Architects for Urbanity (AfU) is a Rotterdam-based collaborative design and research office founded in 2015 by Irgen Salianji, Karolina Szóstkiewicz and Marina Kounavi. AfU’s work focuses on the analysis and design of cultural and mix-use buildings, as well as the research of the urban qualities that drive our contemporary cities.
The office covers a wide range of expertise; from interior design and architecture up to urban and landscape design. Among the ongoing projects of the office, the new Varna Regional Library is being further developed to be delivered by 2020, a project that was awarded the first price in the respective international competition. The office is also developing several housing projects in the Netherlands and Albania and is currently completing a book about the urban transformation of Tirana, to be published in 2019 by the Architectural Publisher B in Copenhagen.
In 2017 AfU won a shared 1st prize for the Wonen in Winkels competition of Gemeente Rotterdam, in 2015 the office was short-listed and completed the second phase of the international competition to design the new Bauhaus museum in Dessau. Other competition projects of the office include the new Women and Family Complex in Seoul and the renovation of the Town Hall building of Prague district 7 in 2016, the Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki and the redesign of Freedom Square in Thessaloniki in 2014, the Visitors’ Center SNCC in Athens and the finalist Trimo Urban Crash competition in Ljubljana in 2013, a Bioclimatic School in Creta and Porifera Central Library in Helsinki in 2012, as well as the Metro Station 20 in Sofia in 2011 and the Solar Park South in Reggio Calabria in 2010.
The current AfU team includes Irgen Salianji, Karolina Szóstkiewicz, Marina Kounavi, Ferdjan van der Pijl, Marialena Kasimidi, Harris Vamvakas and Tatiana Zoumpoulaki.
Irgen Salianji is an Architect Engineer and a researcher on issues regarding politics, contemporary culture and urbanity. He is a graduate of the Department of Architecture Engineering (2014), University of Thessaly in Greece and Facolta di Architettura (2010-11), UNIRC in Italy.
His professional experience includes collaborations with Mecanoo, Shift a+u and OMA_Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam. His academic involvement includes invited assistant positions in Design Studios at the Department of Architecture Engineering UTH in Greece.
He has been honored in several international architecture competitions such as the New Bauhaus Museum in Dessau (2015 shortlisted project) and the new Varna Regional Library (1st prize winner 2015). Other major competition projects include the Guggenheim Helsinki Museum/ Finland 2014/, PORIFERA Helsinki Library/ Finland 2012, Bioclimatic School in Creta/ Greece 2012, Sofia Metro Station 20/ Bulgaria and Solar Park South/ Italy 2010.
Karolina Szóstkiewicz is an Architect Engineer and an Urban Designer. She is a graduate of the Department of Architecture Engineering (2010), Warsaw University of Technology in Poland and UNIRC Facolta di Architettura (2010-11). In 2013 she recieved her Master Diploma in Architecture and Urban Planning from Politechnika Lubelska in Poland.
Her professional experience includes collaborations with MVRDV and Monolab Architects in Rotterdam, as well as Kengo Kuma and Associates in Tokyo.
She has been awarded in international competitions, such as the New Bauhaus Museum in Dessau (shortlisted project 2015) and the new Varna Regional Library (1st prize winner 2015). She is qualified in topics concerning the Energy Performance of Buildings.
Marina Kounavi is a registered Architect and Landscape Architect. She is a graduate of the University of Patras in Greece and TU Delft in the Netherlands.
Her professional experience includes collaborations with Mecanoo and Loop Landscape & Architecture Design in Rotterdam.
She has been awarded in international competitions, such as the New Bauhaus Museum in Dessau (shortlisted project 2015) and the new Varna Regional Library (1st prize winner 2015).
Ferdjan van der Pijl is a Senior Architect with strong professional experience and technical expertise in the Dutch construction market and abroad.
Marialena Kasimidi is a young architect with multiple international experience in academic and professional level from Greece, UK and The Netherlands, that shaped her strong interest in adaptive reuse and place making.
Following her architectural studies in Greece (2010), Marialena moved to London, where she worked for two years as an architect at Ash Sakula and Burrell Foley Fischer Architects. During that time she was engaged in bottom-up regeneration and temporary use projects, which resulted in broadening her skills and attitude towards adaptive design. Building on this experience, she specialized in Transformation and Reuse during her Master’s at Delft University of Technology (2015). Her interest in sustainable approaches for buildings and cities was further developed during her work in the field of participatory design and planning in Rotterdam, at WeLoveTheCity.
Working closely with clients in complex projects in the Netherlands was a great chance to experience design in practice and get a broader understanding of architecture within the current Dutch social and market challenges. Together with Architects for Urbanity, Marialena was recently selected to transform empty shops into houses for the “Wonen in Winkels” initiative of the Rotterdam municipality.
INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION PROJECTS LIST:
2017- Souda Bay Terminal Station, Crete, Greece - 2nd prize competition winner
- Hybrid City / Sluisbuurt Amsterdam - Europan - 3rd place
- Cyprus Museum, Nicosia, Cyprus
- Wonen in Winkels, Rotterdam, The Netherlands - 1st prize competition winner
- Seoul Art Complex, Seoul, South Korea
- Seoul Urban Womb Women and Family Complex, Seoul, South Korea
- New Town Hall Prague District 7, Prague, Czech Republic
- Cyprus Pavilion for Venice Biennale 2016, Venice, Italy
- Varna Regional Library 'Pencho Slaveykov' - 1st prize competition winner
- Bauhaus Museum, Dessau, Germany - shortlisted project
- British Pavilion for Venice Biennale 2016, Venice, Italy
- GUGGENHEIM Helsinki Museum, Helsinki, Finland
- 'INTERWAVING' Redesign of Freedom Square, Thessaloniki, Greece
- SPATIAL WOMB Visitors' Center SNCC, Athens, Greece
- ACT[IN]CONTAINES Trimo Urban Crash, Ljubljana, Slovenia - finalist
- 'INVERTED NATURE' Cruise Hyperdock, Geiranger, Norway
- Bioclimatic School in Creta, Herakleion, Greece
- Porifera Central Library, Helsinki, Finland
- Metro Station 20, Sofia, Bulgaria
- Trimo Urban Crash, Ljubljana, Slovenia - finalist
- PanAmerican Olympic Games 2015 Closing Ceremony Pavilion, Torondo, Canada
- Solar Park South, Reggio Calabria, Italy
- Peireus Tower 'changing the facade', Peireus, Greece
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