At the Inside competition, held for the first time in Barcelona last week, shortlisted teams delivered live presentations of their projects in a crit process most hadn’t submitted to since their student days. Ultimately, the nine category winners faced off for Interior of the Year in front of a super-jury that included designers Jaime Hayón, Ilse Crawford and Andre Fu.
China’s Neri & Hu took the top honour for its Shanghai hotel project, The Waterhouse at South Bund. The 19-room boutique hotel occupies a 1930s building modernized to retain a sense of history, in stark contrast to the slash-and-burn development approach across the Huangpu River. The super-jury also awarded Amsterdam firm Opera a special mention for its design of the Ceramics Study Galleries in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Opera’s elegantly simple display solution allows the entire 26,000-piece collection to be on permanent display.
Organized by British B2B media mogul Emap, the competition drew hundreds of entries from more than 35 countries. In addition to the big prize, firms from Asia and the Pacific Rim walked off with over half the awards, while Europeans nabbed a third and Vancouver’s Ruf Project took the culture and civic category for a football training centre in Soweto, South Africa.
Besides the project presentations to sit in on, talks and panel presentations rounded out the two-day program. Attendance was sparse but enthusiastic, and for a first time event, the lineup – including a panel featuring restaurateur Albert Adria of elBulli fame – was impressive.
The Inside festival was held simultaneously and in the same venue as the World Architecture Festival, now in its fourth year. Next year’s plans are to move the festival to Cologne to coincide with Orgatec. Linking up with the established office furniture fair makes a lot of sense, but Barcelona is long on climate and flavour, and for the candidates, the majority of which are architecture firms, the cross-pollination and synergistic effect of the WAF would be lost.