Although the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) International Prize isn’t that well known in Italy, for quite some time it’s been shining a spotlight on some of the most interesting new projects around the world. That’s why we’re taking a look at the three shortlisted projects for World’s Best New Building 2021. The award, presented every two years to projects outside of the UK, focuses on architecture that exemplifies “design excellence” and is capable of having “meaningful social impact.” The projects were shortlisted after a rigorous selection process from among sixteen new international projects. The winner of this year’s prize will be announced in early 2022.
Before then, here are the three shortlisted projects: a community hospital in Bangladesh, a cycle and pedestrian bridge in Denmark, and an art gallery in Berlin.
Designed by Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA, Friendship Hospital is a large eighty-bed community hospital that provides healthcare in an area of Bangladesh that’s been badly affected by cyclones over recent years. The structure is built with locally sourced materials – mainly exposed brick – and has a series of intimate courtyards connected by an angular canal that cuts the site neatly in two. The result is architecture that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.
The hospital, built on a very low budget, is designed to resist flooding as well as to collect water in tanks. Water is a precious commodity here, with the high salinity of the groundwater making it unsuitable for most purposes.
Another finalist is David Chipperfield Architects’ James-Simon-Galerie, a Greek-inspired colonnade on Berlin’s renowned Museum Island with visitor facilities, temporary exhibition spaces, and a 300-seat auditorium. The construction details, which we discussed in The Plan 121, are curious and innovative.
This contemporary-looking building sits well with its neoclassical surrounds, providing the UNESCO World Heritage Site with a new public space as well as access to five nearby museums via an underground passageway, including the Pergamon Museum, the Altes Museum, and the renovated Neues Museum, also designed by Chipperfield.
The final project selected by the RIBA is Lille Langebro, designed by WilkinsonEyre and Urban Agency, Copenhagen. This pedestrian and cycle bridge is 525 feet (160 m) long and winds its way through the city’s harbor to connect to the Christianshavn area. At its central point are two rotating sections that open vertically to allow large boats to pass underneath. The opening mechanism is hidden inside the bridge’s pylons, the first time that this highly innovative engineering approach has been used for a swing bridge.