One of Europe's leading architectural competitions, the Schindler Award, is now accepting entries for 2012. Architecture students and schools from across Europe can register for the competition, which challenges participants to incorporate "Access for All" into their designs. The projects entered will be judged by a panel of internationally renowned experts in architecture and accessibility, led by Prof. Kees Christiaanse from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.
Students and schools of architecture are invited to put forward proposals to redevelop an unsightly corner of the otherwise excellently preserved old town of the Swiss capital, Berne. Projects submitted must include a master plan, which provides a convincing answer to the shortcomings of the site, known locally as the "Schützenmatt".
Architecture for human beings
The key aspect of the competition is "Access for All", a design philosophy characterized by inclusiveness and barrier-free mobility for people of all ages and capabilities. The competition's organizer and sponsor, the Schindler Group, believes that it is a basic human right for people with physical or cognitive impairments to participate in social life. The Schindler Award therefore helps to improve young architects' practical knowledge and skills in planning. It also encourages an architectural approach that makes a lasting contribution to a better quality of life for everyone, including people with disabilities.
To adress all the shortcomings of the "Schützenmatt" would require a complete redesign of the area. The Schindler Award is concentrating on the urban concept including access to the nearby river valley and the integration of social services.
Unique opportunity for young architects
The 2012 competition gives participants a unique opportunity to develop new design possibilities for a part of one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities. The site itself is a trapezoid adjoining the north-western corner of the historic city center, just a few minutes' walk from the central train station. It is cut in half by a railway bridge and strangled by streets and houses as well as a parking area for cars and buses. The district is also home to museums, cultural centres and a drug dispensary for heroin addicts.
Students interested in participating in the 2012 competition should register online at www.schindleraward.com. The competition also awards prizes to schools of architecture for incorporating "Access for All" into their curricula. The closing date for registrations is April 30, 2012. Completed projects must be submitted by July 30, 2012.