The winners of the 2021 Architectural Photography Awards have been announced; and the competition results reflect the challenging year we’ve had, touching upon subjects around the pandemic, city life and architecture. Liu Xinghao was crowned the overall winner, with work springing from the Sense of Place category of the awards cycle and taking on the theme of holidaying during the Covid-19 pandemic. His winning piece captures people spending time outdoors, in the shadow of Raffles City Chongqing China by Safdie Architects. 

The coveted prize, which includes a pot of $4250 to be shared between the winners, is selected among the awards’ several categories, spanning six themes in total: Exterior, Interior, Sense of Place, Buildings in Use, Mobile (which this year’s theme is Greening the City), and Portfolio (with the theme of Building with History). With the shortlisted works revealed earlier this year, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the news on the big winner, and the top spots have been revealed today as part of the annual World Architecture Festival events. 

Nee Deyie, who shot the Jiaxing Train Station, by MAD Architects
Portfolio winner: Jiaxing Train Station in Shanghai, China by Née Deyie

Liu Xinghao’s gong was accompanied by the Portfolio winner, Nee Deyie, who shot the Jiaxing Train Station, by MAD Architects; and the Mobile winner, Chen Guanhong for his photos of Gardens at the Getty Los Angeles USA by Richard Meier with Cactus Garden at the South Promontory part of the original design, created by Dennis McGlade of OLIN. 

The international prize, which has been growing from strength to strength within the architecture photography industry since its inception in 2012, prides itself to be wide-reaching and diverse, and this year was no exception. Entries (some 2000 of them) arrived from 42 countries, from the UK and US, to China, Australia and Iran. The judges, a panel consisting of acclaimed photographer Richard Bryant, last year’s winner Laurian Ghinitoiu, Magnum Photos’ Hamish Crooks, Chloe Grimshaw of the Grimshaw Foundation, Katy Harris of Foster + Partners and academic Marco Iuliano, certainly had their work cut out. 

Mobile winner, Chen Guanhong for his photos of Gardens at the Getty Los Angeles USA by Richard Meier with Cactus Garden at the South Promontory part of the original design, created by Dennis McGlade of OLIN.
Mobile winner: Gardens at the Getty in Los Angeles, USA by Chen Guanhong

‘This was a tough competition to judge and I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of all the entries presented to us especially in terms of their compositional and technical quality. From my background in social documentary photography, I was leaning towards those pictures that show some social interaction between the architecture and humanity and the environment, looking specifically for those suspended moments – the kind of picture that you can imagine the scene continued in exactly same trajectory before and after the photo was taken. The winner will be well deserved, but also congratulations to all who are shortlisted as I’d say you’ve got a future in photography,’ says Crooks, who is Magnum’s media licensing and archive consultant. §