The Urban Land Institute’s inaugural ULI Europe Awards for Excellence, which recognize outstanding urban development projects in the EMEA region, honor two projects in the Netherlands and one in South Africa.

Three exemplary real estate projects from across the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region have been announced as equal recipients of the inaugural 2020 ULI Europe Awards for Excellence, with another five receiving special mentions. The winners, each of which demonstrate a comprehensive level of quality and a forward-looking approach to development and design, include two projects in the Netherlands and one in South Africa.

A recording of the award presentation is available on Knowledge Finder.

The winning projects, in alphabetical order, are as follows:

  • Circl—a building that became a movement, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Developer: BAM, Bunnik; owner: ABN AMRO; architect: de Architekten Cie): Circl is an exceptional project delivering on the innovative principles of the circular economy. As a first mover, the pavilion has succeeded in bringing together the wide array of sustainable elements in a new movement much needed in the real estate industry. With truly innovative approaches, the broad team of stakeholders behind Circl has delivered consistent and exemplary sustainable solutions around each and every detail of this building, ranging from the architectural design to the landscaping, material use as well as the financial model needed to justify the investment in this new sustainable approach. The building is a true inspiration and continues to engage and educate the wider community, both nationally and internationally, paving the way for more sustainable projects and, maybe more importantly, promoting more corporate social responsibility in the real estate industry.
  • Fenix I, Katendrecht, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (Developer: Heijmans Vastgoed B.V.; owners: Holland Immo Group [parking], APF International [commercial and cultural plinth], Syntrus Achmea Real Estate [rental apartments]; architect: Mei Architects and Planners): Fenix I is an exemplary redevelopment project weaved beautifully into the urban fabric of Rotterdam’s historical waterfront. Built upon a 1922 monumental warehouse, offering a variety of cultural facilities and office spaces, a large steel framework contains 212 apartments that have been designed following an innovative modular system. The variety in size has facilitated a wide mix of residents, from those who required a 40-square-meter(431 sq ft) apartment to those who bought a 300-square-meter (3,200 sq ft) apartment with a water view. The inner courtyard and “balcony-like” access to the apartments promote interaction between residents and create a feeling of community.
  • Victoria Yards, Johannesburg, South Africa (Developer and owner: Brian Green, lead developer and consultant/planner; architect: Boom Architects): Victoria Yards is a unique regeneration project that has risen from the ashes of a derelict industrial site to become an entrepreneurial incubation center providing space at cost to social and artistic enterprises from the neighborhood and beyond. It is an outstanding example of how creative thinking, community engagement, and strong leadership can deliver immediate and evolving commercial, social, and environmentally sustainable developments. Victoria Yards has created a thriving community that is as much about social cohesion and learning as it is a commercial enterprise.

The jury formally recognized five additional projects with special mentions, including the following:

  • EKLA, Brussels, Belgium—Social Value category;
  • The Line, London, United Kingdom—Creative Placemaking/Arts and Culture/Community Engagement category;
  • The Student Hotel (TSH), Florence, Italy—Repurposing category;
  • Triodos Bank – de Reehorst, Utrecht, the Netherlands—Climate Change/Resilience/Sustainability category; and
  • Wohnquartier Guter Freund, Aachen North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany—Affordable Housing category.

This year’s inaugural ULI Europe Awards for Excellence winners were announced as part of a virtual ceremony on October 27, bringing together real estate professionals from around the world, hosted by former BBC correspondent Luisa Baldini. The event featured world-renowned architect Philippe Chiambaretta (founder of PCA-STREAM), who delivered a keynote address on “The City of Tomorrow: Desirable, Inclusive, and Sustainable,” and several members of the jury who presented the winners with their awards and special mentions.

The international jury that selected the winning projects is made up of leading ULI members from all across Europe, representing multidisciplinary real estate expertise, including commercial real estate, finance, architecture, land planning and development, and professional services. The judging panel chaired by Giancarlo Scotti, chairman of GcS& Partners and a former chair of ULI Italy, included Clarissa Alfrink, Avison Young; Germain Aunidas, AXA Investment Managers; Tom Cartledge, Handley House; Theodore Caragionis, Charagionis Group; Sigrid Duhamel, BNP Paribas REIM France; Manfred Guenterberg, Wolfsburg AG; Sophie Henley-Price, STUDIOS Architecture; and Tinka Kleine, PGGM.

“These laudable projects demonstrate what can be achieved with great ambition,” said Scotti. “We believe that they will have a significant positive long-term impact on future real estate projects. These case studies highlight some of the best initiatives around currently, particularly with regard to sustainability, integrating heritage, and involving the community. We believe that they will prove valuable for ULI members and others in the industry to learn from.”

“The ULI Europe Awards for Excellence Virtual Ceremony has been a fantastic opportunity to show off to the world these real estate projects in the EMEA region. The three winners and five special mentions demonstrate the high quality of the submissions, with all eight of them strongly aligning with ULI’s main mission of encouraging responsible land use and development, as well as creating and sustaining thriving communities, with a strong focus on affordable housing, sustainability, and social value and community engagement,” said Marnix Galle, chairman of ULI Europe and executive chairman of Belgian developer Immobel. “This is yet another example of the value that ULI contributes to the industry through the sharing of knowledge and dissemination of best practice.”

ULI Europe CEO Lisette van Doorn commended the high standard of the entries received and said, “The Awards for Excellence program is very important for ULI as it provides recognition for outstanding development projects and initiatives, and the great work of its architects, developers, and investors, which we can all learn from. The diverse range of projects from many different countries demonstrates that our inaugural competition for the region has captured the imagination of the leading players in real estate. Today, during the ceremony, the opening of the 2021 Awards for Excellence was announced. We look forward to receiving more submissions of new projects, which will help the industry to continuously improve on the exceptional developments that we are already seeing.”

The ULI Europe Awards for Excellence recognize superior development efforts across the EMEA region in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. They are a regional extension of the ULI Global Awards for Excellence program, which dates back to 1979. The three winning projects in EMEA this year will automatically be entered into the global awards for 2021. Projects and programs are evaluated on the extent to which they:

  • achieve marketplace acceptance/financial success;
  • achieve a high standard of excellence in all areas—architecture, design, planning, construction, amenities, economics, and management, and so on;
  • demonstrate relevance to the contemporary and future needs of the community in which they are located;
  • have a positive impact in their communities and/or immediate context;
  • exhibit environmental sustainability, stewardship, and resilience; and,
  • provide models, lessons, strategies, or techniques that other communities can replicate or adapt.

For further information about the awards, please visit: https://europe.uli.org/awardsforexcellence/.