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3 Award Winning World Architecture Festival Projects

In episode 20 of Think Big Podcast, I share three award-winning projects from the World Architecture Festival using persuasive language examples from episode 19. The episode is full of vocabulary to describe buildings, houses, and landscape architecture projects and persuasive language techniques to inspire and convince you to find out more.

In the episode, we discuss:

✨ 3 Award-Winning World Architecture Festival Projects

✨ Why I believe you should find out more about these projects

✨ Real Business English examples for architecture and design that you can use at work or university.

Recommended Episodes:

Episode 19: 9 Effective Persuasive Language Techniques Architects Can Use to Convince an Audience

Episode 3: How to Use Storytelling to Connect to your Clients with Fiona Dunin FMD Architects

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull


Want more examples of practical language for architects? Check out our planner below.


A list of all the resources we discussed in the episode:



📝 ArchDaily Articles

📝 List of World Architecture Festival Award Winners

📝 Scion Innovation Hub

📝 Coopworth House

📝 Sanya Mangrove Park - Turenscape


📚 Letter's to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City.


keep an eye out- lookout for something with particular attention

keep up - move or progress at the same rate as someone or something else.

hybrid - a thing made by combining two different elements.


exemplary - a desirable model, excellent, very good.

takes something seriously - regard someone or something as important and worthy of attention.

replicable - able to be copied or reproduced exactly.

cutting-edge - the latest or most advanced stage in the development of something.

draws inspiration from something - takes inspiration from something

cut and fill - /cut - remove soil / fill to add soil

riparian - the edge between the sea and the river

environmental service - natural processes

bogged down in something - stuck doing something

Advanced Vocabulary Extra: lookout for what clauses to emphasise the point

What is a what clause?

A what clause is a type of noun clause that begins with the word what.

One beneficial function of a what clause is to shift a reader or listener's attention to a specific part of a sentence. What clauses can also be used to add emphasis and rhythm. "We can use a clause beginning with what to give extra power. "We can ... use a what-clause followed by be to focus attention on specific information in a sentence (= another form of a cleft sentence). This pattern is particularly common in conversation. The information we want to focus attention on is outside the what-clause. Have a look at these examples and compare:

  • We gave them the drawings, and a 3D model.

  • What we gave them were the drawings and a 3D model.

We often use a what clause if we want to introduce a new topic; to give a reason, instruction, or explanation; or to correct something that has been said or done. In the case of many of my clients, I would say it's particularly useful for giving instructions to someone if you lead a team or emphasise something important with the client. In the following examples, the information in focus is in italics:

  • What I'd like you to work on is the new project we received yesterday.

  • 'We've only got time next week, will that work?' 'No, what I was looking for was sa meeting next week'


Note: this is not a word for word transcript


Hello, big thinkers, and welcome to episode 20 of Think Big English for architects. The last episode of the year!

I'm your host, Tara Cull, Australian language teacher/coach and landscape architect. And I'm bringing all these things together to help you build more outstanding communication skills.

If English is your second language and you're an architect, landscape architect, interior designer, student, or work in the built environment, you're in the right place.

To find out more about my coaching programmes, go to

And as always, you'll find the free transcript with key vocabulary, grammar points and expressions at

Today we'll be talking about three of the worth award-winning projects from the World Architecture Festival. I've put some extra information in the vocabulary notes for this episode to keep an eye out for how I use 'what clauses to emphasise specific points in this episode.

Let me first ask you, how much notice do you take about what's happening in the world of architecture and design? Do you follow awards, articles or news in the industry?

It can be hard to keep up! You might also feel like there is no relevance for helping you feel more confident with your language skills, but today I'm going to show you how it should be a big part of your journey to improving your language skills.

For the past year, I've had ArchDaily saved in my bookmarks, and I check it daily to search for interesting articles and examples of language I can share with my clients. I take 5-10 minutes to scan through and read a few articles. Each time I do, I realise how much useful language you can take from just one article or even by watching a video or listening to a podcast! It's one of the best ways to learn in context! For me, what's important is not just that you read and speak the language but to also think. I try to encourage my clients to read and think about what they are reading because, after all, we have to share our opinions so often when speaking to clients and colleagues. We have to also keep up with emerging technologies, design ideas and trends.

This is backed up in research too! Dr Jared Harveth is an education neuroscientist at The University of Melbourne. According to him, there are three crucial things when it comes to remembering important information:

  • Repetition

  • Focus - making links between what we already know and what we want to learn

  • Deep Learning and covert activation, which I'll talk about in another episode.

Deep learning is what I've spoken about earlier in the podcast, extending your knowledge and learning through critical thinking. For me, it's the key to developing a richer vocabulary.

On the 9th of December, I was delighted to read in ArchDaily about the World Architecture Festival winners that our guest from Episode 3, Fiona Dunin, had won an award for her practices project Coopworth house. So it was the inspiration for today's episode. I'll share three award-winning projects from different categories 2 in architecture and one landscape architecture project.

Why today's topic?

To help you grow your confidence to explain your ideas, decisions and choices.

I also want to encourage you to read as much as possible, and articles from Archdaily are a great start because they also have links to materials and suppliers.

