Jury members, Mohsen Mostafavi (head of jury), Alejandro Aravena and Marc Angélil comment on a project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia that combines architectural ideas and urban development across multiple scales. “Articulated Site: Water reservoirs as public park” by Colectivo720 in Cali and EPM Group in Medellín was winner of the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2015.
Jury members, Mohsen Mostafavi (head of jury) and Yolanda Kakabadse describe the benefits of relatively simple construction methods that have produced an exceptional design. “Post War Collective: Community library and social recuperation” in Ambepussa, Sri Lanka by Robust Architecture Workshop in Colombo won the Global Holcim Awards Silver 2015.
Jury members, Mohsen Mostafavi (head of jury) and Meisa Batayneh Maani discuss elements of the large-scale flood protection system which addresses the vulnerability of New York City to coastal flooding. “The Dryline: Urban flood protection infrastructure” by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Copenhagen/New York) won the Global Holcim Awards Bronze 2015.
The Global Holcim Awards 2015 winners are projects that focus on turning a decommissioned water reservoir into a park in Medellín, Colombia; rebuilding social fabric through a community library in Ambepussa following Sri Lanka’s civil war; and creating public zones and flood-protection for the island of Manhattan, New York, USA.
An environmental remediation project on the coast of Southern Italy that connects nature with the imprints of humanity won the top prize. Architects Francisco Leiva of Grupo aranea (Spain) and Marco Scarpinato of AutonomeForme (Italy) integrate the process of restoration in an area that has been degraded during the industrial age. The shape-shifting ecosystem generates a flooded landscape filled with flora and fauna, with a special focus on migrating birds.
The jury applauded the Holcim Awards Gold winning project for its bold philosophical posture – investigating the roles of architecture, landscape design, and urban planning and their constraints through the necessity to allow human existence. “The project frames a discourse on potential forms of relationship between human activity and the natural environment, offering strategies for understanding architecture as a form of action in a symbiotic rapport with nature.”
The headquarters of Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Cordillera Volcánica Central in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, received the silver award. Román Cordero from PLUG architecture in Mexico designed an elevated wooden structure that is sensitive to its context and uses low-cost passive and active systems to minimize its environmental footprint. The wooden structure is covered by a roof constructed with panels made of recycled aluminium milk packages.
A landscape and urban design project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia, that merges social imperatives with technical requirements won the top prize. Architects Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé from Colectivo 720 in Colombia designed a park that encompasses landscape and urban design, as well as architecture and urban planning. The public space and pre-existing elements are transformed to create an outdoor auditorium and venues for a range of community activities.
The jury applauded the Holcim Awards Gold project for exploring uncharted and interdisciplinary terrain. Within the project, aesthetic, social, economic and environmental concerns are combined to form a sophisticated ensemble of public spaces and create a ‘socio-technical’ landscape of magnificent beauty.
A school building in San Andrés Payuca in Mexico founded on an alternative educational model that integrates agriculture, farming and building construction into the curriculum received the bronze award. The self-built school design led by architects Julio Amezuca and Francisco Pardo of AT103 in Mexico proposes the use of cement-reinforced compacted earth blocks with tapered corners that permit assembly in a series of curves based on organic principles.
The Lali Gurans orphanage and library in Kathmandu addresses the needs of an under-served rural population. In a context lacking basic infrastructure, the new facility utilizes low-technology renewable energy and material resources, thus significantly reducing operating costs. Using local construction techniques and materials, the design invests in indigenous workmanship. Vertical gardens and permaculture provide thermal insulation as well as food for cooking. Aiming to overcome the image of “the orphanage” as institution, the project addresses the needs of the nearby communities by offering a library accessible to the public and a seismically stable refuge area during earthquakes.
An ecological park for sustainable research and technology planned for Ortadoğu Sanayi ve Ticaret Merkezi, an industrial zone located in Ankara won the top prize. Creating an attractive communal space for its users with minimum interference to the natural context, the building and landscape design by architects Onat and Zeynep Öktem of ONZ Architects in Turkey incorporates various sustainable features such as natural lighting, geothermal heat pumps, green roofs, passive ventilation and water efficiency/irrigation systems.
