2014 Icon Awards shortlist: Emerging Architecture Practice of the Year 19.11.14

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  • The Playing Field by Assemble

  • Frida Escobedo

  • Black Maria by Gruppe

  • Streatham Street Manual

  • ABC Building by Wise Architecture

Last year's winner was Rural Urban Framework. Who will it be this year? Here is the shortlist of emerging architecture practices. The category is sponsored by EQUITONE from Marley Eternit


One of the most sought-after young design firms operating in London, 16-strong architecture collective Assemble comprises recent graduates from an eclectic range of fields – including architecture, philosophy, literature and art. In 2010, it transformed a filling station into a temporary cinema, following this with another temporary cinema and performance venue the following year. The group has since gone on to work on more permanent projects, including an exhibition for the British Council, a space in a Dalston café, a public square in Croydon and an adventure playground in Glasgow. 

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Art gallery at Goldsmiths college by Assemble


The cover star of Icon's Mexico issue (128) co-founded her first architecture office, Perro Rojo, in 2003, aged 24. Fascinated with the country's troubled relationship with modernism, Escobedo set up her own practice three years later. Recently, she completed a conversion of the painter David Alfaro Siqueiros's house, La Tallera Siqueiros, into a new museum and cultural centre. A triangular-patterned, concrete-block screen envelops both new extensions and existing buildings. At the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Escobedo created a "civic stage", a pivoted circular stage placed in the Praça da Figueira that tilts according to its level of occupation. The entire project, including the metal structure and wooden surface for the stage, was built in Mexico and shipped across to Portugal.

Read our interview with Escobedo

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La Tallera, Morelos, Mexico, by Frida Escobedo


Christoph Junk, Boris Gusic and Nicholas Lobo Brennan founded architecture and design practice GRUPPE in Zurich in 2010, where they teach together at ETH. The trio, who say they are concerned with "thinking through building" and "the inherently political nature of architecture", teamed up with artist Richard Wentworth on a temporary theatre for the foyer of the King's Cross campus of Central Saint Martins in February 2013 (Icon 119). Recently, they installed House of Muses at the Museum of London, an Architecture Foundation competition for a structure where the public can contemplate what a museum should be. The installation resembles an oversized column on a plinth and is inspired by historic fragments found around the City of London. The practice was also the winner of the 2012 Swiss Art Award for Architecture.

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Black Maria by Gruppe


With backgrounds in architecture and interaction design, Holly Lewis and Oliver Goodhall established their Hackney-based multidisciplinary studio We Made That in 2006. All the studio's work is public, using research and engagement to focus on the relationship between local communities and creative practice. In March, the pair prepared the Streatham Street Manual for Lambeth council: a publication that sets out an approach to high-street renewal with social, spatial and economic benefits. The studio has already completed a streetscape regeneration scheme on a small budget in Walthamstow, and construction is underway on building-frontage improvements in Croydon. 

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Streatham Street Manual 


South Korean studio WISE Architecture is concerned with environmentally responsible and inventive design, winning the Korean Young Architect Award in 2011. Partners Young Jang and Sook Hee Chun are best known for the ABC Building, an office block in Seoul built in 2012. They describe it as an "architectural mountain", which visitors climb by a staircase that starts in a narrow exterior alley and winds its way up to a rooftop looking over a historic park. The exterior wall is a steel frame with a dry-brick facade system. Without mortar, the gaps between the black bricks allow views through to a solid brick wall behind. The pair also used black brick for the domestic-sized Museum of War and Women's Rights in Seoul, which has a stone staircase engraved with the final words of women used for sexual slavery in the Pacific War. 

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ABC Building in Seoul, South Korea, by Wise Architecture

The Icon Awards take place on 4 December. Read the full shortlist here





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