A Report of International Conference of 2A Continental Architectural Award for Asia and Europe (02/12/2017)

2A Magazine is pleased to report a conference and discussion panel which have taken place on October 20th 2017, in Berlin. The Conference was a professional platform to share and discuss innovative Architecture in Asia and Europe continents. This gathering was a room to talk about new directions and order in both continents. It has also been a unique opportunity to both academics academics and practitioners to share their vision, information, ideas and experiences relating to contemporary architecture in Asia and Europe.

International Conference of 2A Continental Architectural Awards for Asia and Europe

October 20th, 2017  ESTREL BERLIN

Pejman Aghasi [Member of Organizing Committee of 2A Continental Architectural Award 2017]

2A Magazine is pleased to report a conference and discussion panel which have taken place on October 20th 2017, in Berlin. The Conference was a professional platform to share and 
discuss innovative Architecture in Asia and Europe continents. This gathering was a room to talk about new directions and order in both continents. It has also been a unique opportunity
to both academics academics and practitioners to share their vision, information, ideas and experiences relating to contemporary architecture in Asia and Europe.
Architectural approaches:
  • Unity in Diversity in Today’s Europe- Asia Architecture
  • A Forum for International Interaction and Exchanging Theories and Practices of Architecture
  • Sharing Ideas from Various Origins
  • Contextual Analysis and Studies in Europe – Asia
  • Architectural Networking between Europe and Asia

 We have chosen the theme " Innovative Architecture in Europe & Asia" for both the International conference and the award , for many good and needed reasons.

Why ? What are the benefits in focusing on this subject ?

Before answering this questions, let me give you a brief history on existing architectural styles, how they have been formed, what type of factors have led to their creation ? What were the challenges? And what challenges are architects and urban planners are facing today? And finally talk about possible solutions.


An Architectural style in any region is characterized by the features that make a building or structure notable and historically identifiable. A style may include such elements as form, methods of construction, building materials, and regional cultural and historical character. Most architecture can be classified as a chronology of styles which changes over time reflecting changing fashions, trends, lifestyles, beliefs and religions or the emergence of new ideas, innovative technologies, or materials which make styles feasible, applicable and possible.


Styles therefore emerge from history of a society and are evident in the subject of architectural history. At any given time several styles may be fashionable, and when a style changes it usually does so gradually , as architects learn to adapt to new ideas. Styles often spread to other places, so that the style at its source continues to develop in its new ways while other regions and countries follow with their own twists , adding or omitting certain features in order to harmonize this new style with their local needs and culture.


What are these challenges ?


Major contemporary events such as two world wars, industrialization which lead to massive migration from rural areas to big cities where factories were centralized, foreign and international migration due to local wars and other socio- economic factors, and other factors have caused the architecture to transform to meet the newly created situation.

The emergence of new ideas, materials and technologies have helped the architects to make this transformations possible.


Todays architect both European and Asian have to deal with many dualities and in some cases even paradoxes when trying to design and build a unique new project, because they need to consider their cultural roots while building a modern project which should also be functional and suitable with their contemporary realities and needs.

Some of these challenges are :


Diversity versus unity

Society and responsiveness

Traditionalism versus Modernism

Innovation and identity protection

Urbanism caused by industrialization and massive domestic & foreign migrations.


These among others are the challenges the contemporary professional architects face in today's rapidly changing world.


2A as an international Architectural organization finds dealing with such challenges as one of its prime responsibilities and has continually tried to invite outstanding professional Architects and use their expertise and experience to suggest and offer the most up to date and efficient professional advice and strategies to all other architects around the globe. For the same purpose, we have invited some of the world's top architects , Professors of architecture to this event, in order to discuss useful and progressive topics related to the theme of " Innovative architecture .

Nader Ardalan




Figure 1. Hafez-Goethe Memorial, Weimar, 2000                                                                                              Figure 2. West-Ostlicher Divan by Goethe,



The theme of the 2A Architectural Awards for 2017 is: “Uniting Through Architecture”.

