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International Architecture's A-list Compete for GOe Building

07 February 2022

3xn (Denmark), BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) (Denmark), OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) (Netherlands), Snøhetta (Norway), and Toyo Ito & Associates (Japan) are the architecture firms shortlisted for the GOe - Gastronomy Open Ecosystem - project. These internationally renowned brands constitute architecture’s avant-guard, including Toyo Ito and Rem Koolhaas (OMA), both winners of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s most prestigious international distinction. Each studio will propose a project that tackles the needs of GOe. The winner will be announced in May 2022.

GOe - Gastronomy Open Ecosystem is a project that integrates science and gastronomy whose mission is to create a gastronomic ecosystem focused on research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This space will be focused on attracting and developing leading talent and businesses. The concept behind GOe is to provide a space that is open to the city: inviting citizens to actively participate in its activities and events. The goal is to create an urban innovation district that coexist harmoniously with surroundings and will blossom into a point of reference and attraction.

Las year, the Basque Culinary Centers board of trustees, which consists of chefs, public institutions, private companies, and higher education and research entities, approved the project and its timeline, which is now coming into fruition. GOe has been made possible thanks to an inter-institutional agreement among various entities. GOe is one of the activating agents for The Food Global Ecosystem public-private strategy created by the Basque Government. The Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the Donostia-San Sebastián City Council participate in GOe by incorporating this project into their strategic plans.

International Architecture Competition

In order to choose the best possible solution for the construction of the GOe building from the many excellent proposals based on sustainability, functional, technological, environmental and aesthetic perspectives, we launched an international architecture competition in December 2021. This competition is designed to select the architectural proposal that best reflects the initiative’s vision, as well as its goal of becoming a landmark in the city.

The objective of such an architecture project is to create an open and unique space that will serve to attract post-graduate, entrepreneurial, and research talent. Sustainability stands out as one of our core values ​​and an essential cornerstone of this future building. This building must integrate itself into the urban landscape in an organic and, above all, participatory relationship with its immediate surroundings.



After receiving and evaluating a great number of proposals, five finalists have been selected to continue into the next phase of the competition. The jury selected the finalists based on verified examples of completed new constructions or rehabilitated buildings designed for innovation development; that is spaces for experimentation, research, technological development, and education – all with sustainability and landscape as key values.

3XN (Denmark)

The so-called father of contemporary Scandinavian architecture, 3XN is an architectural practice with headquarters in Copenhagen and offices in Stockholm, New York, Sydney, and London. According to their philosophy, architecture shapes behaviour; and their work explores how to enrich the lives and world of the people who live and work in and around their creations. 3XN is founded on the conviction that buildings are more than the sum of their parts; so their team never ceases in their pursuit of synthesis among design, function, and context.

Their work defies convention while advancing the Scandinavian tradition of clear functionality and simple beauty. Their portfolio boasts projects such as The Arch Cultural Center, 2012 (Norway); Ørestad College, 2007 (Denmark); Grognon, 2021 (Belgium); and the Klimatorium in Lemvig, 2020 (Denmark). These projects all strive to integrate the local environment.

BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) (Denmark)

Comprised by a group of architects, designers, urban planners, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, researchers, and inventors, and with Bjarke Ingels at the helm, BIG is the enfant terrible of architecture’s international scene. With locations in Copenhagen, New York, London, and Barcelona, ​​the firm is currently involved in a wide range of projects across Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. BIG's approach emerges from a close analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes. The influences of multicultural exchange, global economic flows, and communication technology combine to call for new forms of architectural and urban organization.

To rise to the challenges of today’s society, architecture must venture into unchartered territory, and BIG proposes a utopian architecture that shuns the pragmatism of dull box shapes and the naive ideas of digital formalism. Instead, it creates architecture by playing with and combining conventional ingredients such as daily life, leisure, work, parking, and shopping. Its projects include the TIRPITZ Museum, 2017 (Denmark); 79&Park Apartments, 2018 (Sweden); Energy Plant and Urban Recreation Center, 2019 (Denmark); and Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium, 2014 (Sweden).