My suggestion is - don't just read the article - pull it apart!

Don't just circle words but phrases and ways to describe materials and processes.

Go much deeper! You can use tools like Reverso Context to save words and phrases or common collocations or write these examples in your vocabulary diary.

What are the World Architecture Festival awards?

The World Architecture Festival is the world's largest international architectural event.

This year the event was hosted online, and in 2022 it will be hosted as a hybrid online and in-person conference from Lisbon, Portugal.

Chosen from almost 500 shortlisted projects from 62 countries, the winning projects reflect this year's theme: 'Resetting the City: Greening, Health and Urbanism'.

In addition to the various categories, Copenhill, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, was awarded the 2021 World Building, while SLA was awarded Landscape of the Year for its design of Al Fay Park.

Many projects receive awards at the World Architecture Festival across several categories, including office buildings, hotels, college campuses, museums, hospitals, apartment buildings, industrial buildings, and waterfront revitalisation projects. These are all projects with impressive designs by well-known architectural practices worldwide.

This year, the winning projects include a capsule hotel in China, a tennis arena in Australia, a train station in the United States, and a waterfront project in Russia.

In today's episode, I'll share 3 of my favourite projects: from 3 different categories:

1. Higher Education and Research

2. House and Villa; and

3. Landscape architecture

I'll discuss why I choose these projects to share, key features and why I believe they are exemplary examples that you should know. I acknowledge that I form my opinions through the lens of a landscape architect from Australia, so many of these projects strongly resonate with my attitude to sustainability and connecting projects to stories and local context based on my cultural understandings.

What I hope is that you feel inspired to find out more!

Project 1 - Scion Innovation Hub by RTA Studio + Irving Smith Architects in Rotorua, New Zealand.

We need to consider innovative ways to use materials if we want to be seen as a designer who takes sustainability seriously. This first award-winning project I want to share with you is an excellent example of just that.

Why did I choose this project?

The architects drew inspiration from the local context because they believed in the importance of connecting architecture to stories.

How can a research institute with a drive to innovate and provide growth in the forest industry really demonstrate its mission? Through its actions!

Scion is a research institute for research, science and technology development for forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors. It's no accident that the design explores innovative technology since the company mission is to drive innovation and growth within the industry.

Firstly, what I find most inspiring is the connection to this story, and the company drive is immediately apparent at the front entrance, which features a trio (3) of peaks constructed with glulam timber. It represents the three local tribes - connecting to both stories and the company mission.

In this project, the simple triangle form we see at the entrance has long been used as a simple symbol for trees and timber, but for me, it represents pride, strength and signifies entry.

What is glulam?

Glulam, short for glued laminated timber, is an engineered wood product manufactured by gluing together pieces of timber or wood, known as laminates. This process produces larger size and longer members, which can be curved or straight. An advantage of this material is the increased strength due to the laminating process - glulam is more robust than solid timber as it has fewer natural defects and wider distribution. This also means that we can produce much larger pieces of timber than would otherwise be possible with traditional solid sawn timber. It is also comparable to steel in strength but is much lighter: I've specified and used this timber material successfully in playground projects and pergolas in recreation reserves.

While many other shortlisted projects in the category showed innovative use of materials, I consider this example hard to beat, considering it also won the best use of certified timber at the festival of Lisbon.

It's no surprise that this project caught the judges attention, seeing it as a prototype for using new timber technologies. I find this project especially interesting because of the feature dovetail node joints that allow for quick, robust, elegant and replicable construction.

What is a dovetail connection?

Dovetail joints have been used for thousands of years in timber construction. Dovetail joints were the only way to connect pieces of wood before the invention of modern steel fasteners and adhesives, so it's no surprise the building celebrates this essential timber detail.

What is a structural diagrid?

What caught my attention in this project was the three-story diagrid. A diagrid is a framework of diagonally intersecting metal, concrete, or wooden beams used in the construction of buildings, roofs and, in this case, walls. It allows maximum strength while using fewer materials.

Not only does it celebrate the engineered details, but it allows the space to become open, exposing collaborative spaces and the central atrium.

The advantage of a diagrid is that it allows freedom of the shape design, which is also transparent. Higher internal space allows more open space and the most robust structure possible with material savings.

Scion Innovation Hub Timber Vocabulary

You'll find sketches of these details in the archdaily article and a simple diagram in the show notes, and I encourage you as a vocabulary-building exercise to think about what makes this detail so cutting-edge and essential to the success of the project. How could you adopt a similar detail in your projects?

For me, this project is an exemplary example of the collaboration between the architect, client and structural engineer and the client to portray a strong business message through the image that the building represents. That, for me, is an essential aspect of connecting clients with the architect and the world beyond.

Project 2 - Coopworth House FMD Architects

Just as we saw in the first example, The Coopworth House by FMD Architects is another example of a project that celebrates and considers the local context. However, it's a modern interpretation of a typical farmhouse.

Why did I choose this project?

Firstly, it was the inspiration for this episode after reading that our guest from Episode 3 had won an award. The house also draws inspiration from the Australian landscape and architectural vernacular, so I felt nostalgic for home and wanted to share it with you.

