STAR Wins FIRST PRIZE in Mirador del Palmeral

July 17, 2009

STAR has won the first prize in the International Competition Mirador del Palmeral in Elche, Spain.
STAR was one of two teams selected from the first phase of the public competition to participate in the second phase with five renowned invited offices: MVRDV, SANAA, Ábalos + Sentkiewicz, Torres& La Peña, Foster & Partners.
The presentation of the second phase took part last June 4 in Elche in front of a big jury composed of: Bjarke Ingels, Carme Pinós, Manuel Ocaña, Beth Galí, members of the City Council, and Alejandro Soler, the Mayor of Elche.
The development of this competition brief was the ultimate proof for us that architectural thinking is stronger than even architecture itself.
A single wheel, as the only feasible response to the requirements of the competition, won over some of the best architects in the world. The strategy of the project, materialized by a simple object, convinced a jury of renown, consisting of professionals and the City Mayor (who became one of its strongest supporters), that strategies more than shapes provide the best solutions.
‘The Wheel’ unleashed a fierce debate in the architecture community because it was not deemed to be ‘architecture’. But what is and what isn’t architecture? Even assuming that it isn’t architecture, what is bad about that?

The Mayor of Elche organized the competition with the requirement that the project should “provide the city with an EMBLEMATIC element to contemplate and promote the Palmeral of Elche” (quote from the competition brief). This raised the challenge of designing a humble icon, which is a true oxymoron. How to design an icon with the purpose of diverting attention towards something else?

We proposed a wheel for Elche. The wheel is a strategy. The wheel is resistant to fashion, style, and time. Its assembly is completely reversible and therefore the wheel has no permanent impact on the points where it touches the ground. As the wheel does not consume the total budget, we can also invest in the creation of adjacent public spaces. The wheel is an intelligent and rational structure; representative and beautiful, powerful and transparent.
The Wheel is the perfect union between FORM and FUNCTION.