The 15-Minute City wins £100,000 OBEL Award for architecture
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The 15-Minute City wins £100,000 OBEL Award for architecture
City life photo, Paris street. Photo: Søren Bang Clemmesen.

LONDON.- A truly liveable and sustainable urban future that places each global citizen at the heart of their own city. This is the goal of the 15-minute city, an urban model, which was chosen by the jury to win the third ever OBEL Award.

The idea behind the 15-minute city is that cities should be (re)designed, so that all residents are able to access their daily needs (housing, work, food, health, education, and culture and leisure) within the distance of a 15-minute walk or bike ride. This greatly reduces car traffic and CO2 emissions and increases the health and well-being of residents.

The model, which can be adjusted to local culture, conditions, and needs, has already been implemented with great success in cities like Paris, Chengdu, and Melbourne, generating a global movement.

According to the jury, the 15-minute city is a beautiful and intuitive vision that has the potential to vastly improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide and to help create a healthier planet.

Martha Schwartz, Chair of the Jury, says: “Like the two previous OBEL AWARD winners, this year’s winner is about protecting the environment and making life better for people. We are living in a time of urgency to make a change and live more efficiently. The 15-minute city addresses the need for us to rethink how our cities can be reimagined, redesigned, and regenerated for the primary benefit of people and the environment. The 15-minute city is a real step towards the future – a bold and needed perspective.”

On receiving the award, Carlos Moreno says: “I want to thank the jury for giving me this award. In my opinion, it is in fact a triple recognition: On the one hand, it is a recognition of my academic work, but secondly, it is a recognition of the international movement generated by the 15-minute city. And thirdly, it is a recognition of the commitment by different mayors around the world in embracing the 15-minute city.”

The award ceremony will take place on 21 October in Paris at the Salle des Fêtes of the Hôtel de Ville of Paris.


The OBEL AWARD is a new, international prize for architectural achievement presented annually by the Henrik Frode Obel Foundation, founded by Henrik Frode Obel (1942-2014). The prize is 100,000 Euros and a unique artwork by leading artist Tomás Saraceno.

The aim of the award is to honour recent and outstanding architectural contributions to human development all over the world – architectural contributions considered broadly as any contribution that helps change our physical, designed environment for the common good. The award is given to works or projects from the past five years. It can be given to an individual or a team, and the award-winning project can range from a manifesto to a masterplan and include buildings, landscape projects, and exhibitions.

Each year, the jury will set a special focus for the OBEL AWARD. In 2021, the special focus is: seminal solutions to the challenges facing cities.

The 2021 OBEL AWARD jury consists of: Martha Schwartz, Chair (founder, Martha Schwartz Partners, USA), Kjetil Trædal Thorsen (co-founder, Snöhetta, Norway), Louis Becker (design principal and partner, Henning Larsen, Denmark), Dr Wilhelm Vossenkuhl (professor emeritus of philosophy, Germany), and XU Tiantian (founding principal, DnA, Beijing, China).


Carlos Moreno is French of Colombian origin. He is a Senior University Professor, a driving force behind Paris’s 15-minute city plan, and a Knight of the French Legion of Honour.

The outstanding career of Carlos Moreno is marked by an interest in people and a passion for cities and their complexity. Deeply committed to science, progress and creativity, Carlos Moreno embraces new technology for the common good, promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration between scientific disciplines and professionals in the innovation ecosystem, and participates in debates, working groups, and media interviews to discuss and disseminate new knowledge.

Carlos Moreno started his career with an interest in robotics. In 1983, he became a researcher and lecturer at the IUT in Cachan at the Université de Paris Sud, working in the computer science and robotics laboratory (LIMRO). In 1990, he began working at the Université d’Evry, where he became a Senior Professor, and in 1998, he created his own start-up, Sinovia, which centred on the intelligent control of complex systems with an emphasis on infrastructure. In 2006, Moreno turned his attention to cities – a complex system par excellence – and developed the concept of the ‘sustainable digital city’ as a viable platform from which to provide the services needed to ensure the well-being of a city’s inhabitants. In 2019, Carlos Moreno received the Foresight Medal by the French Academy of Architecture. In 2020, he was a scientific advisor to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, during her re-election campaign. He also authored the book “Urban life and proximity at the time of Covid-19,” published by Editions de l’Observatoire, July 2020.

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