The OBEL AWARD jury has selected as its focus for the year the concept of adaptation – how can we adapt our built environment to the challenges of a changing climate?

Architects are faced with the imperative to modify the “business as usual” model if we hope to create environments for people where life can thrive in a constantly changing and often perplexing world.

Each year, the jury establishes a specific focus for the award and invites a select group of experts worldwide to suggest works that comply with both the overriding aim of the award as well as the annual theme. The overriding aim of the OBEL AWARD is to honour recent and outstanding architectural contributions to human development all over the world. Recognising and supporting the ecological and social responsibilities of architecture have been the driving force of the OBEL AWARD since its founding in 2019. With this year’s focus, the OBEL AWARD emphasises its commitment towards architecture that is respectful of both people and planet facing a changing climate.

The 2023 OBEL AWARD ceremony will take place on 21 October 2023.

Excerpt from jury statement

The OBEL AWARD’s emphasis on the ecological and social responsibilities of architecture is now being deepened and expanded through the theme of adaptation.

The permanence of ecosystems, landscapes, and human structures and systems can no longer be taken for granted. Instead, adaptation calls for architecture that confronts uncertainty and acts through time so that both human and non-human life can continue to survive and even thrive.

The 2023 OBEL AWARD is seeking architectural projects from all parts of the world that exemplify adaptation broadly speaking, whether through the consideration of natural systems, technologies, social and cultural needs, and/or economic interests.

Past years’ focuses and winners

2019: Well-being

The jury called for ground-breaking, original architectural solutions that touch our senses and emotions. The winning project was Water Garden in Tochigi, Japan, by Junya Ishigami & Associates.

2020: Mending

The jury called for projects in which architecture has been an active tool for positive change by creatively contributing to the mending of our physical environment. The winning project was Anandaloy in Bangladesh, by Anna Heringer.

2021: Cities

The jury called for works (projects or products) that offer seminal solutions to the challenges facing cities. The winning project was the 15-minute city as defined by Professor Carlos Moreno.

2022: Emissions

The jury called for seminal solutions, which are CO2 neutral, factoring in all embodied emissions. The winning project was Seratech’s solution for zero-emissions concrete.

The 2023 OBEL AWARD jury

With two new jury members welcomed in 2022, the current OBEL AWARD jury consists of:

Martha Schwartz, Chair (founder, Martha Schwartz Partners, USA)

Kjetil Trædal Thorsen
(co-founder, Snöhetta, Norway)

Louis Becker
(design principal and partner, Henning Larsen, Denmark)

Dr Wilhelm Vossenkuhl
(professor emeritus of philosophy, Germany)

XU Tiantian
(founding principal, DnA, Beijing, China)

Aric Chen
(general and artistic director of the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Sumayya Vally
(founder and principal at Counterspace in Johannesburg and London, South Africa and United Kingdom)