World Architecture Festival Announces its 2024 Shortlist

COMPILED BY Gina Dionisio PHOTOS Adam Letch; Graeme Wyllie; Aaron Miles; Xia Zhi; Fabian Ong; Egemen Karakaya; Nicolas Gildemeister; Brigida González; Ishita Sitwala; Bharat Aggarwall; Turenscape; Yilong Zhao; Hufton and Crow; Egemen Karakaya; Adam Mork; Simon Devitt; Peter Bennetts

The World Architecture Festival has revealed its 2024 shortlist of innovative buildings from around the world, including five South African projects.

The World Architecture Festival (WAF) revealed its shortlist of over 480 projects up for awards in 2024.

This year’s finalists represent 71 countries, with the top five shortlisted countries including China, Australia, United Kingdom, India and Singapore. The finalists range from major world architects, including Zaha Hadid Architects, WOHA, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, MVRDV, Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Kohn Pederson Fox and Nikken Sekkei, with many emerging practices also on stage competing against the big names.

Five South African projects have been shortlisted this year:

Below, in no particular order, are 20 outstanding international projects up for awards this year.

Rhodes House Transformation by Stanton Williams

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Rhodes House Transformation by Stanton Williams

WAF Completed Buildings: Retrofit

Designed by Sir Herbert Baker and completed in 1929, Rhodes House is located on South Parks Road in central Oxford. The transformation of the building required significant interventions and major structural alterations to open up the existing building to enable the creation of a new 300-seat Conference Hall, Foyer spaces and offices, all invisibly integrated into Rhodes House, along with 21 bedrooms in the old East Wing and new residential accommodation in the East Gardens. A new glass pavilion sits within the West Gardens above new lower-ground Office spaces.

Preston Level Crossing Removal Project by Wood Marsh Architecture

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Preston Level Crossing Removal Project by Wood Marsh Architecture

WAF Completed Buildings: Transport

Bell Station’s façade references the heritage-listed housing stock surrounding the site. The City of Darebin’s roofscape was abstracted into a three-dimensional façade pattern. Within this façade, windows filter coloured light into the double-height concourse space. These colours are drawn from the neighbouring Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre and reduce the need for artificial light in the concourse. Bell Station’s development includes the design of a public amphitheatre doubling as a flood basin. The dual-purpose space, adjacent to the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, allows the existing community asset to extend into the station development. Preston Station’s design reflects the influence of the neighbouring Preston Market. The façade was designed as an array of black vertical folds, resembling a barcode used by market vendors. These folds were filled with vivid colours drawn from the produce at Preston Market to extend the vibrancy of the market into the station. This extends into the station’s interior; the cladding continues into the concourse and the windows filter coloured light into this space.

Natural Connection: OLM Nature Escape Eco Aparthotel by Andreas Gruber Architects

World Architecture Festival 2024 - OLM Nature Escape Eco Aparthotel by Andreas Gruber Architects

WAF Completed Buildings: Hotel & Leisure

OLM Nature Escape is a 4-star superior Eco Aparthotel in South Tyrol, Italy, designed by Andreas Gruber Architects. Inspired by the cyclical nature of life, its circular design and use of sustainable materials symbolise continuity and harmony with the environment. This unique resort is the first completely autonomous tourist destination in the Alps, featuring photovoltaic panels, geothermal and hydroelectric power, and an artesian well for CO2-neutral operation.

National Star Observatory by Kyriakos Tsolakis Architects

World Architecture Festival 2024 - National Star Observatory by Kyriakos Tsolakis Architects

WAF Completed Buildings: Civic & Community

Built in the mountains of Cyprus, this project is the first purpose-built observatory in the country. Designed to blend seamlessly into nature, its external surface aims to bring focus to the purpose of the building, which is to look out to the stars. To that effect, it almost blends seamlessly with the surrounding skies. Internally, the architects opted for a palette of natural materials such as timber, stone, and granite.

