The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award was launched in 1987 and is given every second year to reward and acknowledge the contribution of European professionals in the development of new ideas and technologies, as well as the cultural importance of architecture in the construction of cities. Two winners are awarded: one receives the Prize and the other the Emerging Architect Special Mention.
The new concert hall in Iceland, Harpa, was designed in collaboration with Batteriid Architects and the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Harpa forms part of an extensive development plan for the east harbor in Reykjavik – with the objective of bringing the city and harbor closer together. Henning Larsen Architects won the assignment in an international competition in 2005, and the building was finished in 2011.
The other nominated project, the art museum in Umeå, Sweden, is located between the city and the waterfront, by Umeälven River. The museum is a central part of the Umeå Arts Campus, which is masterplanned by Henning Larsen Architects. The facade features vertical louver paneling in Siberian larch, only broken by the large windows that offer ample daylight, as well as inviting the public inside, during the dark winters in northern Sweden. The building was finished in 2012.
Last time the Mies van der Rohe Award was given was in 2011. The winning project was the Neues Museum in Berlin, by David Chipperfield Architects. The Neues Museum was originally built between 1841 and 1859, but extensive bombing during the second world war left the building in ruins. The museum that stands today is a remake of the original building. The special mention was awarded to Bosch.Capdeferro Arquitectes for a collage house in Girona, Spain.