When the Steel Innovation Award first saw the light of day some twenty years ago, there were hardly any competitions of its kind in Germany. Of course, steel was an indispensible material in almost all areas of industry, but as many developments took place behind closed doors, there was hardly any relevant public awareness of its great potential for innovation. So the organisers, the German Steel Information Centre, decided to create an award for projects where steel was used in particularly exemplary and innovative ways. The awards were to be allocated in several different categories and were to be held every three years. A total of 664 submissions demonstrate the relevance of the competition on the German industrial landscape. The categories are: Steel Products, Steel in Research and Development, Steel Building Components and Systems and Steel Design. In addition, this year, a special prize "Climate Protection and Steel" was awarded for a project that uses steel to advance the cause of climate protection in a particularly effective way. This award goes to Siemens AG for a new kind of gas turbine which, as the core component of a gas and steam power station, will provide a hitherto unattained 60% level of efficiency. The large proportion of entries in the category of Steel Design - at 42% this category is the biggest by a significant margin - showed clearly this year the position occupied by steel in the design world these days.
First prize in this category was awarded to designer Christofer Born for his pliable dish. For this dish he has used a braiding process which is already known in other fields of technology. This process gives the user almost unlimited possibilities for shaping and reshaping the dish - from a "flat plate" to a "deep bowl". An outstanding combination of innovative technology and elegant, contemporary and, indeed, flexible design.
In second place was the Kanera 1 D double basin designed by architects GRAFT for the Kanera company. The basin is in enamelled steel and is reminiscent of a mountain landscape, so that it becomes a defining feature of the design of the bathroom. Thus, it avoids the traditional geometric forms and, in the jury's view, "opens up market segments for steel that have hitherto been reserved for other materials".
The third prize went to the Bette company for their "Bettefloor" shower. This elegant walk-in shower allows barrier free access and - in the words of the jury - "embraces with open arms and clear vision the current trend to develop the bathroom from a simple washing area into a room of sensual experience." In the category of Steel Building Components and Systems, the first prize went to a new kind of flooring system in sheet steel, developed by the SEAG company in Eisenhüttenstadt. This complex, extremely thin, yet rigid system opens up new possibilities, particularly with regard to building work in existing buildings. The second prize was awarded to engineers Neuner + Graf who, together with the planning association Zwischenräume in Munich, have developed a pedestrian walkway in weather-resistant steel which blends happily into the natural environment. The award of joint third prize to the Contrial company for a spacer for exterior wall cladding, and to SSF Ingenieure for their steel bridge over the A73 once again demonstrated the enormous flexibility of steel as a material and the huge range of applications for it.
There is therefore, continued reason to hope that the German Steel Innovation Award can - as the patron of the award, Markus Miele, put it in his speech - "make a sustainable contribution to securing a future for Germany as a home for manufacturing industry and business."