World Architecture Festival 2014: Vietnamese firm wins best building award

By Jake Wallis Simons, for CNNUpdated 6th October 2014
The finest buildings in the world have been named at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore.
At a glittering ceremony, Building of the Year was awarded to The Chapel in Vietnam, designed by a21studio. Future Project of the Year was won by 5468796 Architecture + Number TEN Architectural Group, for Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada.
The three-day Festival, now in its seventh year, saw hundreds of firms from more than 50 countries competing in 27 different categories, from Small Projects to Culture and Experimental.
A total of 2,000 architects, designers, clients and press converged on the spectacular Marina Bay Sands Hotel, where in addition to awards ceremonies there were numerous lectures and conferences.
Asian architects on the rise
Victory for a21studio in the Building of the Year award was symbolic of an upsurge in competition entries from Asia, which had a significant impact on this year's awards. Submissions from China, Malaysia and Vietnam increased by up to 140%. They competed alongside more well-established firms like Aedas, Zaha Hadid Architects and Foster & Partners.
Asian firms quickly made their mark in the first two days, with Vietnam firmly in the lead; Vo Trong Nghia Architects, another Vietnamese firm, won three awards, including those for Future Projects Education and Hotel and Leisure.
Other winners
Landscape of the Year went to the National Arboretum Canberra, Australia, designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, and Small Project of the Year was awarded to The Pinch community library in China, designed by John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere.
Two new awards were added to this year's program.
The Exterior Color Prize, which recognized the creative use of color, was awarded to Cook Robotham Architectural Burea for the Departments of Law and Central Administration, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. The Wood Excellence Prize for the most exceptional timber project went to DSDHA for the Alex Monroe Studio in Snowfields, UK.
Highlights of day one included the Culture category, which was won by Gustavo Penna Arquiteto & Associates for the Freedom of the Press Monument in Paranoá, Brazil, which resembles a huge, translucent triangle, lit from within and embedded in the earth.
SGi Architects won the Religion category for La Ascension del Senor church in Seville, Spain, an angular, stone-and-steel structure containing three large "voids".
On day two, the New And Old category was won by Rethinking the Split House, designed by the Chinese architecture studio Neri&Hu Design and Research Office. Judges were impressed by the bold vision, which involved replacing the rear wall of a three-storey 1930s townhouse in with plate glass.
Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners and Arup Associates won the Future Projects Experimental category with Skyfarm, an eye-catching concept design proposal for a vertical farm that enables the cultivation of crops in high-density areas.
A full list of the winners can be found at the World Architecture Festival website.