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Winners of the European Copper in Architecture Awards 15 were announced at a presentation ceremony in Brussels on 27th September. With 66 entries – the highest so far – and generally exhibiting a high standard of design, the Awards are a celebration of the very best in contemporary European architecture and recognition of the influence of copper in modern design.

Projects from Spain, Finland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Luxembourg were shortlisted by an international team of architect and editor judges. Entries were assessed from photographs, drawings and descriptions submitted by their architects. Initially, judges independently considered each entry before discussing specific projects that could move forward to the next stage. Selected projects were then openly debated before the final shortlist of seven was drawn up.

This year’s judging panel consisted of four architects – all recipients of previous Copper in Architecture Awards – Einar Jarmund, Patrick Genard, Pia Salin and Keith Williams. Architectural Review Editor Catherine Slessor chaired the panel.

The seven shortlisted projects clearly demonstrate the increasingly influential role of copper and its alloys as inspirational, as well as environmentally sustainable, materials in contemporary architecture.

Overall Winner
Project – Chapel of St Lawrence, Vantaa, Finland
Architect – Avanto Arkkitehdit
Avanto Arkkitehdit designed the Chapel of St Lawrence in Vantaa, Finland, based on the concept of ‘the Path’ – a Christian’s journey from here to eternity. This dedicated cemetery chapel aims to reconcile the emotional needs of mourners with the pragmatic demands of funerals.The building uses similar materials to the old structures in the area and the roof is patinated copper, like the roof of the old church. Many of the ceilings are finished with removable, perforated copper trays. The glazed walls toward the graveyard in the chapels are covered with a patinated copper mesh, which functions as a screen between the outside and the internal spaces of the chapel.The judges found this project a highly compelling and atmospheric study in the handling of space, light and materials. In particular, copper is used to evoke a tranquil sense of the numinous, creating an appropriately solemn, yet nonetheless uplifting, setting for the rituals of death and parting.
Diane Heirend and Philippe Schmit Architects’ thoroughly contemporary intervention at Villa Vauban, the Musee d’Art de la Ville de Luxembourg, was Highly Commended. The new building gives two levels of exhibition spaces behind the villa, rising up from the foundation of the fortress wall below park level. Openings in the frontage create viewing points to help visitors’ spatial orientation and to reveal activities inside the museum to passes-by.
The judges were extremely impressed by this new addition to the existing art museum. Although the new parts are conspicuously of their time, they form a sensitively judged counterpoint both to the original historic building and the surrounding parkland landscape. The new extension is wrapped in delicately perforated panels of brass, and the judges especially admired how this metal skin appears to dissolve when viewed at night, changing from an opaque surface to a sensuously glowing, translucent veil.