The ISOCARP Award for Excellence (AfE) rewards plans in the design phase as well as projects in progress or already implemented and is open to a wide range of professionals and institutions operating in the domain of urban and regional planning. Participants are invited to submit different tools used in planners’ daily practice: normative plans, strategic plans, urban projects, programmes, policies, research works, software, smart tools facilitating planners, etc. This prestigious award is bestowed in two categories: Grand Award and Merit Award.
In 2018, a record number of seventeen eligible entries (including six countries over three continents) were submitted:
- Doha City Center Urban Regeneration: A Narrative of Activating the Heart and Connecting the Veins – Qatar;
- Gamuda Cove – China;
- Green Icons – Netherlands;
- Integral Guidelines for Urban Development for Russian Cities – Russia;
- Kunming Wanda City Urban Planning – China;
- LOCK18 Master Plan – Canada;
- “My Street” Program for Moscow streets redesign – Russia;
- Ningyang strategic development plan (2013-2030) – China;
- Northern Zone, Shougang Park, City of Beijing – China;
- Svobodny City – Russia;
- Tagus Platform – Portugal;
- Taihu Lake Region: Ecological Space Planning and Implementation – China;
- Urban Design in Enshi, China: The Win-Win of Nature, Culture and Economy in Poverty Minority Area – China;
- Wuhan East Lake Greenway Implementation Plan – China;
- Wuhan_Action Plan of Tourism Development in the Yangtze ＆Han Riverfront – China;
- Wuhan_Master Planning of Sino-French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration – China;
- Wuhan_Sponge City – China.
The evaluation process was difficult, due to a number of entries, their high quality, and the diversity regarding: location on the globe, socio-economic and political context, people and cultures (Chinese, Russians, North-Americans, Europeans, etc.), challenges and issues faced, themes and vision, environmental issues, and finally scale (from national strategies to urban projects), etc.
By the end of the challenging judging process, the jury composed of five experienced professional planners – Abdelwehab Alwehab (Iraq), Taru Jain (Australia), Stefan Netsch (Austria), Hongyang Wang (China, AfE Winner 2012), and Siniša Trkulja (Serbia), as the jury president – decided to award two projects (both at the urban scale) as the Grand Award Winners, as well as three projects (one at urban scale, two at regional scale) as the Merit Award Winners.
2018 Grand Award for Excellence Winners:
“My Street” Program for Moscow streets redesign, by LLC Strelka KB, Russia
As part of the Moscow Recreational and Tourism Strategy, the urban renewal programme entitled “My Street” is considered an example of outstanding importance for transforming the image of a historical capital for the generations to come. According to the programme, the entire central part of Moscow transforms into a huge public space: in the period between 2014 and 2017, many streets were reconstructed with the energy-efficient street lights installed and trees planted. In addition, the work with historical heritage and the new life of urban spaces was carefully considered. Based on a complex and comprehensive analysis of over 3,500 streets in Moscow, the programme provides a systematic approach as a tool for dealing with a range of urban challenges: on the strategic level, the ‘Guidelines for Urban Improvement’ are seen as a driver of fundamental changes in the city; on the operational level, the ‘Set of Design Solutions’ based on five key principles (diversity, safety, comfort, identity, and ecological performance) offers innovative instructions for implementation. Finally, the example of “My Street” became an incentive for the renovation and valorisation of public spaces in other Russian cities.
Wuhan East Lake Greenway Implementation Plan, by Wuhan Land Use and Urban Spatial Planning Research Center (WLSP), China
Wuhan East Lake Greenway, designed to run through Wuhan’s important functional areas and connect important public spaces such as universities, cultural centres, lakes, hills, and suburbs, exceeds 100 km and thus is an integral part of public space of the broader area. The core feature of the East Lake Greenway Plan is the creation of an online platform for public participation and exploring the ways for the public to contribute with their ideas: the purpose was not only motivating more people to offer the visions, but also making people real decision-makers. Such a concept of combining physical and digital world was also recognised by the UN-Habitat as the first demonstration project for China’s urban public space improvement.
2018 Merit Awards for Excellence Winners:
Urban Design in Enshi, China: The Win-Win of Nature, Culture and Economy in Poverty Minority Area, by Nanjing Southeast University Urban Planning & Design Institute, China
In response to the ecological damage and loss of minority culture caused by the pursuit of rapid economic growth in Enshi as one of the impoverished mountainous areas of western China, this innovative project revises the original urban development plan and launches a series of urban design strategies to achieve a win-win situation for economic growth, natural protection and continuation of minority culture. The project is original as it considers the regional valleys as a particular characteristic in Enshi’s landscape form, being thoroughly explored using big data analysis, GIS topographic analysis and site surveying. The project clearly demonstrates the valleys as not only ecologically sensitive areas that guarantee the natural run off connectivity and the biological species diversity, but also a kind of distinctive construction space for the coordinated development of urban and rural areas.
Taihu Lake Region: Ecological Space Planning and Implementation, by Jiangsu Provincial Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Jiangsu Institute of Urban Planning and Design, Urbanisation and Urban Rural Planning Research Center of Jiangsu and Security Support Center for Urban Water Supply of Jiangsu, China
Giving the priority to eco-restoration, the plan for the Taihu Lake Region stresses integrated and inclusive solutions for economic, social, and cultural complexities and conflicts. Through a number of mechanisms, e.g. regional Green Heart conservation, trans-regional coordination, multi-functional programmes, legislation and policies, the plan comprehensively explores the transformation model of sustainable consumption and production patterns. Participation of public, private and NGO sector, which occurred during the project, and taking due account of climate adaptation and mitigation, as well as smart and resilient principles, clearly demonstrates the relevance of the planning approach applied.
Northern Zone, Shougang Park, City of Beijing, by Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning & Design (BICP), The Shougang Group, City of Beijing and Joyful Cities Consulting Inc./ Dr. Stanley Yip, China
The project is based on the Shougang Park as one of the largest urban regeneration areas in China with an extremely rich industrial heritage. The revitalisation of its Northern Zone is a demonstration project, clearly responding to the demands of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. As a result, the innovative plan revolves around three development pillars – to drive Beijing to achieve sustainability, to be climate resilient, and to effectively respond to economic transformation.
We are thankful to all the submitters who clearly demonstrated how diverse, meaningful, challenging, and interesting the planning profession is, and how much our work can contribute for a better world. Therefore, we invite and hope for many more entries in the coming years. It is not a matter of scale, but of quality and eye-opening projects, which can serve as outstanding examples of contemporary planning practice.