Xaveer De Geyter wins 2021 BigMat Grand Prize for Architecture

The Belgian architect has been awarded with the highest honour in this special edition of the biannual prize, marking the 40th anniversary of the BigMat Group. The BigMat International Architecture Award showcases the best of European architecture with over 70,000€ in prizes handed out to seven Finalists, six National Prizes and a 30,000€ worth Grand Prize.

BigMat International Architecture Award ’21 Grand Prize, Melopee School, XDGA – Xaveer De Geyter Architects © Maxime Delvaux

The Melopee School, completed in 2020 by the Belgian architect, follows the Power Plant for the “FOZ TUA” DAM by Souto de Moura, the FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais art center by Lacaton&Vassal, the office building by Alberto Campo Baeza and the Elishout Kitchen Tower Campus by Xaveer De Geyter as Grand Prize of the biannual award. The fifth edition of the BigMat International Architecture Award rewards European architecture with one Grand Prize (30.000€), six National Prizes (5.000€ each prize), seven Finalist Prizes (1.500€ each prize), and one Special Mention for Small-Scale Projects (1.500€ prize).

BigMat International Architecture Award’21 ceremony at Pavillon Cambon, Paris © BigMat

The awards ceremony took place on November 12th at the Pavillon Cambon in Paris, France, in the presence of the architects competing for the Grand Prize, the members of the international panel of judges and the companies making up the BigMat Group. The selected 14 finalists were chosen from the initial selection of 90 participating teams of architects disclosed last July.

Out of a list of more than 1000 projects from 7 European countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Slovakia, Portugal and Spain), the panel of judges chaired by Jesús Aparicio and comprising Adrien Verschuere (Belgium), PavolPaňák (Czech Republic + Slovakia), Alexandre Theriot (France), Nicola di Battista (Italy), Inês Lobo (Portugal + Spain), and awards secretary Jesús Donaire, decided to give the BigMat International Architecture Award’21 to the Melopee School in Ghent, by Belgian architect XDGA – Xaveer De Geyter Architects

Jesús Aparicio, Xaveer De Geyter and Fabrice Maud. BigMat International Architecture Award’21 Ceremony © BigMat

The project by the award-winning architect aims “to offer a notion of centrality to the linear plan developed by O.M.A. in which green open pockets alternate with dense construction […]. In order to counter the lack of space, deal with the inside-outside complexity of programs and allow for the public path to pass, the maximum building envelope is divided in two halves: one compact building housing all interior functions, and an outside space […]. In between both, and under a first level playground realized in glass tiles, the path crosses the volume. A galvanized steel skeleton unifies the two halves. On the side of the interior volume, the façades of the building are designed as a patchwork of opaque and translucent polycarbonate, glass, and aluminium louvres. The outside structure will be overgrown with vegetation climbing along a steel mesh, in which some large ‘windows’ are cut out […]”


The whole of the winning projects is listed below:

BigMat International Architecture Award Grand Prize’21 (30,000 euros)
Melopee School in Ghent, Belgium, by XDGA – Xaveer De Geyter Architects

BigMat International Architecture Award ’21 Grand Prize, Melopea School, XDGA – Xaveer De Geyter Architects © Maxime Delvaux

BigMat National Prize in the Czech Republic’21 (5,000 euros)
Prague Eyes in Prague, Czech Republic, by Petr Janda / Brainwork

PragueEyes, Petr Janda/Brainwork © BoysPlayNice

BigMat National Prize in France’21 (5,000 euros)
Kervalet in Saint Avé, Brittany, France, by Exercice

Kervalet, Exercice © Exercice

BigMat National Prize in Italy’21 (5,000 euros)
Pirelli Learning Center in Milano, Italy, by Onsitestudio srl

Pirelli Learning Center, Onsitestudio srl © Filippo Romano, Helene Binet

BigMat National Prize in Portugal’21 (5,000 euros)
Lisbon Cruise Terminal in Lisbon, Portugal, by Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos

LisbonCruise Terminal, Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos © Fernado Guerra, Rita Burmester, Fábio Azevedo

BigMatNational Prize in Slovakia’21 (5,000 euros)
New Synagogue in Zilina, Slovakia, by PLURAL

New Synagogue, PLURAL © Daniela Dostálková, Katherine Thude

BigMat National Prize in Spain’21 (5,000 euros)
BigMat Special Mention for Small-Scale Projects’21 (1,500 euros)
Casa o Fieiroin Mazaricos, A Coruña, Spain, by Estudio Arturo Franco

Casa O Fieiro, Estudio Arturo Franco © Alfonso Quiroga

BigMat Finalist Prize in Belgium’21 (1.500 euros)
Hangar à Selin Houffalize, Belgium, by GoffartPolomé Architectes

Hangar à Sel, GoffartPolomè Architectes © Antoine Richez

BigMat Finalist Prize in the Czech Republic’21 (1.500 euros)
White Shed in Opatov, Czech Republic, by ATELIER 111 architektis.r.o.

White Shed ATELIER 111 architektis.r.o. © Alex Shoots Buildings

Maillon Theater by LAN (Local Architecture Network)
BigMat Finalist Prize in France’21 (1.500 euros)

Théâtre du Maillon Strasbourg, LAN © Charly Broyez

BigMat Finalist Prize in Italy’21(1.500 euros)
Panta Rei Beach in Pescara, Italy, by Toffoli Architetti

Panta Rei Beach Toffoli Architetti © Iacopo Pasqui

BigMat Finalist Prize in Portugal’21 (1.500 euros)
Bar &Pavilion in Belémin Lisbon, Portugal, by Bak Gordon Arquitectos

Bar & Pavilion in Belém, Bak Gordon Arquitectos © Francisco Nogueira

BigMat Finalist Prize in Slovakia’21 (1.500 euros)
New Park in Leopoldov, Slovakia, by n-1

New Park in Leopoldov, n-1 © JánKekeli (project photos), Jakub Kopec (original state)

BigMat Finalist Prize in Spain’21 (1.500 euros)
Vivienda Sociales in Cornellà de Llobregat, by Peris + Toral Architectes

Viviendas Sociales en Cornellà, Peris + Toral Architectes © José Hevia

BigMat Honorific Special Mention’21
TOIT & MOI in Ghlin, Belgium, by Matador

BigMat Honorific Special Mention’21
Enrico Fermi School in Torino, Italy, by BDR Bureau

BigMat Honorific Special Mention’21
Mies Missing Materiality in Barcelona, Spain, by Anna &Eugeni Bach