Werner Sobek is internationally synonymous with engineering, design, and sustainability, collaborating with leading architects such as Christoph Ingenhoven, Barkow Leibinger, Henn, Helmut Jahn, Populous, Sauerbruch Hutton, Ole Scheeren, UNStudio, and Zaha Hadid Architects.


Werner Sobek has over the past 20 years developed “Gradientenbeton”, aka graded concrete, an innovative type of concrete with air cavities inside. Compared to conventional concrete, Gradientenbeton weighs 50% less. The benefits are significant, i.e. a building made out of concrete will weigh 50% less than if made from conventional concrete. The materials from which concrete is made are becoming more scarce and only half of those materials are needed to make Gradientenbeton. There are major emission benefits also; the transportation to a building site is reduced by half, and when a building comes to the end of its life only half of materials need recycling. It is for those reasons Werner Sobek is awarded the 2021 OPAL special Award prize in Innovation. To learn more about Gradientenbeton, please see our awards presentation here.

Press release. London December 2021.

We congratulate the three “Designs of the Year” winners in Architectural Design, Interior Design, and Property Development, along with all the impressive Platinum Winners, Winners, and Honorable Mentions!

2021 was a year during which humanity mustered all its power to overcome a worldwide pandemic. However, even among these times full of adversity, architects, developers and interior designers across the globe excelled with groundbreaking projects and brilliant, revolutionary designs. Our esteemed OPAL jury panel comprised of leading industry professionals was moved and impressed by the shortlist of over 600 visionary entries from all around the world.

Marco Vanucci, OPAL jury member commented, “The OPAL Awards continue to celebrate design at its best. This year, the large number of outstanding designs entries made the work of the jury particularly challenging.I congratulate the winners and I wish every participant all success for their future work!”

The three “Designs of the Year” Winners and full list of Platinum Winners, Winners, and Honorable Mentions are displayed on the Winners page.

On the closing day of the 2021 Design Shanghai Convention, the Outstanding Property Award London presented the OPAL award hosted in partnership with the Asia Pacific Design Center and Techsize. The packed event was broadcasted online and viewed by 487,000 online viewers. With OPALs’ base in London, it was an opportunity to network property developers, interior designers, and architects and celebrate great property designs across the Asia Pacific region, and to bring awareness about OPAL’s philosophy and commitment to bringing exposure to the best property projects from around the world. While live events are on hold in most parts of the world, it was an opportunity to present certificates and congratulate the 2020 Chinese winners of the OPAL Award.

The event included honorary guests;

Ms. Jiawei Xu, Director at China-Britain Business Council, represented the OPAL award, along with jury member

Vincent Ko, development director at Sinic Holdings and OPAL Jury member.

Mrs. Shirley Qiu, General Manager of Techsize.

Mr. Pablo Galvez, European Union Chamber of Commerce in China

Imagemaker, and master planning firm Chapman Taylor.

The winners were awarded across OPALs three disciplines: Interior Design, Architectural Design, and Property Development. The Asian winners received their awards in person. (insert names of the people who awarded the award) presented the OPAL awards to the winners and trophies were also acquired by some of the winners. The winners were interviewed respectively, congratulating them on their win.

The excellent turnout and great enthusiasm were made possible thanks to the participation of OPAL Award winners.

OPAL Award - Design Shanghai event

Mr. Li Yuyong, General Manager of EngineeringDepartment in Techsize China Operations Center. Mr. Vincent Ko, Building Research and Development Director at Sinic Holdings (Group) CO., LTD, a jury of OPAL.   Ms. CowCow Zheng, Secretary-general of APDC International Member communication center. Partner of HK PFD+ Design Mr. Pablo Galvez.  Coordinator of European Union Chamber of Commerce in China Mr. Peter Mackey, Director of Chapman Taylor Shanghai. Mrs. Shirley Qiu, General Manager of Techsize China Area. Mrs. Jiawei Xu, Director of Energy, Infrastructure & environment, CBBC China Mr. Yang Xiangguang, General Manager of Sales Department in Techsize China Operations Center.


 487,000 viewers watched online as OPAL Goodwill Ambassador Miaoyi Jiang, Gold Mantis, Deputy Dean of Design Research Institute speak to the press about the London-based OPAL Award to the Asia Pacific design community.


OPAL Design Shanghai event

British architect and master planning firm Chapman Taylor Design Studio presents certificates to winning firms.


OPAL event - Design Shanghai 2021

APDC and Techsize organized the extremely successful and well-attended OPAL event.





German engineering firm Transsolar, dedicated to design and build climate positive buildings, has been awarded the OPAL Special Award for Sustainability. The annual OPAL Special Award is rewarded to firms whose work and achievements are truly outstanding and make a game-changing impact in their sectors, a true inspiration for others to follow.

