the winners of the W 2023 prize
“A roof for all.” Isn’t that the very foundation of the architectural profession? Its substantial marrow, which constitutes its vocation: to create a shelter, for each and everyone, especially the most fragile among us?
By choosing this theme for its 2023 competition (of which Batiactu has the honor of being a member of the jury), the Wilmotte Foundation has thus pushed students and young architects to their limits, in order to return to the very essence of their profession. Because here, the roofs are part of the “already there”: they are already shelters, but can they become habitats? How to do useful work by providing housing for all, “a shelter to rebuild” for the most precarious, thanks to a contemporary reversible, even reproducible transplant? Acting on abandoned buildings, so many unused wastelands and disused sheds, and making these roofs invitations to place themselves under their protection… the challenge is immense and so many questions must be resolved!
“Modular, adaptable, responsible and universal”while thinking of a constrained economic envelope, architecture must then demonstrate its capacity for innovation and adaptation.
On April 14, during the jury meeting, no less than 57 projects had to be examined. Four projects were awarded, including two tied for third place, while ten projects were mentioned. All will receive their prize on May 18, 2023 in Venice: their projects will be exhibited at the Wilmotte Foundation gallery on the occasion of the Architecture Biennale and published in a dedicated book.
Four winners named
The first prize goes to Vanni Renzini (24) and Silvia Roseto (25), from the Università degli Studi in Florence (Italy). Their “Al Traverso” project (the crossing, editor’s note) takes place under the roof of an agricultural shed in the heart of Tuscany: it proposes to re-establish the link with its immediate environment, between public and private space. The second prize is the project “An industrial heritage for the benefit of social housing“ de Brieuc de Norre (24 years old) from Belgium, in a team with Phan Dang Khoa (26 years old), from Vietnam: located in Aubervillers, a hangar comes back to life in complete transparency, offering modular housing for the most precarious who, far of “fragment space”, proposes on the contrary “to unify the housing for a strong common identity and in response to a fragmented context.” Finally, joint third place is awarded to project “Laneway village, an agricultural community under one roof”of Viet Thai Dand (26 years old), of Vietnamese origin and student at the school of Paris la Villette, who “reconnects the forgotten space to modern life“, by offering private and public spaces around agricultural activity; and to the project “The roof of the district Living with dignity together under the naves of La Rapée” by Théo Bienvenu (26 years old) and Claire Romsée (25 years old) from ENSA Nanteswhich are taking over the former Rapée station in Paris to offer accommodation for various profiles and stays while creating activities that encourage social ties.
Question architecture and recall its essential role
As a jury, we wanted them to combine creativity and audacity, to think about the program and uses in its context, to integrate environmental, social and economic issues… Each of the winners brings a stone to the building here: their proposals are so many answers to exploit and grow, utopias to question.
The W prize always allows us to question architecture, as a discipline, in the face of current challenges. While some are still wondering about the contribution of the architect in our society, while the profession itself feels fragile, while many find it difficult to practice, this year’s subject is a strong reminder of the importance of its role and its essential place in the chain of actors in the living environment. Faced with the climate emergency and all the societal and economic challenges of our time, the architect has the resources, the keys to the concrete and the imaginary, to provide appropriate responses by acting with and for society in his outfit.
Discover the winners of the second and third prizes, on the following pages.