Glowing façade lights up 2016 LEAF Awards

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The Best Façade Design and Engineering and Overall Winner of the LEAF Awards 2016 is the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour(Credit: LEAF Awards)

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The overall winner of this year's LEAF Awards has been announced as Ian Ritchie Architects for the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the UK's University College London. The building was awarded for its undulating, glowing and multifunctional glass façade.

Founded in 2001, the Leading European Architecture Forum (LEAF) Awards is an annual ceremony for architects, designers, developers and suppliers. It recognizes innovative architectural design and excellence in building from around the world, with a promise that projects of all shapes and sizes will be "judged on a level playing field."

This is reflected by the contrast of the two most recent overall winners, the high-tech and sustainably equipped One Central Park in 2014 and the graceful spiraling simplicity of the Ribbon Chapel last year. The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, which also won its category of Best Façade Design and Engineering, continues this varied vein, with its meticulously researched and designed façade providing the reason for its success.

Among the elements required by the neuroscience research lab were opening windows, interior daylighting, the ability to black-out interior spaces and large white writing surfaces, as well as privacy and security. The building's façade, in which it is wrapped on three sides, provides all of this.

Prefabricated in 11-percent light transmission cast glass sections, the translucent material allows light into the building while providing privacy. It also gives the building a white look during the day, but a soft glow at night. The undulating north-facing expanse of the façade, meanwhile, incorporates 100 triple-glazed mechanical-opening windows, with the envelope as a whole said to have contributed significantly to the building's BREEAM Excellent construction sustainablity standard.

Among the other winners was David Chipperfield Architects for its Xixi Wetland Estate in Hangzhou, China, in the Residential Building – Multiple Occupancy of the Year category (sponsored by Kaldewei). The landscaped development balances architecture with nature, with 20 two-story buildings raised up on concrete plinths and surrounded by water.

The Public Building of the Year category (sponsored by colcom group) went to GPY Arquitectos for its University of La Laguna Faculty of Fine Arts in Tenerife, Spain. The design was aimed at extending the public space of the campus, while still giving a sense that the building was an independent space of its own. It features smooth, sweeping and understated concrete curves, with an uninterrupted loop around which people can walk.

Hanover Page Mill in Palo Alto, US, designed by Form4 Architecture, won the Best Sustainable Development (sponsored by Gira). The building boasts a host of features like passive orientation, sunshades and thermally broken glazing to help achieve both LEED Platinum (a green building standard) and net-zero status.

The Future Building – Drawing Board of the Year category (sponsored by ABB) was won by Gottlieb Paludan Architects for its BIO4 biomass-fuelled power plant in Copenhagen, Denmark. The plant is aimed in part at contributing to Copenhagen's aim of being CO2-neutral by 2025 and will also be a destination for visitors who want to find out more about biomass processes and sustainable energy generation.

Fifteen category winners were recognized in total, with a Lifetime Achievement Award going to Santiago Calatrava. The Spanish architect was honored for his "unique vision and ability to transform cities through impactful design," as well as an ability to craft spaces that are "both visually striking and forward-thinking."

The winners were acknowledged at a ceremony in London on Friday.

Source: LEAF Awards

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