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11 May 2015

Mies Van der Rohe winner "plays a new symbolic role"

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Emerging Spanish practice Barozzi/Veiga has taken this year's Mies van der Rohe award for the Szczecin Philharmonic Concert Hall in Poland. The hall's predecessor was destroyed during WWII and judges describe the new building as taking on a "new symbolic role".

Its ridged glass façade is backlit, creating a glowing beacon in a city, which before the building was constructed was not blessed by much in the way of contemporary cultural facilities. Its zigzagging roof remains sympathetic to its environs.

"The building emerges from its urban context," the architects said of the project. "[At the same time, it is] influenced by the steeply pitched roofs and the verticality of the city's residential buildings and by the monumental nature of the upright ornaments of [Szczecin's] neo-Gothic churches; the heavy volumes of its classicist buildings; the towers that dot its entire skyline and the cranes of its port."

The double-skin façade also provides the building with acoustic benefits and natural ventilation.

A lack of ornamentation on the façade and interior circulation spaces contrasts with the highly decorated main auditorium. Its three-dimensional ceiling design based on the Fibonacci sequence and gold-leaf covering conforms to the Central European tradition for classical concert halls.

Previous winners of the award – one of Europe's most highly regarded – include the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Iceland; the Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany by David Chipperfield Architects + Julian Harrap; and SNØHETTA's Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in Oslo, Norway.

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