The deep, steep slopes of the North Saskatchewan River Valley are intrinsic to its beauty and character, but they also make access difficult for people with mobility challenges. An unfortunate network of roadways cuts off the north riverbank and downtown Edmonton from the valley and its trail system. The Mechanized River Valley Access, often called the Edmonton Funicular, was imagined to address this connectivity challenge.
More than an infrastructure and accessibility project, the funicular is defined by its emphasis on placemaking and improvement of the public realm. It allows Edmontonians to become tourists in their own backyard. Descending into the river valley is an engaging, multi-dimensional experience for people of all abilities, from families with small children, runners, and cyclists to commuters and seniors.
Founded in 2005, the International Architecture Awards, organized by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, is one of the oldest, annual public celebrations of global architecture.
“Following a rigorous process from a record number of international submissions, this year’s shortlist of 350 projects highlights the amazing work done by the talented architecture visionaries whose talent and innovation have created talking points that will span generations,” says Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, museum president, the Chicago Athenaeum. “The projects on the shortlist were judged against a range of criteria including design vision, innovation and originality, capacity to stimulate, engage, and delight occupants and visitors, accessibility and sustainability, how fit the building is for its purpose, and the level of client satisfaction.”
This year’s selected buildings are from 41 nations, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, México, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Republic of Singapore, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Faro Islands, Netherlands, Philippines, Vietnam, United Kingdom, and United States.