Sanctuary Pet Crematorium by Formwerkz Architects

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Sanctuary Pet Crematorium by Formwerkz Architects

WAF Completed Buildings: Civic & Community

Utilizing the spacious site and current buildings, a multi-level procession starts at the entrance hall. The building has been designed with the mourners in mind so that they walk through a peaceful linear garden that leads to the Service Hall. A formal structural symmetry along this path highlights the gravity of the ceremony, preparing individuals for the ultimate farewell.

Seddülbahir Fortress by KOOP Architects / AOMTD (Arzu Ozsavasci Architecture)

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Seddülbahir Fortress by KOOP Architects / AOMTD (Arzu Ozsavasci Architecture)

WAF Completed Buildings: Culture

The Seddülbahir Fortress is located at the southern entrance to the Dardanelles on the European shore of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Initially built in the mid-17th century by Hatice Turhan Sultan, the mother of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet IV, Seddülbahir, or “the Wall of the Sea,” protected the strategic waterway that connected the Aegean Sea to Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire’s capital.

A guiding concept in the restoration process at the Seddülbahir Fortress was to preserve the memory of the destruction of WWI and create a space to reflect on peace. Several elements of the fortress, such as the West and South Towers, are preserved as ruins and serve as “lieux de mémoire” of the toll that war has on buildings and their landscapes. The Main Gate of Seddülbahir Fortress and other demolished sections of the fortress, such as the Domed Building, with their silhouettes of light timber, suggest but do not declare what these sections of the fortress may have looked like originally. The slatted wood frame of the Main Gate allows sunlight and air, essential elements of life, to permeate the entrance to the fortress. Contemporary wood elements in the fortress are used sparingly, echoing the construction techniques used by the Ottomans.


World Architecture Festival 2024 - Shanghai Blue Bay Kindergarten by EAST CHINA ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN & RESEARCH INSTITUTE CO., LTD | STUDIO DINGSHUN

WAF Completed Buildings: School

By embracing a layered, orderly, and diverse village-like layout, the design addresses sunlight and functional challenges in high-density urban areas. The volume units staggeringly advance and retreat, forming a staggered urban interface and a multi-directional transparent space view corridor. The courtyard is integrated and symbiotic with the architecture. This layout maximises natural light, greenery, and breezes, providing children with abundant opportunities to connect with nature, interact with peers, and explore endless possibilities. This design provides diverse visual experiences in upper and lower spaces. The kindergarten includes six themed courtyards, offering dispersed and varied activity areas for a large number of children. These courtyards facilitate various outdoor teaching activities. Large, centralised courtyards on the north and south sides are designated for public activities. Extensive ground greening enhances the microclimate and strengthens ecological functions.

Shenzhen Women & Children’s Center by MVRDV

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Shenzhen Women & Children's Center by MVRDV

WAF Completed Buildings: Retrofit

The Shenzhen Women & Children’s Center transforms an old mixed-use tower into a vibrant and colourful skyscraper hosting a hotel and a wide range of facilities for the welfare of women and children: a library, an auditorium, a children’s theatre and “discovery hall”, as well as therapy rooms and offices for staff. MVRDV designed a comprehensive transformation that would allow the building’s structure to be reused – a far more sustainable approach than demolishing and rebuilding. The most visible element of this transformation is the new façade: a grid of multi-coloured exterior frames increases the depth of the façade to a full metre. These frames provide extra shading to reduce thermal heat gain and incorporate openable panels on the inside that allow for natural ventilation – thus increasing occupants’ comfort and reducing the building’s reliance on air conditioning.

Architectural Design Of Liangzi Island Off-island Pier, Rational and Emotional by UAO Design

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Architectural Design Of Liangzi Island Off-island Pier, Rational and Emotional by UAO Design

WAF Completed Buildings: Transport

The island’s new visitor centre, designed to symbolise “going home,” features a central raised structure flanked by waiting greenhouses. Its most striking element is a tent-like canopy with a circular glass skylight that introduces natural light to the entrances. The design includes 3-meter oblique columns and silver-grey roofing, custom-sized to fit the modular design.

