View from the inside: an on ground account of the World Architecture Festival 2022

Hosted in Lisbon, Portugal, the three-day event brought together some of the biggest names in architecture under one roof, celebrating the best of architecture.

by Afra SafaPublished on : Dec 23, 2022

Established in 2008, the World Architecture Festival (WAF) hosted in a different city each year for over a decade, has managed to gather the international architecture community together. This year it was hosted in Lisbon in Portugal. Each event welcomes architects, designers, and companies to showcase their achievements, learn from their peers and discover new products and services. It is also a chance to engage with ideas and concepts from around the world through crucial talks and panel discussions. These are anchored by significant figures from the industry, alongside live critique sessions for the awards. As a media partner to the World Architecture Festival 2022 (November 29 to December 1,2022), STIR was present throughout the three-day event to cover the highlights of the festival.

At its core, WAF is an event that celebrates the best architecture from around the world. The WAF Award is split into 45 different categories across Completed Buildings, Future Projects, Landscapes, and Interiors. The shortlisted projects present their work live to critics during the three-day event. Some of the award titles include—World Building of the Year, Future Project of the Year, Landscape of the Year, and World Interior of the Year.

Engaging discussions at the Festival Hall Stage | World Architecture Festival | Lisbon | STIRworld
View of the Festival Hall Stage at the World Architecture Festival Image: Gabriele Di Stefano, Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

The event itself is divided into three sections that happen simultaneously: the exposition, the award, and the talks. On entering the venue, one encounters different suppliers and industry players that have set up booths to showcase their latest products, services, and achievements. The brands were from many categories and industries related to buildings and architecture design. From lighting design to 3D printing technology, the exhibition gallery featured some of the latest and most interesting products related to infrastructure and construction.

Peter Cook at the World Architecture Festival 2022 | World Architecture Festival | Lisbon | STIRworld
Sir Peter Cook at the World Architecture Festival 2022 Image: Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Among the interesting booths at the main exposition were the Architecture Photography Awards, and the exhibition presented by the Le Corbusier Foundation. The Architecture Photography Award was an event within the event, showcasing several photographs in different categories; the attendees of the festival could vote for one photograph from each category and the winner was chosen based on these votes. The winner of this year’s festival for Architecture Photography Award Delegate Choice was Deed Studio from Iran with a photograph of Jadgal Primary School in Seyyed Bar, Iran; a project by Daaz Architectural Office and the Architectural Photography Awards Judges Winner was GuoZhe for a photo taken from Pocket Park in Shanghai, China, designed by Atelier Archmixing.

The Le Corbusier Foundation presented an extensive project consisting of models of the iconic architect's buildings. These were showcased at the centre of the venue. The talks and panels took place simultaneously throughout the duration of the festival. Several industry figures and thinkers were presenting their practices, achievements, projects, and points of view in two separate spaces that were laid out for the talks. Most of the panels were handled by Paul Finch, the Programme Director of the World Architecture Festival. Some of the other notable speakers include Reinier de Graaf (partner, OMA), Mario Cucinella (founder, MCA), Nigel Coates, Diogo Burnay and Cristina Verissimo (founders, CVDB Arquitectos and co-curators of the Lisbon Triennale) and Sir Peter Cook to name a few.

Installation by the Le Corbusier Foundation | World Architecture Festival | Lisbon | STIRworld
Installation by the Le Corbusier Foundation Image: Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Perhaps the most noteworthy figure, whose talk garnered a fair amount of attention on the second day of the festival, was Farrokh Derakhshani, Director of the Aga Khan Architecture Award. He presented an overview of the prestigious Aga Khan Foundation and how the award works. He made clear how the process of identifying, introducing, analysing, shortlisting, fact-checking, and choosing the winners takes place and then proceeded to introduce the 2022 winners of the latest Aga Khan Architecture Award. He even elaborated on the reasoning behind the judges’ choices.

During the short panel discussion that took place after Derakhshani’s talk, the case of Argo Contemporary Art Museum and Cultural Centre in Tehran, which was one of the winners of the Aga Khan Award in 2022, was brought up since Derakhshani is also Iranian; a discussion that seemed relevant considering the current uprisings in Iran. In a short discussion afterwards, Derakshani gave STIR the following concise response on how the foundation manages to keep the awards fresh and relevant even after a decade, saying, “By constantly changing the judges and using different views towards architecture.”

Islam El Mashtooly and Moaz Abouzaid (Verform Design Studio,  UAE) during a panel discussion on ‘A Focus on Egypt’ | World Architecture Festival | Lisbon | STIRworld
Islam El Mashtooly and Moaz Abouzaid (Verform Design Studio, UAE) during a panel discussion on ‘A Focus on Egypt’ Image: Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Simultaneously another series of panels took place on a different stage within the exhibition complex. 'A Focus on Egypt', a talk with Moaz Abouzaid and Islam El Mashtooly from UAE-based Verform Design Studio was especially interesting. The discussion was centred around the urban planning of Cairo, and how the studio was working to create contemporary architecture fighting for a civilisation which consists of architecture that predates most of human history.

Around the exhibition venue, several tents were installed where critique sessions were being carried out throughout the first two days of the festival. The teams of the shortlisted projects were scheduled to present their works to a group of judges and in front of an audience. The judges were sharp and ruthless in their questions and critics and the debates created a thrilling atmosphere in all the critic rooms.

Panel discussion with Jason Parker (Director, Make Architects), Nikki Bell and Ben Langlands (artists), and Paul Finch (Programme Director of WAF) | World Architecture Festival | Lisbon | STIRworld
Panel discussion with Jason Parker (Director, Make Architects), Nikki Bell and Ben Langlands (artists), and Paul Finch (Programme Director of WAF) Image: Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

On the last day of the festival, the winners were announced during a ceremony that took place throughout the day. The winners of several awards were announced. Tehran-based CAATstudio won the Future Project of the Year with their project Dream Pathway. The Landscape of the Year was won by SHANCUN Atelier School of Architecture, Tsinghua University in collaboration with Anshun Institute of Architectural Design for the Preservation and Rehabilitation of Rural Landscape of Gaodang. The WAFX Award Overall Winner was given to BAD and Guallart Architects for The Tower of Life which is a proposal for an ecological tower in Dakar, Senegal. And among many projects, the 3XN architecture firm took home the most important award of the festival—World Building of the Year Winner 2022, which was given to the Quay Quarter Tower project in SydneyAustralia.

A walk-through view of one of the corridors at the event | World Architecture Festival | Lisbon | STIRworld
A walk-through view of one of the corridors at the event Image: Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

The World Architecture Festival 2022 closed with a grand gala dinner on December 2, 2022, a worthy end for a fabulous three-day marathon of unforgettable design and architecture from all across the globe.

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