Transsolar, founded in 1992, with offices in Stuttgart, München, New York is dedicated to ensuring the highest possible standards in the built environment with the lowest possible impact on the environment. Transsolar develops and validates climate and energy concepts, emphasizing that the environmental aspect is key at every stage of design. The firm works with clients, architects, engineers, and consultants from the initiation of the design process. Transsolar goes beyond the mere concept of saving energy, focussing on energy-neutral ideas in areas such as natural ventilation, air quality, acoustics, well-being, and more.

The OPAL jury panel was particularly impressed by Transsolar’s human and holistic approach insisting that  Sustainability plays an integral part in every step of the design process.

Click here to view the awards presentation video including interviews with the Transsolar partners Thomas Auer, Volkmar Bleicher, Stefan Holst, Erik Olsen, and Matthias Schuler.

OPAL Special Award Transsolar


Due to the fateful COVID-19 circumstances, resulting in the cancellation of the OPAL’s Awards Ceremony, the Board of OPAL decided to host an online event celebrating and honoring all the winning projects of the 2020 OPAL Award.

We are proud to showcase the best in Architectural Design, Interior Design, and Property Development projects from all over the world!

View all winning projects here.

OPAL held its first promotional event for the Asian design community in Shanghai. It was an opportunity for property developers, architects and interior designers, and also last years OPAL winners to meet and greet, and learn about OPALs commitment to reward and give exposure to the most outstanding property projects from around the world. The event took place at the H18 design studio in Shanghai and was organised by our friends and partners APDC.

Due to the difficult Covid times, all physical events are until further notice put on hold world-wide with China as possibly the only exception making this event possible. The programme was an opening speech and presentation by the creative talent and OPAL representative Søren Matz and Lynn Wang followed by a presentation to designers on how we work to support the design community.



"OPAL Interior Design of the Year 2019" Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon by Shenzhen Wanjing International Design Consultant Co., Ltd.

The event was aslo an opportnity to present certificates to the regional 2019 winners and congratulate them on their achievements. A speech was also conducted by OPAL Goodwill ambassador, the honorable Mr. Miaoyi Jiang, Deputy Dean of the Design Research institute of Gold Mantis. 

The even was streamed live by READ media reaching over 210,000 viewiers and TechSize ceramic tiles was the main sponsor of the event.

2020 OPAL Goodwill ambassador Mr. Miaoyi Jiang of Gold Mantis.
Launch of the new and smaller OPAL trophies that soon will be available to certified OPAL Winners.
"Interior Design of the Year" 2019 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon by Shenzhen Wanjing International Design Consultant Co., Ltd.

Outstanding Property Award London Announces Winners in the First Annual Edition

The Outstanding Property Award London (OPAL) has announced the winners in the inaugural edition of its prestigious awards program. Honoring the most brilliant talents and outstanding global projects in Interior Design, Architecture, and Property Development, it sets the stage for OPAL to take its place as a benchmark of design excellence across the industry. This announcement comes at an unprecedented and challenging time in history, where the Covid-19 pandemic is significantly impacting our lives. We hope everyone is staying safe.

With entries from all over the world, each project was anonymously peer-reviewed by the distinguished OPAL jury panel comprised of international industry experts, rating each project according to their individual merits. The final winners were chosen based on the overall score of all the Jury votes. View the full Jury list here.

The jury panel has selected one ‘Project of the Year’ within each industry category, given to the highest-rated project who will receive the handcrafted OPAL trophy. Following this rating in descending order are; ‘Platinum Winners’ and ‘Winners’ as well as ‘Honorable Mentions.’
A full list of this year’s winners is here.

OPAL 2019 “Project of the Year” are awarded to the single best project across the three categories:

Architectural Design of the Year:
The Shed
Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Rockwell Group

Interior Design of the Year:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Shenzhen Wanjing International Design Consultant Co., Ltd.

Property Development of the Year:
One Manhattan West
Brookfield Properties

Each winner receives the coveted OPAL Winners Seal to promote their award, a Winner’s Certificate, and a permanent profile on the OPAL online Winner’s gallery. OPAL has decided to postpone the Awards Ceremony due to the unfortunate Covid-19 situation until further notice and hope all are staying safe during these troubled times.

Speaking about OPAL’s award program, Jesper Thomsen, OPAL’s co-founder, commented, “Our esteemed jury members have worked hard to select the best projects. We are proud to present the Winners of our inaugural year, celebrating the creativity and talent of incredible design projects from around the world, giving them the global exposure they deserve.”

To learn more about OPAL’s submission criteria and award structure, winner benefits, and more, click here. For any press enquiries, email hannah@farmanigroup.com



Outstanding Property Awards London

And they look absolutely stunning. Outstanding Property Award London is proud to present these beautiful handmade trophies. Standing 30cms tall, cast in solid brass and 22ct gold plated, these weighty trophies will be awarded to the overall-winner projects within Interior Design, Architecture, and Property Development.

