With a pencil in hand and bringing their imagination to the fore, the two young Luxembourgish architects, Panajota Panotopoulou and Daniel Grünkranz created the 'A Lannen' cultural centre in Osweiler. For this outstanding project, they were awarded the Bauhärepräis 2020, a benchmark in the field of architecture. What does this award mean to them? We spoke to them to find out more.
It's modern, brighter and stands out on the landscape... It's fair to say that the 'A Lannen' multi-functional and cultural centre has been a resounding success. Nestled on the hillside of the small village of Osweiler, the building replaces the former multipurpose hall, which was demolished in 2016 to make way for the brand-new premises.
With a surface area of 468m2, the new building can accommodate a maximum of 200 people in its large multi-functional room. An imposing glass facade floods the interior of the building with light and offers a panoramic view of the village. Moreover, the geothermal heating and photovoltaic panels make this facility a modern and energy-efficient building.
Since its official opening in 2017, several associations, clubs and cultural organisations have taken advantage of these facilities. It is not surprising that the mayor of the commune of Rosport/Mompach is enamoured with the new cultural centre which perfectly matches the expectations of the owners, as he pointed out. 'We consulted the clubs in order to find out their needs and passed them on to the architect. I have to admit that the outcome responds exactly to our requirements. We needed a large hall, a foyer and bathroom facilities. We got exactly what we asked for!', revealed Romain Osweiler.
The new multi-purpose hall has a modern and refined look which is mainly due to the fact that the municipal authorities called upon a young and motivated team to deliver the project. 'We wanted a building with that was original in style, which is why we had intense discussions with a young team. We were not disappointed,' underlines the mayor.
In fact, the courage in commissioning a small team of young, proactive and motivated designers (architects and consulting engineers) to carry out the 'A Lannen' project was rewarded with the Bauhärepräis OAI 2020 in the category 'Special Award for Courage of the Main Contractor'.
This new meeting place, which has been integrated into the rural development plan of the municipality, has definitely given the small village of Osweiler a refreshing new look. However, above all, it has added a new string to the bow of the young architectural practice Form Society, which was entrusted with this architectural project.
Discussion with the young architects from Form Society, the architectural practice run by Panajota Panotopoulou and Daniel Grünkranz.
1. What drew you to this project?
It was the opportunity to create a new meeting space for the residents of Osweiler which would be deemed suitable for different groups of users. Essentially, that meant that we had to come to terms with a key component of the architectural process: how can social responsibility be incorporated from a spatial perspective and articulated architecturally? The building enjoys pride of place in the centre of the village and, as such, it is a local landmark. It was important for us to develop a connection between the users and the building as well as between the building and its environment. We wanted to create a project that would make a significant contribution to the quality of life in Osweiler and strengthen the local shared-living experience.
2. What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome during this project?
Our task was to integrate into the design the different factors that had a bearing on the project and then mould them into a piece of modern architecture. The topographical reality of the design proved to be a challenge as the building had to be semi-recessed into the slope. Also, the size of the rooms varied considerably according to their use. For example, in the hall and the foyer, the ceilings are very high which is in sharp contrast to the adjacent rooms. Therefore, we had to find a form for the building which took these factors into account. The design is also environmentally friendly and blends into its natural surroundings in the town centre. The building envelope was designed as an interface between the spatial programme, external factors and the integration of environmental technologies such as the photovoltaic system.
3. What does the Bauhärepräis represent for you, from a personal and professional perspective?
We are very happy to have received the award in the category 'Special Award for Courage of the Main Contractor'. It reflects the trust that clients have placed in FORM SOCIETY. Architecture relies upon the courage of builders who are also willing to make decisions that serve, for example, the common good. At present, we are confronted with major social challenges and serious environmental problems. Fundamentally, architecture can offer techniques and solutions to solve problems within its sphere of influence. This is also one of the reasons why we work in the field of architecture. However, we need willing partners, such as courageous clients, to create first-rate architecture. The Bauhärepräis demonstrates the impact of successful cooperation between architects and clients. For us, above all, this prize drives us to continue on our path.
4. Generally speaking, how do you see the environment in Luxembourg for young architects in the medium to long term?
At the start, young independent architects are probably all asking the same questions: how can I establish myself and who will give me a chance to showcase my skills? In our experience, we have found that clients - both private and public - are extremely eager to work with young architects. The key issue for young architects is to have a good comprehensive education in order to find innovative solutions to all types of challenges. Architects are becoming more and more professionally adept at networking, in the sense that their projects are more and more interconnected with social, technical and environmental factors. They are required to incorporate these issues into the architectural process. A future role for young architects will be how to re-imagine a previously constructed environment in terms of social and ecological sustainability. However, in many cases, this still remains secondary to economic interests or is often deemed incompatible with the commercial drivers. In this regard, companies can benefit from the ideas put forward by young architects and the Grand Duchy should take advantage of this service offering. One way to achieve this target would be to establish a starting quota for young architectural practices in competitions in order to give these practices and their ideas a chance to shine.