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Sustainable construction projects applauded across Africa Middle East

The winners of the second Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction from across region Africa Middle East were announced at a ceremony in Marrakech. Total prize money of USD 270,000 was presented to eleven projects that illustrated the broad scope for applying sustainable construction approaches to the built environment across public and private architecture, urban planning, and environmental remediation.

The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction conducts the competition in parallel across five regions of the world. Almost 5,000 projects from 90 countries entered the competition which aims to promote sustainable responses from the building and construction industry to technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues. The ceremony in Marrakech featured a diverse and international group of project teams and demonstrated that sustainable construction is truly of global concern.

Revitalization of the Fez River in Morocco wins Gold Award

A remediation and urban development scheme for the river precinct in Fez, Morocco received the top prize of USD 100,000 and the Holcim Awards Gold 2008 trophy for combining a comprehensive socio-cultural and economic program within the core environmental remediation initiative. The landscape design by Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni and American-resident Japanese planner Takako Tajima includes water quality improvement, remediation of contaminated sites, creation of open spaces and the enhancement of existing resources for economic development.

Head of Jury and acclaimed architect Joe Addo, praised the approach of coupling environmental remediation with a comprehensive socio-cultural and economic program. “While mitigating the threats of pollution and declining water supply to this historic lifeline traversing the medina of Fez, community-supported programs such as a leather craft center, recreation facilities, water-cleaning wetlands and botanical gardens will restore vitality to the city in a truly sustainable way,” he said.

School and orphans home in Uganda receives Silver Award

The Holcim Awards Silver was presented to the low-cost Mukwano Home in Rakai, Uganda created by Japanese architect Koji Tsutsui. The new homes reflect local social traditions and habits, provide shelter and offer health care, education spaces and leisure facilities. The long-term goal of the project is to provide the children with basic building skills and a chance of future work, and to develop effective social and contextual impact by providing a solid community for children orphaned by the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Bronze Award for Lighthouse Tower in the United Arab Emirates

The submission by UAE-resident South African architect Shaun Killa for the iconic, 400m tall Lighthouse Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) was commended for demonstrating in a convincing manner that high-rise buildings also have significant potential to be designed and constructed to meet sustainability targets. The 53-story building incorporates passive cooling, optimizes use of daylight through a responsive façade, and will include wind turbines and photo-voltaic panels to generate most of the energy needs of the building – and is therefore projected to achieve energy savings of around 50% compared to a conventional office tower.

Acknowledgement prizes for projects in South Africa, Tanzania, and the UAE

Five submissions, three from South Africa and one each from Tanzania and the UAE received Acknowledgement prizes for their approaches to housing, infrastructure, and urban planning. An integrated theater and orphanage compound in Moshi, Tanzania and a mixed-used responsive urban planning strategy for the Xeritown development in Dubai, UAE were selected in addition to three projects from South Africa: a school infrastructure project in Vele and Vryheid, a stabilized earth visitors’ center in the Mapungubwe National Park and a low-impact environmentally-responsive private home in Cape Town.

“Next Generation” prizes for project visions

For the first time, the Holcim Awards competition included a category for the visions of young architects and designers. Two innovative projects from Nigeria were both awarded equal First prize in the “Next Generation” category. A concept for amphibious dwellings which use low-lying and flood prone areas in informal settlements of Lagos to provide safe housing close to residents’ source of income by American-resident Nigerian architect Akinlabi Afolayan was selected for its fresh approach to improving squatter settlements. In addition, the First-prize-winning dune anti-desertification architecture created by Swedish architect Magnus Larsson received the top accolade for applying cutting-edge biotechnology to stop desert encroachment in Sokoto. A waterfront sustainable development project for Mombasa, Kenya by local architects Maranga Njoroge and Benedette Nthale also received a “Next Generation” prize and was applauded for its holistic intervention in the commercial development of a prime beach area.

Independent jury of international experts in architecture and sustainability

Competition submissions for projects in region Africa Middle East were evaluated by an independent jury hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg: Joe Addo (Head of jury, Ghana), Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdellah (Morocco), Dominique Drouet (Morocco), Daniel Irurah (South Africa), Nina Maritz (Namibia), Amer Moustafa (UAE), Hans-Rudolf Schalcher (Switzerland), Holger Wallbaum (Switzerland), and Eyal Weizman (Israel) used the “target issues” for sustainable construction developed by the Holcim Foundation to evaluate submissions. The “target issues” address the triple bottom line of economic, environmental, and social factors together with architectural quality and the potential to apply the innovation in other locations.

