Veronika Valk, the Estonian architect, has won her country’s Young Architect Award 2012, a competition held annually by Union of Estonian Architects with the support of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia to encourage innovative and creative thinking by young architects. This accolade recognizes her diverse, original and bold activities in the field of architecture, extending from the design of built work to teaching, activism, the generation of international cultural programmes and public discussions, and media campaigning. The judges praised Valk’s high creativity and proactivity across such a wide range of sectors of activity, an example of boldness giving hope to Estonia.
‘When we recall the Award recipients to date, their creative work is confirmation to me of an important observation: in Estonia, one can also do great things in the early stages of one’s creative journey, and one need not toil for decades to be able to come to the fore. This an advantage for us and for you. This is the advantage of a small nation’, said Toomas Hendrik, President of the Republic of Estonia, at the formal award ceremony on 14 February 2013 at the general meeting of the Union.
‘The Young Architect Award is an extremely big inspiration for a young architect, and this acknowledgment is truly a great honour for me’, said Valk in her acceptance speech. Her built design work includes the annex to the Suure-Jaani Upper Secondary School, the conversion of the Lasva water tower, Eduard Tubin monument in Tartu, and design of the central square in Rakvere.
Valk has also been at the forefront of a broader awareness building of architecture through exhibitions, public lectures, seminars and workshops, and writing articles. She co-curated the exhibit of the Estonian pavilion at the international Venice Architecture Biennale 2012, and curated the 2012 public lecture series with invited international guest speakers at the Estonian Academy of Arts Faculty of Architecture, also designing the posters (seen left) herself. Her interviews with the speakers was published in Estonia’s main cultural weekly Sirp, www.sirp.ee and she is planning to publish them in English.
The Award, sponsored by Heldur Meerits and the travel operator Go Travel gives Valk €4500 for travel to any destination of her choosing. The jury specifically highlighted Valk’s curation of the public lectures of renowned international architects and other specialists invited to participate in the 2012 lecture series at the Estonian Academy of Arts, and expressed its hope that the travel prize would help her to further nurture her cross-cultural contacts and collaboration network.
This year’s jury for the Young Architect Award 2012 included David Basulto, founder and Chief Editor of the ArchDaily architecture portal; Ülo Peil, architect; Villem Tomiste, recipient of the Young Architect Award 2011; and Heldur Meerits and Aavo Kokk, entrepreneurs.