Thursday31 July 2014

Young Architect of the Year 2010: Serie Architects

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Global player Serie takes the 2010 award for emerging talent

As the sun set over BD HQ, judges continued to debate the merits and pitfalls of the five shortlisted contenders for this year’s Young Architect of the Year Awards, in what turned out to be the closest-run competition in some years, writes Oliver Wainwright.

In the end, Chris Lee and Kapil Gupta of Serie Architects came out on top, wowing the panel with the intellectual rigour and ambitious scale of their work – as well as some beautifully crafted models.

Lee, who has taught Diploma Unit 6 at the Architectural Association since 2004, explained how their projects are founded on the “cumulative intelligence of precedent types,” drawing on the early work of Aldo Rossi, with a focus on recurring “deep structures”.

Kapil Gupta (left) and Chris Lee of Serie Architects

Source: Fram Petit

Kapil Gupta (left) and Chris Lee of Serie Architects: “prepared to tackle the big urban issues head on”.

Despite having only realised a bar fit-out and a restaurant and banqueting hall in Mumbai, the practice showed how its continuity of approach is applied in competitions of a hugely varied nature. It recently won two contests for housing in Bratislava, Slovakia; one a play on luxury suburban villas, the other a group of high-density towers with 56 unique apartment layouts.

The pair also showed two highly original proposals for Chinese projects, a horticultural park in Xi’an, and a factory conversion in Hangzhou.

“Serie has demonstrated that it is prepared to tackle the big urban issues head-on,” said Steve Tompkins of Haworth Tompkins. “I would love to see them build at scale.”

Coming a close second were Susanne Tutsch and Barbara Kaucky of Erect Architecture, who received a special commendation for their impressive body of built work, including an adventure play centre and infant school, both in London.

Serie Architects' Ruzinov Middle Income Housing, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Source: Serie Architects

Serie Architects’ Ruzinov Middle Income Housing, Bratislava, Slovakia.

They showed images of vast 1:33 models, developed through play-based consultation with children, and discussed the challenges of incorporating specialist artist sub-contractors into the procurement process.

“These are socially engaged, useful buildings for real clients, showing great sensitivity to materials,” said Fran Tonkiss of the LSE.

Design Research Unit Wales – the youngest team on the shortlist – gave the most original presentation, revealing drawings, models and other ephemera from an elaborate “crate of curiosities”.

Its “local buildings for local people” demonstrated a serious engagement with the building process, in which they are often personally involved, and showed a deep appreciation of context.


  • Erect Architecture (special commendation)
  • Design Research Unit Wales
  • Moxon Architects
  • Space Group Architects


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