando Azevedo, António Babo, Artur Costa, António Ferreira, Vasco Peixoto Freitas, Veloso Gomes, Ricardo Gonçalves, Pedro Gordinho, José Carlos Lino, José Magalhães, Antóntio Mata and Eulália Soares ­

Stanford University Central Energy Facility
As utilitarian as it is beautiful, ZGF Architects’ facility replaces a fossil fuel plant with a solar farm, an electrical substation and a heat recovery system, with the goal of reducing annual carbon emissions on the campus by nearly 140,000 metric tons. The plainspoken facility, built from concrete, Corten steel and reclaimed wood, will also serve as an intellectual powerhouse. The winner of this year’s AZ Award for Environmental Leadership, it features a teaching centre and a lecture hall, in which a thermal storage drum doubles as a podium. The centrepiece is a massive hot water tank, whose exter­ior is lit up at night like a glowing red beacon.

Location: Stanford, U.S.

Firm: ZGF Architects, U.S.

Team: Joe Collins, Toby Hasselgren and Renee Kajimoto, with Christopher Flint Chatto, Sienna Hill, Bradley Iest, Glen Justice, Michael McGale, Kelvin Ono, Nicholas Robertson and Curtis Williams ­


Public Library of Constitución
The 2010 earthquake in Chile devastated the coastal city of Constitución, reducing its library to rubble. Sebastian Irarrázaval Arquitectos’ rebuild makes use of the region’s two most abundant resources: timber and skilled crafts-people. Except for the concrete firewalls, the building is constructed entirely from laminated pine. Each of the three main rooms – separately designed for children, teens and adults – has a vaulted ceiling, similar to the nave of a church but simpler and more rustic. The most charming elements are the arboreal finishes, including millwork benches upholstered in bark brown and leafy green.

Location: Constitución, Chile

Firm: Sebastian Irarrázaval Arquitectos, Chile

Team: Sebastian Irarrázaval with Alicia Arguelles, Joel Barrera, Macarena Burdiles, Sebastián Mancera and Carlos Pesquera ­

He, She & It
Is this three distinct sheds or one interconnected whole? The answer is, both. “He” is a painters’ studio, a windowless white cube lit by skylights. “She” is a ceramicists’ and silversmiths’ workshop with ample fenestration and maple cladding. “It,” a poly­carbon­ate greenhouse, offers its plant inhabitants the thing they need most: natural light. Davidson Rafailidis designed the three sites to be separate but interdependent. On sunny days in Buffalo, heat from the greenhouse warms the entire site, and when it’s cloudy the sheds can be partitioned off to maximize heat retention.

Location: Buffalo, U.S.

Firm: Davidson Rafailidis, U.S.

Team: Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis, with Matthew Dore, Jia Ma and Alex Marchuk ­

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