Since this conference is being held in Berlin, I was delighted to find that we are also “United Through Poetic Visions” when my research found the reference to the Goethe-Hafez Memorial built in Weimar in 2000, inspired by the “West-Oestlicher Divan” originally written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1819 (Figures 1 & 2). Goethe’s generation struggled against the encroaching limitations of the Cartesian mechanistic world view. Today, Iran and the world face the crises caused by the same dilemma. Traditional German “Wanderlust” and Iranian spiritual quest both cry out for a “return to nature”, and a balanced, passionate desire for spiritually inspired creativity and order in life and our built environments, as envisioned in the tradition of Goethe’s Naturphilosophie.  Goethe’s romantic vision found a liberating home in the lyrical, worldly, metaphysical poetry of the 14th c. Hafez of Shiraz, whose perennial message, valid today as ever, speaks of the inseparability of the transcendent unity at the core of humanity, East and West. Thus, Goethe wrote in his Divan this tribute to Hafez:


Whether world becomes ruined or not,             “Come, so that we can scatter flowers  

   Hafez! I want only you as my rival.                            and fill the glass with wine,

The happiness and the sorrow, for us,                    And split the ceiling of the skies

             the twins, are alike.                                          and try a new Design!”

    This should be my glory and life,

   that I love and drink wine like you.” - Goethe                       - Hafez   



Our Human Community is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten our very existence and that of all life on the planet. It is becoming clear that current predominant, materialistic worldview, which led us to this place of environmental, social and economic crisis, is no longer capable of informing or inspiring a viable, sustainable future.

                                                We need a new cultural vision.

Art, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning have the potential to influence the transcendent cultivation of humanity by providing the physical forms

and spaces that not only give tangible and meaningful expression to our individual and collective dreams, desires and aspirations, but that also connect our worldly existence to the realm of the ineffable.

Figure 3.  United Nations Sustainability Development Goals 2030



In 2015, 193 UN member states unanimously adopted the 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) to be achieved by 2030 (see Figure 3). We support the value and benefits of SDG, but observe that these objectives were based only upon a triad of Social, Economic and Environmental dimensions and omitted the critical role of Culture as the fourth dimension in the definition of Sustainability. Culture and its associated considerations of transcendent design, beauty and cultural identity need to be integrated into the SDG to enable spiritually inspired, holistically sustainable built environments of the future to be realized.

Definition: “Culture”: The integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, behavior, and aesthetic expressions that depend upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations by consideration of UNESCO Conventions on the Tangible and Intangible aspects of society’s accrued heritage, such as oral traditions, performing arts and crafts, social practices, rituals & festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, a civilization’s Worldview (“Weltanschauung”).



Definition: Transcendent here refers to the cultivation of a profound respect, reverence and relationship with all people, places and things in the physical, mental, emotional and most subtle realms. Transcendence attends to a heightened state of mind in which one perceives, with unbound wonder and reverence, the presence of an insight beyond

limited self- consciousness; an attempt to be in harmony with an unseen order of the Universe and its connections to everyday life.

This tradition continued to 19th century Romantics, Emerson, Thoreau and Goethe’s generation who perceived and struggled against the coming dominance of Cartesian, mechanistic, materialistic world views. They had a ‘Wanderlust’, a passionate, creative

and balanced relationship with nature and earth. The concept of transcendent beauty is perennial and timeless. It has and continues to inspire outstanding designs that integrate culture and sustainability (See Figures 4 to 7).


Figure 4 & 5. Sheikh Lutfullah Ceiling, Isfahan, 17th C.   Cardboard Tube Structure, Shigeru Ban, 21st C. 


Figure 6. Tehran Contemporary Museum             Figure 7. Imam Sadegh University (formerly ICMS), 1972

of Design, 1966- 77, K. Diba & N. Ardalan           Nader Ardalan


As a member of the International Jury for the Asia Continental Design Competition, with Waro Kishi of Japan and Shirish Beri of India, I wish to observe that an internationally high standard for the jury process was observed. The Phase I online, wed-based design review and assessment process by the 2A Organizers of nearly 500 entries was exceedingly well organized and facile to use. Furthermore, the Berlin judgement process at the Technical University of the nearly 150 shortlisted projects in seven categories resulted in a consensus based selection of a wide variety of worthy projects.


I have been seriously thinking about the deeper lessons that can be learned through the 2A Architectural Awards process. Having considered my own deliberations on this subject over the past five decades of active practice and research and paraphrasing Juhani Pallasmaa, the following key questions can be asked on the topic of the achievement of meaningful design and finding a spirit worthy of the architectural heritage of the great regional cultures of the world:


1.Can we decipher and define, the timeless identity and ‘spirit’ of the architectural and planning heritage of each of the unique regional cultures?

