UPTO35 was launched almost a year ago by Greek developers Oliaros, a company dedicated to creative redevelopment and supporting contemporary, pioneering and environmentally friendly design.
The bold scheme involved a two-stage architecture competition for the design and later construction of a model student-housing complex in the historic centre of Athens; the winners were announced a few days ago, naming Greece-based architects João Prates Ruivo & Raquel Maria Oliveira, and their proposal 18 Steps, as the recipients of the first prize.
Aiming to encourage research and architectural creativity and boost the opportunities on offer for the current generation of young international architects (entries, as the competition name suggests, could come from architects up to 35 years old), the brief asked for an innovative design which would house 18 students on a 200 sq m plot, in an area set to become a student hub for the Greek capital.
The scheme’s challenge, as well as its €10,000 prize money, attracted 242 proposals from 41 countries. The winners were chosen from a final shortlist of five, which also included 101design architects and Suppose Design Office from Japan, Solid Objectives - Idenburg Liu from the USA, and Marieke Kums and Dirk Peters from the Netherlands - each of whom received €3,000 for their designs.
The judging panel comprised of the managing director of Oliaros, Iasson Tsakonas and key local and international architects: BIG director, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels; Greek architect Andreas Kourkoulas, head of Athens-based Kokkinou-Kourkoulas Architectural Office; Marcel Meili of Marcel Meili und Markus Peter architekten in Zurich; Tokyo Institute of Technology professor Yoshiharu Tsukamoto; assistant professor in architecture at the University of Thessaly Yorgos Tzirtzilakis; and renowned architect as well as one of the original founders of OMA, Elia Zenghelis who also acted as the panel’s chairman. The jury’s vote was counted together with a public vote, which was open to everybody through the project’s website, and the combined results led to the winning choice.
The announcement and monetary prize is certainly not the last we will hear of the ambitious project. Oliaros has now committed to developing the design which will be realised in the centre’s Keramikos and Metaxourgeio area, while an upcoming exhibition of the competition will take place at the capital’s Benaki Museum, due to open at the end of March this year. A publication presenting the project will also follow.