OMA. Office of Metropolitan Architecture (Netherlands)

OMA is an international practice that operates within the traditional boundaries of architecture, urban planning, and cultural analysis, while also expanding its work through AMO, a research and design studio that applies architectural thinking to domains beyond pure architecture.

This research and design studio was founded by Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner Rem Koolhaas, and is now run by a team of seven partners (Reinier de Graaf, Ellen van Loon, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka, Chris van Duijn, Jason Long, and managing partner and architect David Gianotten). It has offices in Rotterdam, New York, Hong Kong, Doha, and Australia. OMA's buildings and urban projects span across the globe and are based on intelligent approaches, while also proposing new possibilities for content and use.  Some buildings designed by OMA currently under construction are the Taipei Performing Arts Center (Taiwan), the renovation of Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) in Berlin (Germany), The Factory in Manchester (UK), and the CMG Qianhai Global Trade Center in Shenzhen (China). Their completed structures include the Seattle Central Library, 2004 (Netherlands); RIJNSTRAAT 8, 2017 (Netherlands); BLOX, home of the Danish Architecture Centre (DAC), 2018 (Denmark); and TENCENT Headquarters, 2020 (China).

Snøhetta (Norway)

Founded over thirty years ago, this Norwegian firm preaches a message that goes beyond the purely functional or aesthetic. Its projects forge and foster strong bonds between people, buildings, and landscape. It started out as a collaborative architecture and landscape workshop and since its inception has remained true to its trans-disciplinary way of thinking. Its work strives to enhance our sense of surroundings, identity, and relationships with others and the physical spaces we inhabit - wild and human-made.

Today, Snøhetta has evolved into an internationally renowned architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture, product, graphic, digital design, and art studio, with 280 employees hailing from over thirty different countries and equitable gender distribution. Museums, products, reindeer observatories, graphics, landscapes, and dollhouses all receive the same dedication and attention to purpose. Snøhetta makes the most of collective intuitions to nurture its multifocal activities: which range from graphics to the conception of complex cultural and landscape infrastructures.

Toyo Ito & Associates (Japan)

Toyo Ito is one of the world’s most innovative and influential architects at present. Born in Seoul in 1941, he graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1965 and then began working for Kiyonori Kikutake Architect and Associates. He later founded his own practice in Tokyo called Urban Robot (URBOT), which changed its name in 1979 to Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects. Winner of the 2013 Pritzker Prize, this indisputable and fast-rising icon of contemporary architecture began his career in Japan; and from there his conceptual work has gone on to conquer the globe. His success is undoubtedly thanks to the highly unique style that characterizes each and every one of his projects. His buildings can be found in Paris, Hannover, London, Barcelona, ​​and more.  Some of his earliest projects were the Silver Hut house and the furniture of Tokyo Nomad Woman, located in Nakano-ku, Tokyo.

Through this work, he explored the physical image of the city in the digital age, based on the premise of minimalist lines and conceptual lightness. Physical space also functions to provide access to the space and virtual spaces. His most impactful work, the Sendai Mediatheque explores present-day structures for knowledge production and connection. This form aims for structural integration, with an original approach to vertical columns, which have a plant-like appearance in an aquatic environment. For Toyo Ito, the beautiful discipline of architecture is an integral part of his life. His creations include icons of contemporary construction: such as the aforementioned Sendai Mediatheque, 1995-2001, (Japan); the Tama University Library, 2007 (Japan); the Torre Realia - also known as Torres Fira, 2009 (Spain); the Taichung Metropolitan Opera, 2014 (Taiwan); and the Museo Internacional de Barroco, 2014 (Mexico).   


Selection criteria

During the first phase of the competition, the jury selected five finalists based on the criteria outlined in the competition rules. The future GOe building must provide the best solution possible and interact with the immediate urban surroundings fostering accessibility and communication with the social, cultural, and economic flow of the city.


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