At the jury meeting, we deliberated, first, the submissions for FuturArc Prize 2015 (FAP). The competition brief, regenerative design, has been a topic of discussion for some years. But there are precious few projects worldwide that illustrate application, fewer still in Asia*.
What would FAP entries add to this discourse?
The jury picked winners at two ends of a scale. Some were master plans for redevelopment, in effect, describing new networks. Others were small, strategic injections into an existing network, acts of eco-puncture.
The FuturArc Interview this issue is with Rahul Mehrotra who, in his reflections on Asian urbanism, says that both scales are important to the revitalisation of Asian cities. Mehrotra was not on the jury but his views and projects underscore ours on the need for a ripple effect on entire systems.
Jury deliberations on the FuturArc Green Leadership Award 2015 (FGLA) entries veered towards the same question. It should be said that most FGLA entries before us made a case for a better building. They were exceptional in that they sought to mitigate impact of consumption or improve the lot of users within site boundaries.
But should leadership be anything less than an attempt to influence a wider condition, beyond site?
We therefore looked not only at what projects did, but also what they represented. It was important that a project in Singapore was a leader amongst others in Singapore; likewise Hong Kong, likewise Cambodia, etc. Green leadership cannot be divorced from context.
The one category in which we debated ‘meaning’ at length was Socially-inclusive Development.
Sanjay Prakash sums it up nicely, “Western-style sustainability in architecture sits uncomfortably with Asian societies where architecture is an outcome of social activity, as a collaborative and participatory process. In this geography, therefore, ‘Greenness’ is intimately tied to participation and inclusiveness.”
The winner in this category, the Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn, is a moving example of participation and inclusiveness. This is regeneration at its best.
For our readers wondering what this means at the drawing board, Mehrotra has a couple of thoughts from his own work: create soft boundaries that encourage the co-mingling of different groups, create or co-opt public space, dissolving hard edges between building and city. His projects in Hyderabad and Mumbai illuminate this approach.
The first prize winner of FAP, professional category, coincidentally, was a proposal for the redevelopment of an entire island off the coast of Bali, contaminated by years of abuse. As the jury soaked in the landscape before us, we were reminded how bad things really are, just a few kilometres away.
We hope the projects and ideas in this issue inspire you, wherever you are in Asia.
* In the last issue of the magazine, we featured an interview with Chrisna du Plessis, a leading proponent of regenerative design. In this issue we feature an article by du Plessis and Dominique Hes, co-author of the book, Designing for Hope. Readers can view the video accompaniment to this book, entitled The Regenerates, on the FuturArc website.