The presence of buildings in new countries with the potential to win Europe's most prestigious prize is proof of the "new agenda" of architecture in Europe said the jury.
Re-centring discussion "keeps architecture alive"
Awarded biannually, the prize is given to the best example of European architecture completed in the last two years by a European architect. It is named after Ludvig Mies van der Rohe, the German-American who was at the vanguard of modernist architecture in the 20th century.
"The 40 works highlight a new agenda that asks for new ways of thinking," said jury chair Dorte Mandrup, founder of Danish practice Dorte Mandrup.
"Excellence and skilfulness are inherent in all of them, but this is not enough; it is necessary that they also make an impact and make architects themselves think differently about the profession," she added.
"It is very refreshing to see how the architectural debate moves around Europe, changing its centre of discussion from one place to another over the years. This keeps architecture alive."
Architecture in post-communist countries recognised
Selected from 383 nominations by a jury of seven that included George Arbid, Angelika Fitz, Ștefan Ghenciulescu, Kamiel Klaasse, María Langarita and Frank McDonald, the shortlist includes projects from 17 European countries.
Albania, Serbia and Slovakia, post-communist countries in Eastern Europe, have projects shortlisted for the first time in the awards' history.
Brussels-based 51N4E was shortlisted for its redesign of Skanderbeg Square in the Albanian capital Tirana. Serbian architect Dejan Todorović for his reconstruction of Belgrade's Museum of Contemporary Art, and Bratislava-based studio GutGut for a Slovakian factory conversion.
Architecture is no longer about "the most chic and shiny" said cultural theorist Fitz, instead it "is really about improving our lives and the way we live together."
British architecture snubbed ahead of Brexit
No UK buildings are among the 40 shortlisted for the 16th edition of Mies van der Rohe Award, and only one British architect has been recognised. The Stanton Williams-designed Museum of Arts in Nantes is the only piece of British-designed architecture in the running for Europe's most important architecture award.
Five finalists will be announced on 13 February, and the winners ceremony will take place on 7 May at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona.
Last year NL Architects and XVW Architectuur won with their revamp of 1960s slab apartment block in Amsterdam.
Read on for the full list of all 40 finalists by country:
› Skanderbeg Square, by 51N4E
› House of Music Innsbruck, by Erich Strolz
› Aspern Federal School, by Fasch & Fuchs Architekten
› Performative Brise- Soleil, by Studio Vlay Streeruwitz
› Residential care centre, by Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu
› PC Caritas, by Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu
› Ryhove Urban Factory, by TRANS
› De Krook library, by Coussée & Goris Architecten
› Residential and studio building at the former Berlin flower market, by Ifau
› Terracehouse Berlin, by Brandlhuber + Emde
› Life Reusing Posidonia, by IBAVI
› Civic Centre Lleialtat Santsenca, by H Arquitectes
› Plasencia Auditorium and Congress Centre, by Selgascano
› Desert City, by Garciagerman Arquitectos
› House 1413, by H Arquitectes
› Solo House, by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen
› The Perret Hall - Cultural Centre Francois, Atelier d'architecture Pierre Hebbelinck. Photo by Brix
› Nantes Museum of Art, by Stanton Williams Architects
› E26 School Refectory, BAST
› Théodore Gouvy Theatre in Freyming-Merlebach, by Dominique Coulon et associés
› Transformation of 530 dwellings, by Frédéric Druot Architecture, Lacaton & Vassal architectes, Christophe Hutin Architecture
› ENSAE Paris Tech, by CAB Architects
› Lafayette Anticipations, by OMA
› St. Mary's Medieval Mile Museum, by McCullough Mulvin Architects
› 14 Henrietta Street, by Shaffrey Architects
› M9 Museum District, by Sauerbruch Hutton
› Prada productive headquarter, by Canali Associati
› Musis Sacrum, by Van Dongen-Koschuch
› Visitor center park Vijversburg, by Studio MAKS with Junya Ishigami
› Lisbon Cruise Terminal, by Carrilho da Graça
› Restoration, refurbishment of the headquarters of the order of architects of Romania, by Starh
› Occidentului 40, by ADN Birou de Arhitectura
› Reconstruction of Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, by Nooto, Dejan Todorović
› Adaptation of the former factory Mlynica, by GutGut