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Sustainable construction projects awarded in Latin America

USD 220,000 in prize money was awarded to the best entries in the Holcim Awards competition for sustainable construction projects from Latin America. The top prizes went to projects from Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela in a competition that aims to promote sustainable approaches to the built environment.

The competition was created by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction in collaboration with five of the world’s leading technical universities including the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

In his address, President of the International Union of Architects and renowned architect and planner, Jaime Lerner (Brazil) said sustainability meant solidarity with future generations: “Creativity can substitute for financial resources,” he said, citing cases where traditional sources of urban problems (including transport, solid waste and unemployment) had become generators of new resources and solutions.

Contribution to sustainable development

The Holcim Awards ceremony for sustainable construction projects to be built in Latin America was held at the architectural and historical landmark, the National Historical Museum of Rio de Janeiro. Almost 450 politicians, architects, engineers and business representatives attended the event. In his welcome address, