This year Murtada Alkaabi, architect at KCAP, was part of the BNA jury selecting buildings that focused their design on the added value that the building brings to people and society. As Murtada explains: "We were interested in designs that go beyond beautiful visual architecture."

Is a building a sum of beautiful details and materials? Or is architecture more than just materials and components?" Murtada shares his thoughts about the meaning of Architecture.

“Looking back to the jury during the BNA Best Building of 2021, I can say it was a fantastic experience for a young architect. I learned a lot from the different projects, jury colleagues, architects, and clients. Reading and visiting all these projects helped me as a young architect to understand much better what makes a good building and what kind of added value our designs and projects can have. The only issue I saw is that this added value is not self-evident. It's a pity that you still experience that we, as architects, sometimes focus more on the exterior look of our building to create an icon for PR purposes. We sometimes forget that we design for people.

In my view, contemporary architecture sometimes has become entangled in a functionalist belief of standardized architecture. It seems like that all users are the same. That means we forget the importance of added value that buildings can bring to diverse people and society, so architecture serves the user.

It is interesting to see how the media or people reacted to the winners of BNA best building 2021. Calling the winner(s) as SURPRISE. It shows that sometimes we look too shortsighted at architecture and judge buildings on the type of client or architectural appearance. We forget that architecture is more than just concrete, glass, and steel or mere appearance. A good building looks good, has good detailing, and creates spaces that stimulate self-expression, diversity, community, and sustainability.

In my opinion, the winners of BNA Best Building of 2021 represent buildings that directly and effectively impact people and society and, of course, a far-sighted commissioner. Without a good and brave client and creative & out-of-the-box thinking architect, these projects were not possible. The awarded projects are buildings where the architecture serves the users.

My advice to young architects: don't just look at the outward architectural appearance of buildings but seek the added value of the architecture. Get inspired through its architectural and user experience.”

The Winner of the "Best Building of the Year 2021" is Van der Valk Hotel Amsterdam Zuidas. You can find all the details in the jury rapport if you want to know more. 

Photography by KUMPANY