After 48 hours of attending an endless round of events at the World Architecture Festival, I have a better sense of how architecture operates. First, it is astonishingly international. Mariana Simas, the Brazilian architect from Sao Paolo with whom I was a judge, was familiar with small local projects, and the architects who had built them, in Vietnam. Second, the geography of influence has tilted strongly towards Asia and Australasia. The Americans seem conspicuous by their absence. Third, architecture as a profession, at least in terms of the bigtime global operators, is predominantly male (look at the line-up of winners), except where it relates to interiors. Fourth (and this is a statement of pure prejudice), much of the most interesting and thoughtful architecture is being done in Australia and New Zealand, both of which have strong and independent national traditions, support their own architects, believe in innovation, and are interested in the relationship between architecture and the natural environment. The winner of the World Building of the Year Award was a21studio for their chapel in Vietnam.
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