2. If deciphered, are they a closed pre-coded and prescribed system of conventions or are they open, experiential qualities arising from contemporary situational, individual and unique artistic visions?

3. Or are they a creative combination of timeless, perennial principles and spontaneous,

situational conditions that unite to allow ever contemporary, new design realizations?


I can decipher two significant themes in the majority of projects awarded and thereby suggest some answers to the deeper questions that have been posited:

The future lies in the past”

The majority of project awarded were small, modest, human scaled and followed in the ‘footsteps of their grandfathers’. They strived to reinforce existing spatial traditions, such as courtyards, and the use of local building solutions, such as earthen and wood construction. Thus, they were following timeless sustainable and socially relevant design principles that still allowed contemporary, affordable and innovative designs.

Low-tech is the future high-tech”

In addition to the worldwide growing awareness for healthy living, natural building materials and methodologies result in low energy needs and usage, cost efficiency and recyclability. Most low-energy buildings do not require mechanical ventilation while providing comfortable indoor climatic conditions. As High energy buildings, due to cost and lack of energy availability are phased out, low energy buildings will become the future.


In conclusion, I look forward to the publication of the 2A 2017 Awards and encourage continuance of such significant endeavors in 2018, with even more definition, rigor and explorations of the value and timeless lessons of the different Regional and Cultural Architectural identities that have historically existed and may continue to shape the natural transcendent ‘spirit’ of future sustainable built environments of World Continents.

Waro Kishi

History/Contemporariness _Cultural Layers

When I was a student, I could not understand why Japan is in the “Far East”.
But after I began practicing as an architect, I have come to learn that there are two type of maps of the world, or the globe.
One is our familiar one for the Pacific rim countries, which has the Pacific Ocean in the center of the map, and the other is the one with the Atlantic Ocean in the center which is more often used in the Western world.
When I found out that there are two versions of the world map, I could understand our country, Japan, belongs to “Far East”, found in the far-right edge of the map.
Due to the cultural and historical situations of Japan, we were under the Western-style map, in which Japan had been on the right edge, in the “Far East”.
All our cultural influences came from the West, specifically from China, India, ”Middle East” and even from European continent from around 6 or 7th century.
We, in Japan, have had so many cultural imports from the West including Buddhism, tea, flower arrangement and, of course, architecture style.
Our national archive in Todai-ji Shosou-in, which was established in 8th century, includes imports from China, India, Assyria and many from the West.
As for our architecture, we have Shitenno-ji, built in 7th century(593AD) follows the strict China style, the symmetry plan. But Horyu-ji, which was built around the same time (601AD), also follows the China style. But there is a difference. Horyu-ji plan is not in a symmetry one but is asymmetrical, which you may say is the origin of “Japanization” in architecture.
Since then, we have been accepting the cultural influences from the West and, moreover, we have been adding some “contemporariness” to the imported historical culture. You can find the same kind of phenomena not only in our architecture style but also in our city planning, tea ceremony, flower arrangement and interpretation of Buddhism.
As a Kyoto-based architect, I have come to understand our cultural characteristics as I have described, and decided to follow my understandings.
For example, “Hu-tong House” is my contemporary interpretation of the historical urban space in Beijing. Also, with “House in Wakayama”, I gave a contemporary alternative based on my personal impression of the water garden of a Hindu temple in Bali, which I encountered almost 20 years prior to that project.
Even “Modernism” is already a part of historical archive for me.
With “House in Fukaya”, I was offered to follow the style of Pierre Koening, who is one of the architects of Case Study Houses in Los Angeles in early 1960s. I wrote a book on Case Study Houses and my client told me to follow the style. And I completely enjoyed doing that, just like the architect of Horyu-ji in 7th century, who was offered to follow the style from China.
This co-exsistance of history and contemporariness is important for me, as a Kyoto-based architect of 21st century.

Shirish Beri

I always look at these events as small opportunities for fostering greater brotherhood, compassion and goodness between people of different nations. Thus, I was happy to accept Mr. Ahmad Zohadi’s invitation to act as a jury member for this international design competition. Thank you Mr. Ahmad and your team for inviting me to this august gathering. It was a stupendous task to review the 457 design entries, each in a different context and with a different conceptual priority.
The entries were judged on the basis of their rootedness to their context of place, culture, society, climate and also on their merit to transcend these towards the universal value of a holistic goodness in architecture. Use of appropriate materials and technology to achieve the above was also reviewed. These winning entries also had to display qualities of holistic, benevolent and sustainable architecture.

