Urban Design Award

Young Visionary Architecture Competition 2023 - Winners


Jennifer Wei Zhang – Chee Kin Tan | Austria – Malaysia

Project Title: The Beirut Lines
Project Typology: Mixed-Use Port Regeneration

Project Description

On August 4, 2020, at 18:08:18 EEST, Beirut experienced a catastrophic non-nuclear blast equivalent to a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, triggered by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in warehouse-12 at the port. Beyond the extensive devastation, the explosion claimed at least 204 lives (with 3 still missing) and left 6,500 injured. Beirut, historically a crucial Middle Eastern hub born from its harbour, has been left with a desolate port. 

In response, this competition invited students from all over the world to reimagine the future of Beirut’s port, set to be reconstructed and revitalised under F.D.B.O.T (Finance, Design, Build, Operate, and Transfer). Participants were challenged to not only think of the new port as a piece of architecture or an urban master plan, but to optimise the site’s potential for economic growth, commerce, and the restoration of storage areas and vital port functions. The objective was to reinstate the port’s competitive edge within the global context, facilitating deeper engagement in international trade. 

Moreover, after years of being isolated from the city, the goal was to rethink the port as an integrated part of Beirut, fostering social and economic prospects. The design should attract both local citizens and international tourists, while also appealing to potential investors; thus, crafting a diverse, forward-looking port that aligns with public needs, spanning culture, leisure, commerce, and more. A critical aspect of the current competition was to invite the public to a commemorative space to honour the people who lost their lives, their loved ones, and their homes in the devastating explosion.

1st runner up

Charalampos Neokleous – Ioanna Nithavrianaki | Cyprus – Greece

Project Title: The “Fluid City”
Project Typology: Urban waterfront revitalization

Project Description

In the modern context, the once interdependent -both symbolically and functionally- port-city relationship no longer exists. Heraklion, Greece, as a typical Mediterranean port-city, is characterized by all the pathologies resulting from the separation of city and port, with the port front distinguished by spatial discontinuities, degraded and abandoned spaces and different structural scales. 

     This project deals with the urban activation of the waterfront of Heraklion through a single set of interventions. Aiming to overcome the "abandoned threshold", the proposal focuses on the "port-city interfaces", where through the redevelopment of public space, green spaces and the design of reference spaces and buildings, the creation of a new urban centrality is attempted. Interpreting the area as an "urban void", the intention is to appropriate the accessibility near the water and to render the city's waterfront as an active public space to become an important point of reference, meeting and coexistence. The above is reinforced by the creation of both linear systems of coastal integrations as well as transverse projections, creating multiple spaces for social reconciliation and activating new dynamics associated with the horizon of the sea front. Therefore, the creation of frontages and the mixing of urban and port uses compose the new urban landscape -the "fluid city"- and direct the flows through a unified system of open spaces.  

     The key tool of the strategy was the creation of four interface zones where each one functions as an autonomous system with different uses and characteristics but all together fall under a one big system capable of transforming the city's relationship with the element of water. 

     Starting from the historic port at the first interface zone -an important landmark for the city-, the central intention is to redesign and upgrade the port as an open public space, both by decongesting the place and highlighting the cultural character of the wider area. 

     The second interface zone concerns the space between the old city and the new port, an urban threshold capable of reconnecting the city with the sea. Focusing on the port-city "interface", the aim is to activate the waterfront as a new urban centrality, stimulating the area with a landmark, the new House of Culture and Arts, and transforming the area into a public space for social interaction.  

     The third interface concerns the transition zone from the old to the new port and by extension from the urban to the porous port. Interpreting the area as an "urban void" awaiting content, the intention is to feed urban and port uses, activating relations and ultimately shaping the city's new waterfront. 

     In the fourth interface, the difficulty of city expanding outside the historical walls contributed to the creation of urban voids and accessibility barriers. The intervention seeks to restore the public space, acting as an articulation and guiding force, with the urban uses such as housing, offices, services and commerce strengthening the area and creating a “city effect”.

2nd runner up

Marilena Zachariou – Ifigenia Tymviou – Irene Gregoriou | Cyprus

Project Title: Porous Ground
Project Typology: Reviving Kessariani, Athens’ Social Character

Project Description
  1. In Kaisariani and more generally in Athenian society, major social issues are observed, such as alienation, fragmentation of public space, and high rents in relation to low-income and unemployed residents. The Refugee Settlement of Kaisariani from 1931 is spatially characterized by its building blocks and, specifically, the internal courtyards that are interconnected sequentially through narrow alleys. The collective life and social activities that characterized these courtyards have diminished over time. Therefore, we decide to adopt architectural practices with the aim of restoring and highlighting this quality, as well as preserving and emphasizing their continuity.

    The concept of "Porous ground" concerns the relationship of our proposal with the space and the area and refers to Social and Natural Porosity. Specifically, Social Porosity is related to the social character of the proposal and the ability of individuals to interact with each other in the same environment. Similarly, Natural Porosity is associated with the actual resources of the surface of the ground. In this proposal, the ground acquires various degrees of porosity, with a common design character that encourages different activities accordingly.

    Our proposal, takes place at the ground level and more specifically in spatial entities that have so far been unexploited and show prospects for revitalization. It extends to the internal courtyards of the building blocks, the pilotis, the road, and the narrow alleys. The aim of this movement is the utilization and unification of the Public Space, through the integration of activities in the abovementioned spaces. The proposed program promotes the existing socially-oriented activities of KEDIK (Non-profit public enterprise of Kaissariani) , while also integrating new, entertaining activities. Simultaneously, it introduces an economically accessible housing characterized by its collective and social nature. The architectural design in all parts of the proposal is minimally invasive and reversible.

    The urban placement of the proposal in these specific building blocks was aimed at uniting the Central Square of Kaisariani with the University Campus, creating an interactive route based on the existing one, while operating as a pilot project that could be adopted in neighboring building blocks with similar spatial qualities. By combining the above practices, "Porous Ground" serves as an example of urban design that could be adopted in various areas of Athens as well as in modern cities facing similar issues of alienation from public space.