The best architecture projects which are helping to address social, environmental and economic challenges around the world have been revealed.

The World Architecture Festival has unveiled its shortlist of 20 projects for the 2022 edition of the World Architecture Festival WAFX Awards.

The shortlist celebrates international proposals to embrace cutting-edge design approaches to address issues ranging from climate change to cultural connection though to building community resilience.

Take, for example, the iconic Tower of Life project proposal (pictured above) for an iconic tower in Dakar Senegal.

Designed by Spanish Architecture Firm Built by Associative Data, the project symbolizes what it envisions could be a leading role which Africa could play in leading a global design agenda which champions ecology, bio-computation, material engineering, decentralized economies and sustainable development.

The tower is an energy-positive construction which is wrapped with on onsite-printed earth membrane that operates as a living ecosystem.

To provide a landmark which pays homage to its local context, the tower’s skin is constructed of 3D printed locally sourced clay.

The inner cladding system covers the tower and helps to sustain a microclimate both inside and around it that minimises the building’s environmental footprint in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Another example is the Muscowpetung Powwow Arbour cultural venue (pictured below) which was co-designed by Oxbow Architecture in conjunction with an indigenous prairie community.

The centre aims to celebrate community and strengthen cultural traditions.

Located on Treaty 4 Territory in south-east Saskatchewan, the venue aims to strengthen traditions, celebrate culture and encourage Muscowpetung people to pass on knowledge to future generations.

The project integrates a central dance circle, spectator seating, an announcer’s booth for Head Staff, and vendor stalls below the perimeter raked seating under one roof.

The building design was established with community and band leadership consultation, most notably with the community’s indigeneity leader and knowledge keeper, Jeff Cappo.

Several features of the design pay homage to Muscowpetung culture and traditions.

Reinforcing the importance of the circle in indigenous culture, the structural system requires a circular geometry to balance the loads.

The arbor uses local timber and a system of cables that works like the stored energy of a drawn bow-string and the tensioning elements of drum heads.

A lightweight system of spanning components avoids bending moments and allows for onsite assembly by the local community.

Beyond this, several projects aim to marry the physical and digital worlds of the future.

One example is the mega YTL Arena Complex by Grimshaw in Bristol, UK (pictured below).

Designed by UK architecture firm Grimshaw, this will accommodate the UK’s fourth fourth largest arena and comprise the heart of a new neighbourhood for Bristol.

The design retains, repurposes, and celebrates the industrial spirit and heritage of the hangars that were originally built for the construction of the Bristol Type 167 ‘Brabazon’ – the largest and most luxurious civil airliner of its time, – and later Concorde.

All up, the multi-purpose cultural, entertainment and experience complex includes a 17,000-capacity arena, located in the Central Hangar, a Festival Hall tailored to accommodate large conventions and exhibitions in the East Hangar, and in the West Hangar spaces for small, start-up creative enterprises, with leisure facilities, food and drink outlets.

Finally, in Australia, the North-East Link which in Melbourne will complete a missing link in the city’s freeway network has been designed according to three pillars of Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people – the traditional owners of the land on which the project sits.

The three principles are connection to country, caring for country and caring for people. Inherent within them is the principle of touching the earth lightly.

Several aspects of the project’s design pay homage to this.

Infrastructure for nine footbridges was inspired by Wurundjeri bark canoes which were made from single piece of bark which were removed without damaging trees.

The project has also been designed to see the planting of 30,000 new trees, rehabilitation of the Koonung Creek (including by returning it to the surface after it was redirected into underground pipes in the 1970s) which will support rare platypus and the aquatic insects as they eat, wetlands which are sized to process stormwater, lawns replaced with native plants to attract wildlife along with solar harvesting at various sites to help the project generate 25 percent of its own energy requirement.

Award winners for each category will be announced at the World Architecture Festival, which will run from November 30 until December 2 in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

WAF Program director Paul Fince said the innovation which was evident in the shortlisted requirements serve as an inspiration.

“Big challenges require big commitment and fresh thinking,” Fince said.

“These future projects show that architects across the world are responding to complex problems in imaginative ways — with the bonus of some design delight.”


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