Bharati Vidyapeeth guest house

Kolhapur Institute of Technology

What can constitute this architecture of goodness ? How can goodness be translated in the architectural language ?


This has been an important criteria for me while designing as well as while judging the entries. Thus, I always ask….


.. would striking a  rapport of empathy with nature bring in goodness into our architecture and then, into our lives ?


.. wouldn’t an architecture that brings us closer to other people also bring about goodness in our lives ?


.. can unified, holistic architectural  spaces create that ambience and goodness of bonding  with the surrounds as well as with one’s own self ?


.. wouldn’t a caring, compassionate and simple sustainable design evoke and spread a sense of well being and goodness in the environment ?

Can my work help in shifting of our emphasis from the measurable saleability to the immeasurable sanctity and from glossy wrappings to inner content.


when we experience ourselves as this fascinating universal energy,

we drown in its intrinsic goodness … and then …

.. sound becomes music

.. colours become a painting

.. words become poetry

.. movement becomes dance

.. the formless becomes a form

.. mind becomes meditation and

   life becomes a celebration.

Discussion Panel

The discussion panel started with an introduction by Pejman Aghasi, the introduction included thanking and welcoming the participants and a brief description of architecture in Asia and Europe, then the first question of the panel has been asked:

Part 1: How do you predict and hope the modernization of todays architecture and usage of new technologies would shape the future development of our cities around the continents, how do you asses this transformation? Do you find it appropriate and positive? Do you have any suggestions to improve on the existing situation?

Nader Ardalan: I personally have been identifying what are the timeless qualities within the bioclimatic cultural zones, and then asking myself, are these timeless qualities, closed conventions, or are they actually open systems with an essential core idea that can over period of time be used. We are really dealing with the contemporary expression of bioclimatic cultural zones of the earth. So I’m very interested in identifying some core perennial patterns that some of them do exist. But I’m interested in, are they closed, do they limit the creativity of the individual who latches onto these timeless qualities, or are they actually very positive in their creative that they give you a seed but then you can plan that seed in the soil and water it and it can give you a new bloom, because we really are in a state in which we need to survive and so there are certain lessons towards sustainability that can give us from timeless perennial aspects of what has existed in history and then we can interpret some of these.

Eike Becker: actually the time we are in is the only time we can actually be in, so that is the only option that we have got. We can sometimes complain about how the world changes, but we only have the option to accept what we have got and to try to change that and that can on be done with scientific analysis, can only be done successfully with many different competences and participating as well as joining forces  and then making something with all the creativity, with all the knowledge that we have that is better than it was before, that is not only our ambition, that is actually what we have to have in our agenda because if we don’t take it, we will not be able to influence it and we will get subject to others and that’s not what we want. We want to take our phase, our future in our own hands, and we can do that. That is possible.

Sergei Tchoban: I think we are becoming too global, so nearly every work could be built in any part of the world so if you go through exhibition you can not think clearly in which part of the world this was built or maybe was project for. So I think the very big challenge would be to create or develop the identity of every region with own building materials, with all own possibilities, to produce its materials to produce its methods, and to bring the technology to serve its identity, I think we should come nearer to the own identity of every region and to traditional materials, and maybe to create more modest but more sustainable.

Shirish Beri: Yes, I think we need to sympathize and be attuned to the universal timeless values, timeless things like compassion, dignity, justice and peace. Which are common in all of the world, universal values, but they need to be applied to area specific context. so something like, which is a very cliché sentence is that, “ Think globally and act locally.” Then I would like to ask whether we can shift our emphasis from  compartmentalization to holistic unity, from the measurable to the immeasurable, from sellable to sacred,  and rather can we strike the right dynamic balance between all these,  I mean, I feel that if this can happen, a lot of things will fall in their place, spontaneously.

Waro Kishi: I showed two maps of the world in my lecture, and actually the world is one world, but the map shows that the world looks different according to your point of view, and I explained about the china japan relationship from the 6th century.  So, the world is like that.  I helped you so now it’s your time to help me. Of course, the world is so wide, so the situation is so different, but all is according to you to help each other.

