The Obel Award Talks at the UIA World Congress of Architects

The Obel Award Talks at the UIA World Congress of Architects


Courtesy of the Obel Award.

June 1, 2023
The Obel Award Talks at the UIA World Congress of Architects
Architectural contributions for people and the planet
July 2–6, 2023

Each year, the jury sets a theme for the award that reflects the potential of architecture and design to address today’s major challenges facing the built environment. In 2019, the focus was on well-being, and in 2020, the theme was mending. Cities was the focus of the 2021 award, and emissions the theme in 2022. 

These four big topics will be the framework of “The Obel Talks: architectural contributions for people and the planet” that will be held at the UIA World Congress of Architects this July 2023 in Copenhagen. The conversations will offer an opportunity for deep discussion and conversing with Obel Award winners and renowned experts from around the world.  

The Obel Award Talks
Wednesday, July 5: Wellbeing—Wellbeing through architecture
Location: Bella Center. Description: Wellbeing by means of architectural interventions was theme for the inaugural OBEL AWARD. At its best, as well as at its worst, architecture is all-encompassing which the jury described thus: “Architecture has an enormous impact on the conditions of individual and social life, on the self-awareness of people, on the public sphere, on education, science, economics and politics, on the environment, and on the future developments of all these. Architecture is not only able to contribute to sustainable developments. It is able to design the world of the people as a whole.” In particular, architecture’s ability to impact on both the physical and mental wellbeing of people—by design and by making informed uses of all four dimensions—is an issue that deserves continuous discussion, attention, and self-questioning among the architectural professions. We will hear two lecture-style talks of divergent yet overlapping approaches to wellbeing through architectural interventions.

Junya Ishigami, Martha Schwartz.

Tuesday, July 4: Mending—Creative mending through climate-positive construction or design
Location: Bella Center. Description: Mending within the built environment can be applied to many circumstances and involve different actions. It does not only transform the physical but can also impact other aspects of society.  Mending embodies proposals and processes that can be adjusted to local culture, conditions, and needs, and places each global citizen at the heart of their own city, enabling them to thrive. The OBEL AWARD jury stated that “planet needs creative mending and wholly new ideas. Architecture can and must develop alternative and sustainable uses of space; new and innovative materials; holistic design approaches and construction methods, to name a few. It can and must develop climate-positive solutions in building on an available level. Architecture can and must offer new and daring solutions.”   

If mending implies caring for and improving something that is weak or in danger, can architects ‘mend’ the climate? If not, what is their role? How can local materials and techniques be understood, evaluated for their sustainability and used effectively? These are some of the questions that will be addressed by the experts at the panel discussion.   

Anna Heringer, Xu Tiantian, Renier de Graaf, Jeanne Gang, Moderator: Martha Thorne.

Wednesday, July 5: Cities—Seminal solutions to the challenges facing cities
Location: Bella Center. Description: We all know the figures about cities: more than 50 percent of the world’s population are city dwellers and the number is increasing. Cities consume about 75 percent of all energy and produce about 80 percent of all CO2 as well as about 80 percent of GNP. Even with these figures in mind, the major issues facing cities seem difficult to define and even more difficult to tackle. Cities are dynamic, and with many agents intervening in the definition and creation of a city or parts of it, coupled with often out of date tools to understand and manage cities, the current situation is, at best, complex and confusing.  

Who makes the city of today? Cities are places of conflicting interests. Is it possible to reconcile some of these? Can cities move fast enough towards a circular economy to assure survival? Is policy top down necessary or the answer? How can we meaningfully engage people from the individual level to broader levels of community, city and societal actions?  Join the conversation to discuss these questions and more about the challenges facing cities today.

Carlos Moreno, Natalie de Vries, Joan Clos, Moderator: Martha Thorne.

Monday, July 3: Embodied Emissions
Location: Danish Architecture Center. Description: CO2 is being discussed everywhere, but what are the enablers and barriers for architects to take a leading role in driving down emissions? This panel discussion, with Q&A, will touch on embodied emissions by, and from, materials, methods, tools, circularity, decisioning acceptance, behaviour, as well as the question of accounting.

Sam Draper, Matthias Schuler, Martha Lewis, Kjetil Thorsen, Albert Taylor, Moderator: Chris Luebkeman.

Sunday, July 2: Ungrounding
Location: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Description: Ungrounding is a concept that explicitly aims at destabilizing—pointing to an understanding of space as marked by conflicts and politics. Addressing an unstable world order, the conversation will build on cave_bureau’s work of critical architectural acts of resistance in order to offer new perspectives on the era of the Anthropocene.

This talk is a collaboration between Louisiana and the OBEL AWARD on the occasion of the exhibition The Architects’s Studio—cave_bureau which will be on show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art from June 29 through November 26. 

Sumayya Vally, Kabage Karanja, Stella Mutegi, Toma Berlanda, Moderator: Aric Chen.

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June 1, 2023

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