A rehabilitation plan for a pine forest park in Beirut, Lebanon by Raëd Abillama of Raëd Abillama Architects from Lebanon won Silver. The urban plan develops the facilities and services needed in the park to open it to the public, and promoting it for cultural, social, sports, and environmental activities – while also maintaining and conserving the park’s natural habitats. Environmental standards and urban needs will be integrated in a seamless way, enhancing the sense of belonging to the wider community.
A cluster of circular towers formed using reflective bricks, designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program for construction in New York City received the Holcim Awards Bronze. The structure by David Benjamin of The Living (USA) uses recent advances in biotechnology combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering to create new building materials that are almost fully organically-grown and compostable. The jury applauded the investigatory nature of the project, both in terms of its objective to research innovative construction materials and their architectural potential using organic bricks, made of a combination of corn stalks and fungal organisms.
A project conducted in parallel by the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction & City Development (EiABC), Addis Ababa and Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany received Bronze. The project to explore and implement construction techniques that tangibly upgrade housing stock in the city was led by Dirk Donath. Within this process-oriented project, close to 90% of the building components including prefabricated concrete elements and lightweight eucalyptus frames are produced by local micro and small-scale enterprises. The approach creates the opportunity for skilled employment and capacity building, and also allows homeowners to complete the construction themselves, installing building components and finishes according to their needs.
The project in the rural town of Ambepussa near Colombo, aims to reintegrate former soldiers into post-civil war Sri Lankan society. Coming from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds, young men are trained in building techniques through their involvement in the construction of public buildings – as for example in the realization of the Community Library in Ambepussa. Respecting existing trees, the slender building sits lightly in the landscape and wraps around an inner courtyard, taking full advantage of cross ventilation and daylight use. Rammed-earth walls and recycled materials reduce the building’s ecological footprint.
Each year, thousands of birds are smuggled in and out of Thailand for their exotic colors and bird calls, to be sold on the world’s growing black market. Rescued birds usually die in confinement because they are retained in cages for up to five years as evidence during prosecution of smugglers. The Bird Sanctuary in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand serves as both an educational facility and a bird rehabilitation center including a small hotel and bird viewing tower, in a site that simulates the natural habitat.
An urban design project in Vienna that identifies a set of rules for establishing a sustainable urban neighborhood received the Holcim Awards Bronze. The urban plan by Enrique Arenas, Luis Basabe and Luis Palacios of Arenas Basabe Palacios arquitectos (Spain) uses a framework of gardens for the project’s physical and social development.
Poreform, a water absorptive surface and subterranean basin that captures rain runoff and adds over 75,000 megaliters (20 billion gallons) to the water supply capacity of Las Vegas won the top prize. Designers Amy Mielke and Caitlin Taylor of Water Pore Partnership (USA) reposition water infrastructure as a civic project. Capable of rapid saturation and slow release, the flood-control pores of this “urban skin” are inlets to a new infrastructure that reframes water as a valuable resource rather than a liability.
The jury praised the Holcim Awards Gold winning project for developing infrastructure as an architectural undertaking that is reclaimed as a truly public matter of concern, balancing social and design imperatives. “While designed for a specific site, the project offers a welcome answer to the general problem of water scarcity – a straightforward, but nonetheless beautiful proposition for a global challenge.”
A building that will host a mix of activities including indoor and outdoor sports facilities, cafés, street terraces and a pedestrian square on the new university campus of Paris-Saclay received the Holcim Awards Silver. Gilles Delalex, Yves Moreau and Thomas Wessel-Cessieux from Muoto architects (France) have designed a minimal structure that uses rough materials, robust and long-lasting techniques, and vertical stacking to superimpose different activities above one another.
The BIG U project that addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding by using a raised berm and sequence of public spaces along the water’s edge won the Holcim Awards Silver. The 13km (8 mi) long infrastructural barrier to mitigate the impact of future storms with the devastating force of Hurricane Sandy was designed by a consortium led by architects Bjarke Ingels and Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark/USA). The jury acknowledged the project’s sensitive blend of hard infrastructure and local community needs.
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