Atlantis The Royal by Kohn Pedersen Fox

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Atlantis The Royal by Kohn Pedersen Fox

WAF Completed Buildings: Hotel and Leisure

Atlantis The Royal rethinks the conventional iconic sculptural tower (typical of Dubai), focusing instead on indoor-outdoor living in a vertical city. This results in a 500-metre-long, 178-metre-tall mega-structure, operating as a screen permeable to people, light, and air. The building takes the form of a stack of individual blocks. Each block offers a bespoke private experience, resulting in a more intimate setting for each visitor, despite the building’s size. The design innovation is the creation of sky courts and terrace spaces between the shifting blocks. These gaps serve as naturally ventilated and shaded outdoor courts.

Kalyon Karapınar 1.350 MWp SPP – Central Control Building by Bilgin Architects

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Kalyon Karapınar 1.350 MWp SPP – Central Control Building by Bilgin Architects

WAF Completed Buildings: Production energy and Logistics

The building is located in Karapınar/Konya, the only region in Turkey with a desert climate. A 20-square-kilometre area in this region, which has become unsuitable for agriculture but holds significant energy potential due to its desert climate, is designated as an energy specialisation area. The facades of the building are designed not only as an architectural element but also as a part of the earth and even the sky. Thanks to the high reflectance levels of the facades, the building becomes integrated with the geography it inhabits. The silhouette on the horizon continues on the facades. While ensuring meticulous energy usage, the facade design also serves as a significant part of the building’s identity. The facade, consisting of two layers, is designed to minimise the radiation falling on the main facade. This secondary facade, which prevents high heat exposures for most of the year, is formed by 7,200 stainless steel panels at four different transparency levels.

Lighthouse by 3XN

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Lighthouse by 3XN

WAF Completed Buildings: Housing

Lighthouse is a residential-led, mixed-use development situated at the tip of Aarhus Ø. Openness, safety, and diversity characterise the development, which combines a high-rise structure with a group of mid-rise buildings designed to foster community and interaction. The challenge for the design team was to create an elegant structure that would perpetuate Aarhus’ tradition of progressive architecture while also providing an outstanding user experience. Detailed geometry studies were undertaken to create a tower with an elegant, slim profile when viewed from both the city and the water. The resulting design creates a slender silhouette and gives the appearance of having neither front nor back, addressing the view from all angles. Inspired by patterns and reflections of water, the unique façade adds visual interest and texture. Furthermore, it helps unify the numerous buildings within the development with a common architectural language and materiality.

6×18 Slender House by Spaces Architects@KA

World Architecture Festival 2024 - 6×18 Slender House by Spaces Architects@KA

WAF Completed Buildings: House & Villa (Urban/Suburban)

Slender House is a private residential project designed for a family of five, nestled within a small and slender site measuring 6 meters by 18 meters. The core concept driving Slender House was to punctuate the house with staggered cut-outs and strategically placed skylights. Despite the modest footprint, these design elements breathe life into the home, infusing it with light, air, and a sense of openness. The architects embraced the idea of sacrificing total floor area to create a space that resonated deeply with the client’s lifestyle.

Sponge Synergy: The Huaiyang Fuxi Cultural Park by Turenscape

World Architecture Festival 2024 - The Huaiyang Fuxi Cultural Park by Turenscape

WAF Landscape

The Huaiyang Fuxi Cultural Park project harnesses the natural topology of the area to engineer a water-resilient landscape. Utilising the concept of a sponge city, the project aims to alleviate flooding risks in the ancient city and purify contaminated waters. Crater-shaped islands emerge as multifunctional spaces, serving the community’s diverse needs while drawing inspiration from ancient Chinese cosmological symbols and the Eight Trigrams. These elements form a unique pattern language throughout the park, blending ecological sustainability with rich cultural narratives and social engagement.

Sunita Shekhawat Flagship Store and Gallery by Studio Lotus

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Sunita Shekhawat Flagship Store and Gallery by Studio Lotus

WAF Completed Buildings: Shopping

The art of Meenakari, or enamel work, is an age-old technique renowned for its vibrant and intricate designs on metal surfaces. This 16th-century art is the foundation for the work of well-known Indian jewellery designer Sunita Shekhawat. Her eponymous brand lends a fresh spin to the age-old tradition with timeless yet contemporary jewellery. The design for the brand’s Flagship Store and Museum of Meenakari in Jaipur pays homage to this approach, a nod to the region’s vibrant cultural heritage amidst a fast-evolving cosmopolitan landscape.


