New York based architect Steven Holl won a LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize for his design of the Miracle for Africa Foundation central library in Lilongwe, Malawi. The jury for Middle East Africa had praised the project’s sophisticated, undulating design that synthesizes effective shading, natural ventilation, solar energy, and greywater recycling into one seductive and highly resolved form. LafargeHolcim Foundation Board member Marilyne Andersen caught up with Steven Holl in Zurich, where she presented an Awards prizewinner certificate – a fitting combination as both are passionate about the use of daylight in architecture.
The two were invited to Zurich by the Velux Foundation as 2016 Laureates of the Global Daylight Award. Marilyne Andersen is one of the world’s leading daylight experts and leads exemplary interdisciplinary daylighting research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne. Her research addresses and analyses daylight effects on the health, wellbeing, performance and experience of building users. Steven Holl is known for bridging the empirical scientific and the intuitive world to express the atmospheric qualities of space and light and the relationships between structure, material and light.
Steven Holl is optimistic that his LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize winning library project in Malawi will commence construction in early 2018. It is his first project on the African continent and he is proud that it will not just be energy neutral, but supply energy for adjacent buildings to be constructed. In his speech at the Daylight Award Outreach event, he gave full credit to Matthias Schuler of Transsolar in Germany who established the basics for the striking design that combines solar energy production with natural ventilation and enables natural lighting: “When people ask me what material I enjoy working with the most, I say light!”, explained Steven Holl.