Architectures on the Waterfont

A dive into the Archivo of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award that tackles the regeneration of European cities through their waterfronts.

Arquitecturas en la orilla

The Fundació Mies van der Rohe in collaboration with Arquitectes per l’Arquitectura (AxA) inaugurate today the exhibition Architectures on the waterfront” at the Maritime Museum of Barcelona. The exhibition is dedicated to waterfronts and those architectures located in urban areas next to water, spaces that over the last thirty years have undergone important urban regeneration processes arising from the relocation of traditional activities such as ports and industry, redesigning in many cases the form and functions of the city on the waterfront.

The exhibition has been curated by Francesc Muñoz, PhD in Urban Geography and Director of the Observatory of Urbanization (UAB) who has contributed with his critical re-reading of the Archive of the Prize, as he also did with the Atlas of European Contemporary Architecture (2016) and his research on the transformation of waterfronts and the effect of urbanalization, a term coined by him; and Ivan Blasi and Anna Sala Giralt of the Fundació Mies van der Rohe.

The exhibition emanates from 68 works belonging to the archive of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award (EU Mies Award) and narrates through images, audiovisuals and models the particular stories of these architectures that construct new areas of relationship with water in cities such as Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid, Lisbon, Oslo, Donostia/San Sebastian or Barcelona.

At present, the archive of the EU Mies Award has a selection of 3,618 works and more than 500 original models. It is a unique compilation that allows us to research, analyse and explain the main phenomena of change in European architecture through different readings, and generate publications such as the ATLAS or exhibitions such as the one presented now at the Maritime Museum, or “Spanish Architectures” which was presented last year in Madrid.

Arquitecturas en la orilla exposición

Among the 68 selected works of “Architectures on the waterfront” there are 4 winners of the EU Mies Award: The French National Library by Dominique Perrault architecte (1996 – Paris), the Kursaal by Rafael Moneo (2001 – Donostia/San Sebastian), the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet by Snohetta (2009 – Oslo) and the Harpa Auditorium and Congress Centre by Henning Larsen Architects, Studio Olafur Eliasson and Batteríid Architects (2013 – Reykjavik).

This selection bears witness to how the transformation of waterfronts has been fundamental both in large metropolises and in small urban centres. Beyond this selection of exhibited works, all the works that build up the archive can be critically read both online, the ATLAS and the App. On the occasion of this exhibition, the “Architectures on the waterfront” section has been created in the App as a way to stimulate the visit to these works.

According to the curators:

“This exhibition is an opportunity to get to know a selection of architectures from the archive of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, which are found on the waterfront. Each one develops a unique strategy to meet the challenges of building the city through the transformation of these spaces.”

Ivan Blasi and Anna Sala – Fundació Mies van der Rohe

“These urban spaces on the waterfront, fragments of the city on the boundary, and traditionally occupied by port, productive or industrial activities, have been the subject of urban regeneration. This has changed not only the form and functions of the waterfront, but, actually, the image and the physiognomy of the city itself.”

Francesc Muñoz

The exhibition is complemented by a catalogue that gathers different writings by experts from Barcelona, Paris, Oslo, Reykjavík, Lisbon, Rotterdam, Marseille, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, cities with important transformation developments where several high-quality architectural interventions have managed to reorient urban changes.

All these works are accessible through the Eumiesaward App, available free of charge for IOS and Android, a way to easily find all nominated works and their information.

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