World Architecture Festival 2024 - TAWA Refugio by CONTEXTO

WAF Completed Buildings: Hotel and Leisure

At the intersection of the Puelo River and Tagua Tagua Lake lies TAWA, a hotel for travellers seeking to enter a valley of steep mountains and ancient trees. The territory inspires its shape and site: a shelter that takes the shape of an A-frame house, opening the views to the highest hills in search of light and closing the lateral roof slopes to protect itself from the cold and rainy winds that enter through the valley and from the lake. In an effort to conserve resources, reduce waste and emissions and enhance local knowledge, all the volumes were built in wood, combining traditional construction techniques and mechanised assemblies, raw and laminated timber, exposed structures and cladding. An epic work conceived in times of pandemic and executed by 4 skilled carpenters. A more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable alternative.

Texoversum by allmannwappner, Menges Scheffler Architekten, Jan Knippers Ingenieure

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Texoversum by allmannwappner, Menges Scheffler Architekten, Jan Knippers Ingenieure

WAF Completed Buildings: Higher Education and Research

The Texoversum, a centre for cross-cutting textile technologies, was created as part of the Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences’ campus expansion plan. Textile construction is the theme of the design both in function, with a weaving of different disciplines and activities on the interior, and in form, with the representational woven exterior that makes the building so distinct. The first building of its kind with a façade of woven carbon and glass fibre tiles, the building stands as a symbol of the future potential of innovative fibre-based materials and textile techniques.

The Chodge by DCA Architects of Transformation

World Architecture Festival 2024 - The Chodge by DCA Architects of Transformation

WAF Completed Buildings: House and Villa – (Rural/Coastal)

The Chodge is a family vacation home located at Waipamu Station in South Waikato, New Zealand. The station is on the banks of Lake Whakamaru with 360 views over the unique landscape. The design is an exploration of the interstitial space between inside and outside, how you live when on holiday, the relationship with landscape and the connection to a rural vernacular. The outer structure cladding is weathertight and light-emitting. A translucent skin on the interior of the outer structure contributes to the control of heat gain and heat loss. Inside this outer shell is an extruded wooden container for living functions, designed to Passive Haus principles, super-insulated, airtight with heat/cool recovery heating system.

Woven Passage to Cloudy Peaks by line+ studio

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Woven Passage to Cloudy Peaks by line+ studio

WAF Completed Buildings: Transport

Situated amidst the natural mountainous landscape of the Xiayanbei Scenic Area in Southeastern China, the passageway serves as both an entry point to the scenic area and a pivotal element in landscape restoration. Its inception stems from the necessity to seamlessly integrate the surrounding environment with human interaction, catering to the needs of visitors while preserving the ecological integrity of the site. The selection of its location, situated on a small hill at the village bend, the passage bridges a split in the hill caused by earlier road construction, addressing potential landslide risks while serving as foundational infrastructure to restore ecological integrity.

Xiangyang National Sports Center Project by Central-south Architectural Design Institute

World Architecture Festival 2024 - Xiangyang National Sports Center Project by Central-south Architectural Design Institute

WAF Completed Buildings: Sport

Located in Xiangyang City, Hubei Province, this project has a total cover area of about 138800 square meters and consists of three parts: a stadium, a national fitness centre, and sports-supporting buildings. The construction area of the stadium is about 40.000 square meters, with 30.000 seats. The design emphasises natural ventilation and lighting, using light guide tube technology to introduce natural light into the stadium, improving the problem of insufficient lighting in the venue and reducing artificial lighting. The roof of the sports supporting part adopts a planting roof, which is insulated and helps with rainwater collection and recycling. The indoor fitness centre intelligently links carbon dioxide monitoring with fresh air to pay attention to the physical and mental health of users.

World Architecture Festival and Inside World Festival of Interiors will take place at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, on 6 – 8 November 2024. |

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