Bahram Shirdel: I come from from a land with five or seven thousand years of experience in sustainability in architecture, persia. I don’t really think that architecture is only about technology. Space according to technology always has to be a homogenous space, that is a space which is suited for everybody. And a space that is suited for everybody means a space which is not suited for nobody at all. We are in Berlin and Berlin is like a museum of architecture. And all of this is about heterogeneous space, it’s about space that queues for individuals. That provides for the life of the individuals.


Part 2: It is international events such as this that provide a very unique opportunity for the architects of these two great continents or other areas of the world to come together and share their experience and their professional expertise. So I want to ask you, how beneficial and useful you think these kind of events can be for architects from various regions, for our sake, Asia and Europe, to share their information and expertise for building a better living space in the respective continents.

Nader Ardalan: I principally think that there were many young architects who participated in this project, not because of the quality but because of the thinking process of the young generation. Just a quick comment: when we finished our jury and we looked at what had been selected, and it was sort of you know, enormous enthusiasm, a lot of commonality and discussion but when we finally looked at what we had picked, we said to each other, the future lies in the past. Building low-tech, and one of you wrote in your project you said, low-tech is the future high-tech, I truly believe that’s what we learned that people were building things in the footsteps of their grandfathers that had worked, not that they imitated it, but in the scale of it, in the use of materials, in the way they approached human society, in the care of individual scale, so what I learned from this process is, to be honest with you, in this little Japanese riddle called Kwan, how can the future lie in the past.

Eike Becker: well when people come together, they have to talk, of course, to understand each other, to learn from each other, as well, so actually I have some expectations for tonight as well, later on, when we actually come down to discussions and actually exchanging thoughts,

so, what would be interesting actually what can we learn from each other, in patience, high-tech, low-tech, I mean we live in a technological world whether we want it or not, that’s what we have to use and actually that’s what we want to use as well, I remember I wanted to build, first I had a building that was high-tech building, it was lots and lots of technology, intelligent, etc. . So from that point on, I tried really hard in every building to reduce technological aspect, to make it more natural, natural ventilation back again, etc. but still looking at all these buildings, they still had a lot of  technology to integrate. Smart technology, intelligent building system, etc. . So what we want is one thing, but what we have to do and the solutions that are offered is something completely different, so I’m very curious to learn about the issues that you’re tackling where you come from.

Sergei Tchoban: I think such meetings are very important because we here chat, speak and hear very different views on the work of each other, I had the chance to begin to work a little bit in Iran last year and I was wondering how different and very interesting way of thinking is there and I think such meetings can help a lot for different people to understand another culture so I think  it’s a great opportunity.

Shirish Beri: Actually competitions like this are good learning experience for the participants as well as the jurors, when we discussed the result of the competition, we did find out that most of the entries were expressions of a society that is very commercial but winners, winners who we chose from this lot, had a very different way of thinking, had what Nader talked about, caring for the old values, values that are called the universal values, values which still exists, I mean if we design with sustainability and with these values and the local context in mind, they have come up with some very interesting solutions, and actually it would be very good for all the competitors too to go through winners. So for me, just reviewing all these entries also was a very interesting task, because I could think of the many possibilities in which the issue is the same.

Waro Kishi: I think the most interesting and important point of this kind of event is that we could know the difference of each other, know the common point about the difference but the difference, for example, I’m a typical Japanese so I came here ten minutes before three but very few people were there, and actually in Japan we have several times, we have Kyoto time and I’m living in Kyoto and I have Kyoto time. In Kyoto 3’o clock means 3:10 or 3:15, but in Tokyo 3 is 3. I didn't know berlin time, so I was here 10 minutes before 3 but very few people, so that now for example this is a key to know the cultural differences, so I don’t know this is a berlin culture or what but there is difference so that's it.


Bahram Shirdel: I should agree with you in a tremendous way that difference is extremely important, difference in thinking, difference in architecture. Why do all architects wear black? So are we different? So if we talk about something, like we talk about difference, let’s mean it, are we really doing different things in different parts of the world? And that’s why I think is the value of an event like this, basically events that for the past three years, the 2a magazine has been organizing, I think it’s very valuable because these are the events that people and architects from different cultures can meet and exchange their ideas so maybe we should really do that and next time we meet, maybe we should wear our sustainable, local, cultural attire.