"Floating forest" high school named WAF World Building of the Year
The 2023 winner of the prestigious World Building of the Year has been announced during the annual World Architecture Festival (WAF), which was held in Singapore last week.
China's Huizhen High School, by Approach Design Studio and Zhejiang University of Technology Engineering Design Group, was given the nod, with the WAF lauding its unusual design, which integrates multiple relaxation areas for students.
Huizhen High School is located in Jiangbei District, Ningbo City. It's fronted by a "floating forest" area made up of raised classrooms that are connected by meandering paths, with greenery and tree houses arranged to provide students with a place for relaxation away from schoolwork. Elsewhere, a ramp leads up to a rooftop terrace area that functions as an open-air lecture hall and a park with sporting facilities, usable by the public at the weekend.
"We loved this building as it is unexpected, and delightful," said Paul Finch, Program Director of the World Architecture Festival. "The architects have managed to create a school which is very different to the usual model where students are boxed in and put under teaching and architectural pressure. By contrast, this design encourages, walking, fresh air and the possibility of reflection away from academic intensity.
"As the architects note, you are at your most relaxed when you are wasting time, but not wasting; instead enjoying walking to classrooms through a 'floating forest' with plug-in buildings and amenities, all with views of nature. Simple materials are deployed for a combination of the innovative and the everyday. There are elements in this project that could be used for schools anywhere."
Landscape of the Year
The Landscape of the Year has been awarded to Turenscape for its project Benjakki Forest Park: Transforming a Brownfield into an Urban Ecological Sanctuary. The firm totally reworked the site of a former tobacco factory in Bangkok, Thailand, into a low-maintenance green park that collects stormwater, filters any contaminated water, and provides a much-needed wildlife habitat in the bustling inner-city area.
Future Project of the Year
The Future Project of the Year celebrates projects that are yet to be completed. This year's winner is the Probiotic Tower in Cairo, by Design and More International, which imagines a sustainable building that produces biofuel for the surrounding area. WAF's judges praised the proposal for "providing relief from the urban density, heat and pollution of the city."
The WAFX Award, which celebrates proposals that aim to tackle global challenges, has been awarded to Rethinking Oil Rigs – Offshore Data Center, by Arup. The project explores how oil rigs could be repurposed as sustainable off-shore data centers as society transitions to a fossil-fuel-free future.