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The World Architecture Festival’s shortlist for 2014 is replete with mind-blowing and imaginative projects, and multiple nominations for firms – including Sanjay Puri Architects, Tabanlioglu Architects, and 5468796 – that are not the usual suspects.

Zaha Hadid, BIG and Foster + Partners have all made the shortlist of the World Architecture Festival‘s architecture awards. but the firms with the most nominations are just as exciting even if they don’t have the same name recognition. Among them, many are from Eastern Europe and Asia, with Turkey’s Tabanlioglu Architects and Vietnam’s Vo Trong Nghia each earning seven nominations apiece, and India’s Sanjay Puri picking up five. Another Turkish firm – Emre Arolat Architects – leads the pack with nine. Among other firms with multiple nods, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, of the U.K., received six, and the international firm Aedas received eight.

The multiple nods are especially meaningful considering the breadth of the competition, whose 31 categories range from small projects (a new category) to masterplans, and from completed structures to future concepts. WAF announces the winners of the architecture competition, as well as those of the Inside Festival (where Asian firms received half of the nominations), at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore on October 1 to 3.

Here are just a few of the shortlist’s fantastic buildings that may have flown under your radar:

1 Selcuk Ecza Headquarters by Tabanlioglu Architects
For an Istanbul pharmaceutical company, Tabanlioglu designed this 9,000-square-metre flagship, nominated in the Office category. What makes this commercial building unique is that feels like a house – one with seven volumes (shown is the back facade) clad in a veil of wood strips. Atria and internal courtyards give employees and visitors a connection to the outdoors.

2 Bombay Arts Society by Sanjay Puri Architects
Nominated in the Culture category, this sculpture of a building feels at once primordial – like giant rocks smoothed by the ocean – and futuristic, with its viewfinder glazing. The firm describes the 1,300-square-metre tower in Mumbai (shown in rendering) as a “carefully planned, organic building.” It features two spaces housing different programs, and public and private areas that flow one into the other.

3 Yalikavak Marina Complex by Emre Arolat Architects
Nominated in the (oddly named) Shopping category, this extension to an existing marina complex seems like a composition that arises naturally from its mountain backdrop. Situated on the Yalıkavak lagoon in southwestern Turkey, it accommodates a clientele accustomed to the finer things in life, like megayachts and four-star dining. Retail, restaurants, and a beach-pool club are among the many amenities in this handsome building.

4 Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Administration Information Building by Aedas
Excavated around Suzhou city, slabs of Taihu – the scholar’s stone – inspired the stacked-tile facade of this unusual building. Nominated in the Higher Education and Research category, the structure houses an administration centre, a learning and resources zone, a training area and a student activities space.

5 62M by 5468796
In its home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, 5468796 has changed the face of multi-unit residential. Nominated in the Residential category, this project by the Canadian firm is not an experimental concept – it is actually being built. The UFO on 10-metre stilts will provide each of its 40 units a panoramic view of the surroundings. The firm was also recognized in Competition Entries for its design proposal for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Azure WAF house

6 Stamp House by Charles Wright Architects
Australia’s Charles Wright Architects was nominated for just one WAF – in the House category – but, boy, does this house in Queensland sure deserve a mention. The solar-powered, off-the-grid, carbon-neutral home, with multiple cantilevered wings that soar over the water, looks like a sci-fi bunker. Inside the cast-concrete shell with the mysterious dot matrix pattern, the interior is animated by incredible vaulted ceilings.

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