Barozzi Veiga's Szczecin Philharmonic is an astonishing achievement 08.05.15

  • The Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, Poland

  • A large spiral staircase between the two concert halls

  • The symphony hall, clad in faceted triangles of wood covered in gold leaf

  • The building at night

Featured on the cover of Icon's current issue, the Spanish architect's concert hall in Poland has won the Mies van der Rohe award for European contemporary architecture. John Jervis visited the building last month

Icon is delighted to congratulate Barcelona-based practice Estudio Barozzi Veiga on winning the 2015 Mies van der Rohe award for European Contemporary Architecture with their Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, Poland, which was completed late last year. The practice staved off competition from architects such as O'Donnell + Tuomey and Bjarke Ingels to win the €60,000 prize, a decision announced today (8 May) at the Mies van der Rohe pavilion in Barcelona. The judging panel called it a "contemporary monument" that "delivers dignity to urban life and enhances the city's specific historical identity".

Sitting in the Philharmonic's spacious lobby, one can fully understand the praise that has come its way. The sensation internally is one of calm and grandeur; whites predominate and daylight filters down from skylights above. However, it is the exterior, with its peaked roofscape, that has proved decisive in capturing the attention of architecture critics. The entire building is wrapped in vertical strips of aluminium interspersed with opaque glass, which can be illuminated with an intense or dim white, or in a series of colours on national holidays. The result is a glowing castle of glass that achieves a hypnotic, sensuous effect, yet retains an essential restraint.

Initial hostility to the plans among local audiences has been replaced by pleasure and pride, in large part because of the impressive interior spaces. Similarly, the orchestra itself, nervous about relocating from its original home in an elegant 1920s town hall, is now also on side, courtesy of generous back-of-house facilities, convenient parking, full houses and the success of the acoustics.

Szczecin's troubled past and fractured cityscape require solutions that may be beyond the capacities of a single building, but the Philharmonic Hall is certainly an astonishing achievement, irrespective of intent and location.

For the full story behind Barozzi Veiga's award-winning Philharmonic Hall, pick up a copy of Icon's current issue, Poland (pictured below) – read more about its contents here. Read about the other shortlisted buildings here



John Jervis



Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre

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Sitting in the Philharmonic's spacious lobby, one can fully understand the praise that has come its way.

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