A festival in flow: Designing a more sustainable future

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As some of the world’s leading architecture firms join forces to declare a state of climate emergency, the entire industry prepares to gather for the 12th edition of World Architecture Festival (WAF) to crown the best architectural creations out there and discuss how the industry can play a major role in building a more sustainable future.

TEXT: LINNEA DUNNE | MAIN PHOTO © WAF

With a shortlist of 534 impressive projects, narrowed down from more than 1,000 entries, the World Architecture Festival is the world’s largest annual, international, live architecture event. It boasts not just the industry’s biggest international awards programme in the world, but also a buzzing exhibition area, an inspiring conference programme, plenty of networking opportunities, and much more. This is where the global architecture community gathers to learn, exchange and be inspired – and more than 500 live presentations will take place.

For the second time in its 12-year history, WAF descends on Amsterdam from 4 to 6 December this year. While sustainability will be at the very heart of many of the presentations and discussions, the theme of the conference programme is ‘flow’ – meaning that speakers and contributors will be reflecting on everything from the flow of people and traffic through cities and buildings, to flows of energy and political power in trade and national policy.


Left to right: Helsinki Central Library Oodi. Photo © ALA Architects | Dortheavej Residence. Photo © BIG

Nordic contributions

As part of an outstanding line-up of speakers, Kai-Uwe Bergmann of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Kasper Guldager Jensen of 3XN / GXN will represent Denmark and Scandinavia on the WAF stage. But Scandinavia is present in more ways than one at the festival, including with a range of shortlisted projects. BIG is shortlisted with Dortheavej Residence, a modular housing complex taking on the housing crisis in Copenhagen, as is ALA Architects’ Helsinki Central Library Oodi, a near zero-energy building where traditional library functions meet modern technology. All in all, 21 designs by Scandinavian firms have been shortlisted across the different categories, including the renowned Swedish agency White Arkitekter, as well as Henning Larsen, Wingårdhs, Belatchew Arkitekter, Arkitema Architects and EFFEKT Architects.

“We have been inspired by the levels of innovation in this year’s entries, that show the incredible range of ways in which architects are responding to the global climate and biodiversity emergencies we face,” says Paul Finch, WAF programme director. “WAF has attracted more than 1,000 entries, for the second year in a row, from 70 countries, and we look forward to more than 500 live presentations at the festival in Amsterdam, showcasing these exemplar projects from around the world.”


Left to right: Kiruna City Hall. Photo © Henning Larsen | Nordbro. Photo © Arkitema Architects

World Architecture Festival in numbers

Three days
534 shortlisted projects
100+ international juries
2,000+ attendees
1,000+ entries
70 countries represented
48+ speakers

INSIDE World Festival of Interiors

Alongside the main festival, the organiser EMAP, publisher of The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal, is also running INSIDE World Festival of Interiors, an interior design festival with its own awards and conference programme.

Web: www.worldarchitecturefestival.com and www.insidefestival.com

Instagram: @worldarchfest and @insideworldfest

Hashtags: #WAF19 and #INSIDE19

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