What I admire most about The Coopworth House are the materials that the architects choose to celebrate; and the sustainable features throughout the house:

  • Corrugated steel in rusty colours mirrors the surrounding landscape.

  • Interior plywood panels which were sourced locally

  • Bricks are not just used for the exterior skin of the building but also for the interior bathroom, which takes the form of a chimney stack that pays homage to the stacks you see throughout the surrounding landscape.

  • The skin of the building is a mix of floor to ceiling window walls; corrugated steel and brick are used for details.

  • What is also interesting is the roof has no gutters. Instead, the rain runs off into trenches or flat pebbles swales in the landscape. If it were me working on this project, I perhaps would have included more landscape elements in the design to make it look more natural and for the rocks to blend in.

  • Polished concrete floors

  • A large solar array (a group of solar panels) and water tanks on the nearby farm sheds provide self-sustaining water and power supply, and a slow combustion wood fire is the primary source of heating in the house. Additionally, the slow combustion wood fire breaks up the dining area from the lounge room space.

The three most outstanding parts of the design for me are:

  • The clever use of the local Coopworth wool to insulate the roof which is exposed in the living area; and

  • The frameless glazed window wall on the northern boundary with spaces for sitting directly next to the windows. UV heat and radiation are absorbed by the 'internal eave' of day beds in peak summer. Given that the windows are pushed right to the outer edge of the floor plate, we sense that every inch of the space was used. When one sits within the window niches, they feel immersed within the landscape, together with the concrete floors; these two features and operable ventilation panels and ceiling fans effectively moderate temperatures within the house.

  • Triangular shaped roof windows as vertical triangular windows punctuate the corrugated roof. They allow a generous amount of natural light to stream through the house.

Project 3 - Sanya Mangrove Park - Turenscape

The final project, a landscape project, is an exciting possibility in the world of landscape architecture and demonstrates the critical role landscape architects play in shaping the future of our environments.

Top Landscape Architecture firm Turenscape has undoubtedly earned its label for being one of the most successful practices in China. Kongjian Yu, the founder of Turenscape, wrote a book published in 2018 - Letter's to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City. I recently bought it and started reading it. He argues against large-scale hydro-engineering projects that have damaged China's environment in the book. I choose to speak about this project as Sanya Mangrove Park because I consider it a perfect example that exemplifies Kongjians argument since years of development, pollution and concrete floodwalls killed critical mangrove environments.

Why is this project important?

Unlike a typical concrete drain or large culvert, when we restore an environment to its natural form while also considering the need for human recreation, we have the opportunity to overcome significant environmental challenges.

Some of the key features of the design

1. Balancing the Cut and Fill

One way to reduce the amount of earthwork is to balance the amount of cut (removal of soil) with the amount of fill (addition of soil).

Cut and fill (removal and addition of soil).

The project made use of onsite materials to create riparian habitats (interface between land, river or stream).

2. Landforms

The landscape architects considered the local weather by designing landforms that can mitigate (make something terrible less severe) the impacts of tropical floods and, at the same time, create niche habitats.

3. Terraces and Bioswales

What is most interesting to me is the idea of creating landforms and elements that both provide an environmental service (filtrate stormwater and provide habitat). Still, on the other hand, the landforms also offer opportunities to facilitate spaces for human recreation. There is a 9m drop from the adjacent road to the landscape. The terraces make use of this 9-meter drop from the arterial highway to the water level, and the landscape architects designed a network of pedestrian passageways following the landform. Five concrete pavilions are strategically allocated to allow visitors to enjoy the beauty and provide shelter, shading and bird watching.

If you're wondering why they're made of concrete - the material they are trying to replace - The project team designed the modulated concrete shelters to resist intense tropical storms. The twisted form allows them also to be used as bird shelters.

This project represents the essence of the balance that one must consider when approaching a landscape project and the question we must ask - how do we balance the environment with the needs of people.

We have to get people excited, motivated and enthusiastic to spend time in these places, which is why design that allows for human interaction plays an equally important role in creating landscape spaces with an ecological requirement.


In summary, these three projects have reminded me that while we might spend a lot of our days thinking about the practicalities of day-to-day jobs, it's important to remember why these projects are important because they relate to the broader context. It's easy to be bogged down (stuck) in tedious, mundane tasks, but it's also important to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. I learn so much from reading articles - new books, new projects, new ways of seeing things, and I enjoy my opinions and ideas being challenged!

I hope today's episode has inspired you to find out more, read more and dig deeper into the world around you rather than look at the pretty pictures.


That brings us to the end of this episode and the last episode of the year!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following along this year. 2022 promises to be even better than this year!

As always, thanks for listening to The Think Big Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, make sure you subscribe for more [english tips for architects] and share with someone else who might find it helpful.

Remember that you can find the free podcast transcript with key vocab, grammar points and useful expressions at Until next YEAR!

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Have any questions about anything you've heard in today's episode? Send me an email.

Want to uplevel your communication skills to present your projects with more confidence? Find out more about my 1:1 & coaching programs. Find more examples to help you feel more prepared in our Coaching Guide, Planner and Language Guides.

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