We are also giving trophies to projects nominated exclusively by our jury panel in Sustainability, Social Impact, Innovation, and Lifetime Achievement.

Watch a 30 second video of the actual OPAL trophy




Hotel Designs editor Hamish Kilburn talks to Jesper Thomsen, co-founder of the Outstanding Property Award London.

Making its debut on the international design stage, Outstanding Property Award London (OPAL) has begun its global search to identify the most innovative design and architecture projects. As the exclusive media partner of the awards, Hotel Designs speaks to OPAL’s co-founder to understand what sets the initiative aside from others. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

“What makes a building, a project, a person and/or a hotel’s design outstanding,” I ask myself as I weave between some of London’s architectural skyline statements while running embarrassingly late to meet with Jesper Thomsen. It feels like only yesterday we were both sitting down over coffee for the first time discussing the bones of what has now become the Outstanding Property Award London (OPAL).

Fast-forward to today, and I am on the jury – as well as at the helm of a very special media partnership -imminently about to be asked to identify the ‘outstanding’ from the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘unique’ – all of which are buzzwords that are overused and I struggle at the best of times to define. Considering the vast amount of innovative architectural gems that have appeared in cityscapes around the world in recent years, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the entire weight of the industry’s judgement pressing down on my shoulders. It’s an interesting concept becoming a judge, and ironic that what follows is then the feeling – or apprehension at least – of judgement. But it’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone when casting my opinion, as the awards now has significant number of jury members, all of which have been hand-selected to offer different perspectives from all corners of the industry.

By the time I make it to meet Thomsen, I have decided that, for me, something unconventional will be my winner, which is a word that I feel would best describe Thompson’s ambitions for OPAL, along with ‘bold’, ‘courageous’ and ‘about time.’

Hamish Kilburn / What was the aim when setting up OPAL?

Jesper Thomsen / The aim was created out of a passion for creativity in the property industry. We aim to highlight and celebrate the most exceptional design projects in the world, raising their awareness and honoring its creators. Buildings last for decades, sometimes centuries, they tell our history and legacy, where we come from and where we are now. They are fundamental to our existence, so it’s essential that they are well designed and serves humanity in the best way possible.

We seek to reveal projects that are not only highly creative but show useful function, provide better living experiences for its users, and meeting the clients’ expectation. Class-leading projects that demonstrate innovation and embracing new technologies, setting new trends, respecting and protecting the environment, and pushing boundaries of human ingenuity.

OPAL was established with my friend and business partner Hossein Farmani, founder of the Farmani Group of companies, who has vast experience in the design awards industry since 1985. Having worked together in the past, the award feels like a natural progression of our combined experiences.

HK / Can you tell more about your experience in the industry? What’s your story?

JT / I always wanted to become an Architect. Since a young age, I’ve been fascinated by design, and for me, architecture was the ultimate expression of human creativity and design evolution. However, my father was the third-generation owner of a printing and design practice in my native Denmark and got me interested in graphic design. At the time of A-level graduation in Denmark, I wanted to apply for the School of Architecture, but the ministry of education regulating the free admissions had almost no openings for new students due to a slump in that industry.

Instead, after one year as an apprentice in an architectural firm in Paris, I moved to London and began a Masters degree at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, which related more to graphic design, I also supplemented my studies with photography. Following graduation, I was a creative director, designing websites for major companies during the dot com boom era. Here I gained considerable experience in digital marketing and branding. After a seven-year itch, I became tired of commercial design, and my love for the arts was calling.

I launched a private art gallery in Londons’ Knightsbridge, including spending one year developing and designing the gallery space. In this process, it felt like all creative aspects came together, and after completion, I would subsequently spend another seven years running the gallery exhibiting artworks by artists such as Damian Hirst and Bill Brandt.

I decided to move on from the gallery business, and fate got me involved in developing a few properties in Londons Knightsbridge, I spent nearly 3 years responsible for all operations, learning hands-on all the disciplines from interiors to architecture, planning, research, 3D modeling, materials, procuring and team management. It was a very creative period but also learning the hard way how complex the creation of properties really is. So my past really covers hugely varied types of creative practices. I’ve learned that creativity, in all its forms, is about ‘seeing’, sensing, letting your imagination unfold, and this can be applied to all its disciplines.

HK / Why is London such a significant destination to base these awards?

JT: London has always been incredibly important for creativity and design in the built environment, spanning from historical landmarks up to today’s groundbreaking contemporary designs. Some of the most famous developers, architectural firms, and interior designers, have a base here and continue to inspire and influence the global property industry. The OPAL Award is open to entries from around the world, and we want to bring outstanding projects to London and celebrate them in our fantastic capital we are so proud of.

