This year’s winners of the Zumtobel Group Award were celebrated at a special event held on Thursday evening at the Festspielhaus Bregenz. The two transparent trophies, which are awarded for visionary projects promoting greater sustainability and humanity in the built environment, were presented this time to the architectural practice TRIPTYQUE in São Paulo and the non-profit design group Terreform ONE + Terrefuge in New York City. The laureates – in both cases young teams who are yet to establish themselves – felt privileged to receive the award. Mitchell Joachim, co-founder of Terreform ONE in New York, was particularly delighted: “It has been a long and hard journey to win recognition for our projects. That is why this award marks a major turning point for us,” he said.
In his opening address to some 200 invited guests from around the world, Zumtobel Group CEO Harald Sommerer explained the aim of the award: “Offering an award of this kind is a logical consequence of our close involvement with the topics of energy efficiency and sustainability in our core business. Through innovative light sources and control systems we contribute towards greater energy efficiency in professional lighting. With the Zumtobel Group Award, however, we are consciously taking a significant step beyond our business by considering very fundamental questions concerning sustainability and social issues in the areas of architecture and urban planning.”

The award, which the Zumtobel Group launched in 2006 and has now been presented for the second time since 2007, is organised in conjunction with Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin, as curators. “The Zumtobel Group Award is a wonderful tool for making us all more aware of the urgent challenges facing our built environment,” said Kristin Feireiss, Director of Aedes and curator of the award.
The 2010 Award in the category “Built Environment” – which carries a purse of EUR 80,000 – went to the Franco-Brazilian architecture practice TRIPTYQUE, represented in Bregenz by Carolina Bueno, Gregory Bousquet and Olivier Raffaelli, for the project “Harmonia 57” in São Paulo. In his laudation, Lukas Feireiss explained the special features of the project – an architecturally and ecologically pioneering gallery building in São Paulo with an intelligent, green façade: “As its name already indicates, Harmonia 57 is a harmonic hybrid formed from a combination of simultaneously sounded notes, an arrangement of parallel narratives that present a single continuum. The project combines opposites: it is playful and precise, interior and exterior, functional and poetic, sustainable and progressive.”

In the category “Research & Initiative”, the award – with a purse of EUR 60,000 – went to the New York design collective Terreform ONE + Terrefuge, represented by its two founders Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim. Their research work deals with a visionary model and master plan for a fully autonomous city. Jury member Colin Fournier outlined in his laudation why the jury had chosen this project: “This project reminds us that it is a vital part of our urban culture to make up fictions about its possible futures. It is the only way it can anticipate danger and ensure its long-term survival. Writers, poets, artists and film-makers have explored utopias and dystopias for centuries. It is great that an urban project takes on this challenge with such exuberance, flair and humour.”

On the afternoon of the award ceremony, the Festspielhaus Bregenz provided the venue for a high-profile panel discussion on the subject of “Sustainability and Aesthetics – Challenges for the Architecture of the Future”. On the podium, Dagmar Richter, Chair of Cornell University’s Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Brian Cody, Professor at TU Graz, Hubert Klumpner from ETH Zurich and Stéphanie Lavaux, co-founder of the architectural practice R&Sie(n), Paris, presented their strategies and solutions for sustainable architectural and urban development. Journalist and curator Lilli Hollein, Vienna, moderated the discussion.