Honourable Mention




Entitled Balloon Caught, this ingenious urban installation by Tokyo-based architects Satoshi Matsuoka and Yuki Tamura was the outcome of an initiative to re-think and re-animate public space in Vancouver. Participants were asked to explore the spatial and urban potential of an alleyway in Gastown, the city's oldest district, through an intervention that would allow different forms of occupation through the day. Proposals were also intended as a generator of activity, attracting the public and offering new readings of the city.

From such a solemn programme comes a delightfully whimsical riposte. Translucent, glowing orbs 5m to 9m in diameter are wedged between the buildings in the alley, like runaway balloons or delicate paper lampshades. Festive and seductive, the superscale spheres heighten the spatial experience of the narrow alley. The installation is also efficient, designed to be installed and dismantled in under a day. Lit from within, the inflatable nylon orbs change character from day to night, as the city centre site was constantly accessible and inhabited.

Although only in place for three days in the summer, the urban balloons created a buzz in downtown Vancouver. The opening night party drew a crowd of 700 and subsequent events attracted a mix of designers, artists, planners, tourists, families and flâneurs. Light in touch and spirit, these charming inflatables also gained an honourable mention from the Jury. C. S.

Satoshi Matsuoka & Yuki Tamura, Tokyo

The challenges of large-scale public housing still tend to confound most architects, so it was encouraging to see this assured example from young Swiss practice Pool Architekten. Compared with most of the projects shown here it represents a sizeable commission (for over 100 apartments), and demonstrates the skills of designing and building on a large scale. Jurors were impressed by the scheme's confident execution, if perhaps not so entranced by its quintessentially Swiss rigour.

Commissioned for a local housing cooperative, the development lies on the edge of Zurich, where the suburbs thin and give way to rolling countryside. The site slopes eastwards down from Leimbachstrasse to the river Sihl and forest beyond. To exploit light and views, the two blocks are placed along the west and north edges of the site defining a large communal garden. Clad in a reptilian skin of greenish grey slate and partly dug into the slope, the blocks have a topographic quality that abstracts the roll and heave of the surrounding hills. Each block consists of three sub-units which are kinked slightly in plan like a derailed train. Angular roof profiles also break up any potential monotony, as do the generous balconies set at regular intervals into slate-clad facades.

Deft internal planning juggles and organises a range of apartment types. Each sub-block contains three to four flats per

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