Young architects, especially, can struggle to distinguish themselves and land that much desired assignment. They must prove themselves – and without recognition or reference projects, that can be difficult. In order to continue to offer an international platform to talented, young designers, while also making excellent graduation projects accessible and providing a broad public with a great source of inspiration, Hunter Douglas has decided to prolong its partnership with Rotterdam’s Archiprix Foundation for another six years. Archiprix International organises a biannual event at which promising young architects from all over the world are invited to present their graduation projects – over 300 universities have submitted entries. An independent international jury offers the best proposals the Hunter Douglas Awards. Thus young talent is offered a platform on which to inspire in the fields of urban design and (landscape) architecture. The submissions also provide insight into shifts occurring in these fields. Currently, for instance, there is a growing social awareness, with a focus on realising buildings that are socially relevant. Max Rink, winner of the Archiprix National 2007 and International 2009 awards, views participation as a quality mark: ‘It is a recognition of your skills as an architect, another step on the way towards getting into business.’
Having won the 2007 National Archiprix award and the 2009 International award, architect Max Rink appreciates the importance of participating like no other. Since his participation, Rink has opened his own office in Rotterdam, called SPRIKK. His graduation project comprised the design of a new market hall in Estonia geared to the country’s economic and social conditions. The rise of large, competitive shopping centres in Estonia has become a threat to the existence of the country’s unique, small-scale markets. In Rink’s design, the markets preserve their characteristic elements, but there is room for economic growth, too. ‘As a young student, I saw the best work presented by earlier generations of Archiprix participants,’ says Rink. ‘I didn’t even dare dream about joining them. It makes being where I am now all the more thrilling. Participating is like getting a quality stamp as a young designer, it’s a form of recognition for good work. Besides that, all Archiprix International participants are offered the option of attending a ten-day joint workshop. I’ve built an interesting network that way. Starting out as an architect can be tough: you have to be good, but you also have to dare. The Archiprix event gives you that little push in the back for building a successful career.’
Henk van der Veen, director of the Archiprix Foundation, describes the partnership with Hunter Douglas as ‘fruitful’. Prolonged financing by Hunter Douglas means the foundation can continue to put the best graduates in the fields of urban design and (landscape) architecture in the spotlights. ‘Besides that, it’s interesting for Hunter Douglas to see the next generation take the platform at each new edition of Archiprix,’ adds Van der Veen. ‘It puts Hunter Douglas in touch with new graduates offering innovative visions.’
Comments Aad Kuiper, General Director of Hunter Douglas Europe, ‘This is one way for us to keep in close contact with developments in architecture. It inspires us as we develop our own products and seek to combine aesthetics with both functional and social aspects.’
Several master programmes in the Netherlands and all over the world select the best projects from among those proposed by their graduates for submission to either the annual Archiprix Netherlands event or the biannual Archiprix International event, which was held in Moscow this year. The purpose is to improve the employability of talented young architects by offering them a platform. The events also provide graduates in the fields of urban design and (landscape) architecture with an opportunity to present themselves to commissioning parties from all over the world, thus developing a broad network.