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The DeFlat Kleiburg apartment complex wins the 2017 Mies Van der Rohe Award


Collective housing took centre stage in the decision of this edition’s jury for the prestigious prize awarded by the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation. DeFlat Kleiburg, a complex of apartments situated in Amsterdam, was chosen from among the 5 shortlisted works as the winner of the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. The Special Mention for Emerging Architect went to the Brussels MSA and V+ practice for Navez, a building of 5 social dwellings at the northern entrance to the EU capital.

DeFlat Kleiburg, by the NL architects and XVW architectuur practices, is a project that recovers and refurbishes a large housing block situated in the Bijlmermeer district to the south of Amsterdam and which for a variety of circumstances had fallen into obsolescence. The original block formed part of an urban project designed in the 1960s and inspired in the principles of modern architecture that in large part had lost its sense of context over the years owing to the demolition of blocks and elements in the complex. The project by NL architects and XVW architectuur set out on the building’s urban and functional recovery through an intervention that, while respecting its essence, recovers the structure and allows for flexible reoccupation, in such a way that residents can freely give shape to their homes over time.

This is the first time that the Mies van der Rohe Award has gone to the recovery project for an existing building. This, together with the fact that the two award-winning projects are the work of collective architecture, allows the decision to be interpreted as a message on the importance in contemporary Europe of the social recovery of cities. The jury chairman emphasised that the project “challenges the current solutions to the housing crisis in European cities, where often the only ambition is to build the largest number of homes year after year while the deeper issue of which type of housing should be built goes unanswered. In this quest, revitalising the typologies of the past is as relevant in this crusade as experimenting with new, as yet untested models, such as the radical transformation of existing buildings”.

One of the architecture teams that have won at this edition for the DeFlat Kleiburg project, NL architects, won in 2005 the Special Mention for Emerging Architect for BasketBar, in the city of Utrecht. At this staging the Special Mention went to the Brussels architecture practices MSA and V+ for Navez, a project for 5 social housing units situated at one of the gateways into the Belgian capital.

The award-winning projects were selected from a total of 355 works built in 36 European countries. Both the recognised and the shortlisted projects will be open to the public from 20 to 25 May so that neighbours and visitors can become acquainted with them. On 25 May the organisers and the winners will give a press conference in Barcelona and 26 May will see the prize-giving ceremony at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion. The award and the mention come with purses of 60000 and 20000 euros respectively and both will be presented with a statuette evoking Barcelona’s German pavilion. A series of activities will be staged alongside these functions in Barcelona, such as the presentation of the award’s catalogue, the 2017 Mies Award exhibition at the Victoria Eugenia Palace or the “Made in Europe” show on the esplanade fronting the pavilion.


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