International series of five ceremonies

The prizes for region Africa Middle East were conferred at the awards ceremony held in Marrakech, attended by more than 320 representatives of government, business, architecture and related disciplines from 24 countries. Chairman of Holcim and of the Advisory Board of the Holcim Foundation, Rolf Soiron, welcomed all. On behalf of Moroccan Minister of Housing and City Planning, Ahmed Taoufiq Hejira, General Director of architecture and urban planning, Abderrahmane Chorfi, provided a keynote address which emphasized the important role of the built environment of achieving sustainable development.

The Marrakech event was the fourth of five ceremonies. The results for Europe, North America and Latin America have also been announced, and the results for Asia Pacific are still to be celebrated in New Delhi. Gold, silver and bronze prize winners from each region automatically qualify for the global Holcim Awards competition. The projects will be further evaluated by a global jury and the winners proclaimed on May 8, 2009.

The Holcim Awards is an international competition of the Holcim Foundation which seeks innovative, future-oriented and tangible sustainable construction projects and offers prize money of USD 2 million per three-year competition cycle. The competition is run in cooperation with renowned partner universities: The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Switzerland; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA; Tongji University, China; Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; and the Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.

The Holcim Foundation is supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries, but is independent of its commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading producers of cement and aggregates, and was recently named “Leader of the Industry” in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the fourth year in succession.


Winners of the Holcim Awards 2008 for region Africa Middle East

Holcim Awards Gold 2008 – USD 100,000
River remediation and urban development scheme, Fez, Morocco
Main authors: Aziza Chaouni, architect, Extramuro LLP, Fez, Morocco and Takako Tajima, urban planner, Los Angeles, USA

Holcim Awards Silver 2008 – USD 50,000
Low-cost school and home for HIV orphans, Rakai, Uganda
Author: Koji Tsutsui, architect, Koji Tsutsui Architect & Associates, Tokyo, Japan

Holcim Awards Bronze 2008 – USD 25,000
Lighthouse tower with low-carbon footprint, Dubai, UAE
Author: Shaun Killa, architect, Atkins PLC, Dubai, UAE

Holcim Awards Acknowledgement prizes 2008 – USD 12,000 each prize

Low-impact environmentally-responsive house, Cape Town, South Africa
Authors: Jessica Tami Cohen and Andrew Justin Cooke, architects, Architecture Co-op, Cape Town, South Africa

School infrastructure from local resources, Vele and Vryheid, South Africa
Authors: Steve Kinsler and Derek van Heerden, architects, East Coast Architects, Durban, South Africa and Gregg Sherkin, Oprah’s Angel Network, Chicago, USA

Stabilized earth visitors’ center, Mapungubwe National Park, South Africa
Main author: Peter Rich, architect, Lerotholi Rich Associated Architects, Johannesburg, South Africa

TunaHAKI integrated theater and orphanage, Moshi, Tanzania
Authors: Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects, Espoo and Helsinki, Finland and Armstrong + Cohen Architecture, Gainesville, USA

Xeritown responsive urban planning strategy, Dubai, UAE
Main author: Andreas Quednau, architect, SMAQ – architecture urbanism research, Berlin, Germany

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 1st prizes 2008 – each USD 15,000
Amphibious dwellings in informal settlements, Lagos, Nigeria
Author: Akinlabi A. Afolayan, architect, Niles Bolton Associates, Atlanta, USA

Dune anti-desertification architecture, Sokoto, Nigeria
Author: Magnus Larsson, student, Stockholm, Sweden

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 3rd prize 2008 – USD 5,000
Waterfront sustainable development concept, Mombasa, Kenya
Authors: Maranga Njoroge, architect, and Benedette Nthale, designer, ATS, Nairobi, Kenya

Details about the Holcim Awards 2008 Africa Middle East including all prize-winning projects and high-resolution images are available at

Last Updated: November 13, 2008
Marrakech, Morocco
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