The Belgian architect Julien De Smedt (b. 1975) of JDS Architects has been awarded the Rotterdam-Maaskant Prize for Young Architects 2009.
The prize goes to De Smedt because he combines typological innovation and largeness of scale with an eye for detail and special attention for the user in a natural way. De Smedtâ€™s work covers a remarkable range of programs and scales: from interiors to large housing projects, from architecture to urban design. His qualities as an architect have been amply demonstrated in a considerable number of designs. This outcome, at this age, means that De Smedt clearly stands out from his peers in the view of the jury.
De Smedt started his career at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam. In 2001, he co-founded the architecture bureau PLOT in Copenhagen. He started his current bureau, JDS Architects, in 2006 with offices in Brussels, Copenhagen and Oslo. Projects on which De Smedt has worked vary from the VM House with 76 different types of apartments out of 216 in Copenhagen, a public swimming pool in the port of Copenhagen, a psychiatric hospital in the Danish town of Helsingor, student housing in Paris, housing projects in Taiwan and a ski jump near Oslo for the world championship in 2011, currently under construction. For the city of Groningen in the Netherlands, Julien De Smedt is developing a vision on intensive low-rise building.
The ‘young’ Maaskant Prize, consisting of a monetary award of 5,000 Euros ($6,600) and a publication, is intended to encourage architects under 35, and is awarded biennially on the recommendation of a specially assembled jury. This time, the jury consisted of Robert Winkel (architect/owner of Mei Architecten en Stedenbouwers, Rotterdam), Hans Ibelings (publisher/editor-in-chief of A10 - new European architecture) and Tom Avermaete (architect, associate professor for architecture at the Delft University of Technology). De Smedt is the 13th prize winner, and will be presented the award in November by Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, in his capacity as the chairman of the Rotterdam-Maaskant Foundation. Previous winners include Bureau Zus, Adriaan Geuze, Liesbeth van der Pol (currently chief government architect) and architecture bureau Mecanoo.
There is also a â€˜bigâ€™ Maaskant Prize: an award for the oeuvre of individuals or groups that have made a significant contribution to stimulating the debate on architecture, landscape architecture and urban design by means of publications, teaching or commissioning, for instance. Both prizes were instituted by and named after the Rotterdam architect Hugh Maaskant, who made a significant contribution to the reconstruction of Rotterdam after the Second World War. His designs include the Euromast, the Groot Handelsgebouw and the Hilton Hotel Rotterdam.
Watch the video of a recent lecture of Julien De Smedt at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
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