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It is highly likely that in the history of the Charter Awards, this is the first barn to receive the honor. But, as the jury noted, the Charter recognizes that urbanism happens at all scales, and the transect stretches from urban to rural. More importantly, the jury felt that the thoughtful approach by architect Colum Mulhern reflected a truly new urbanist mindset.
Weiler-la-Tour, Luxembourg is a well-preserved historic village, with a farm at its center. Mulhern was tasked both with expanding the 19th century farmhouse to include apartments for workers and with creating a shelter for farming machinery. Jury member Will Bruder felt Mulhern “achieved a nuanced, unassuming magic in his solution.”
In agreement with the Charter’s environmental concerns, there is an impressive water capture and reuse procedure, and the electrical heating system in the new farmhouse was replaced with one fuelled by wood shavings and plant matter produced on the farm itself. Additionally, all paving stones and slabs were carefully removed and recycled in the construction of the new buildings.
The client asked that the new design be viable for the next hundred years. Mulhern employed building strategies that will make future transformations cheaper than demolition. The timber roof structure is supported on concrete pillars, large enough to prevent wind efforts on the roof from cracking the masonry, and is covered with insulated metal decking that can be easily added to or replaced if some future use demands a slate or tiled roof.
Remarkable in its continuity, orientation and respect for the future, the project, according to Chatfield-Taylor, is “a structure that is so seamlessly conceived and executed that it immediately belongs and breathes life.”
In Karlstad, Sweden, a large block overlooking the main square was gutted by a fire. Redevelopment in this historic town center required cultural sensitivity and innovative thinking.
Union City, California
Union City is one of the farthest-flung BART stops in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one of the least developed.