/// OPAL offers a three-way synergy between our three main entry categories; Property Development, Architecture and Interior Design.” – Jesper Thomsen ///

HK /  What sets OPAL aside from other design awards?

JT: Many awards are confined to a single industry within the property sector; An Architecture Award, is for Architects, by Architects. An interior design award, is for interior designers, by interior designers and so on. OPAL reaches fully across the property sector. It offers a three-way synergy between our three main entry categories; Property Development, Architecture and Interior Design. These industries continuously collaborate to create exciting projects, each bringing their expertise, and combined, they deliver outstanding designs. We are also very proud of our talented jury panel who will evaluate the global entries, they are our backbone and aspiration to those who enter our award.

HK / What other destinations around the globe would you are design hotspots?

JT / It’s incredible how major cities in Asia have become design hotspots. Shanghai for example, really pushes boundaries fuelled by a concentration of industrial partners and strong government support. As the countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games draws closer, the Japanese capital is in the middle of a hotel gold rush. Anything from boutique design hotels to glittering skyscrapers, a raft of new establishments are opening or are in the pipeline. Mexico City is also one to watch after being nominated for World Design Capital last year. I love their particular design language, elegantly fusing original colonial architecture with contemporary.

HK / What’s the number one thing you cannot travel without?

JT / This is an obvious one; my laptop. It’s glued to my fingertips at all times. I travel extensively, and this enables me to run operations and be connected at all times. Oh, and an online back-up of it too.

HK / What is your favourite hotel you have ever stayed in and why?

JT / There are so many. I recently visited Extremadura, a remote and less traveled part of Spain. Here, in the historic town of Cáceres, inside its UNSECO walled city and housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century palace is the stunning hotel Atrio. Striking white minimalist architectural features blends lovingly with the old stone walls and shiny black wooden floors. The surrounding streets have no tourist shops, nor huge crowds with selfie sticks you’d typically find in places of such beauty, just quaint, peaceful alleys defined by sandstone and ivy leaf clad palaces. The rooms and amenities are styled in a fashionable 60s Scandinavian design, Miles Davies’ Blue Note years playing softly in the background, a pleasing opposition to the striking view onto the empty medieval square below. Atrio is also home to a fabulous two-starred Michelin restaurant boasting one of the finest wine cellars in the world. I thoroughly recommend a visit here.

HK / What do you look for in an outstanding property?

JT / What really excites me about a great project is when the original vision of a completed building shines like a star, its purpose is evident to the eyes and the senses. Those projects are likely to be those who have seen mostly green lights during the creation process.

HK / Where’s next on your travel bucket list?

JT / My sights are on Mongolia, away from civilisation and buildings. When I take time off, I grab my camera bag and go shooting landscapes, happy to be off-grid. No place is better for me to clear my mind than to connect with solitary, vast open expanses or wild roaring oceans.

HK / What is your favourite restaurant/bar in London at the moment?

JT / I like Aquavit in St. James. Maybe I’m a bit impartial due to my Scandinavian roots, here you can eat classic dishes such as gravid lax in a beautiful, sumptuous setting. I also like the buzz of The Ned, the physical scale of it is bars, and restaurant area is incredible. There is also the Standard Hotel, a funky design offering fantastic views over Londons’ city to one side and the clock tower of St. Pancras to the other, so close it feels glued onto their windows.

HK / What trend do you hope never returns?

JT / Brutalist 60s’ architecture. Its primitive obsession with concrete made an austere generation of buildings where function superseded design, creating discouraging living conditions for its users. I don’t think architects and developers of that time really understood or considered the human factor as part of a design concept, that a building serves to improve peoples lives and its environment, not just a structure to keep you dry from the rain. They are genuine eyesores and should be demolished, and only the best examples should be preserved for the record. I doubt this trend will return anytime soon due to a much better understanding of peoples needs along with technological advancements in the building industry, 3D printing, new materials and simulation methods give designers today far more freedom, flexibility, and individuality to create exciting designs.

Main image credit: OPAL

I feel truly honoured to receive the award from OPAL. In addition to a great personal satisfaction, it is a professional recognition for my whole team and company comprised by many young people. I wish good luck to all future designers who will participate in OPAL, a positive way to evaluate our work done with great commitment and professionalis.

Caterina Cairoli,
Lead Designer,
Hangzhou Palace Interior Design

It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the OPAL. It is so important for our industry to celebrate and reward creative and outstanding craftsmanship to keep raising the bar. The quality and large number of entrants proves OPAL has already established itself as one of the top awards of its kind.

Erik Behrens,
Creative Director,
Design Studio Lead,
AECOM Architecture