German Construction Gazette [db - Deutsche Bauzeitung] is one of the oldest and most respected architectural magazines in Europe. Its feature is equal attention to both architecture and technical and technological problems of construction. Therefore, the award given by db recognizes those buildings where the close and fruitful cooperation between architects and engineers is especially evident.
This year the bureau "HG Merz Architectin" and the firm "IGB Ingenieurgruppe" became laureates for the memorial in the former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen "Station Z" (1998 - 2005).
The original "Station Z" is a complex of a crematorium, gas chamber and execution wall, built in 1942 and demolished by the militarized People's Police in 1952-1953. In 1961, the remains of its foundations were incorporated into the memorial ensemble and covered with a roof. But by the end of the 1990s, this building fell into disrepair, and the need arose to build a new complex.
The project "KhG Merz Architectin" envisages covering the ruins with translucent plexiglass panels, which create a feeling of weightlessness. The jury of the award appreciated the subtlety and caution of architects' handling of a historical monument, their rejection of traditional means and techniques. An exhibition space is formed inside this shell, which can also be used for funeral social events. It is illuminated only by sunlight penetrating through the walls.
For the first time, the Balthasar Neumann Prize includes this year a list of “honorary” laureates, including Lord Foster and Michel Virloggue for the Millau viaduct in southern France, and Peter Eisenman and "Happold Ingenieur GmbH" for the Memorial to the Destroyed Jews reached the final of the award Europe.
The presentation of the award will take place on May 26, 2006 in Würzburg, at the bishop's residence, built by Balthasar Neumann in 1719-1753.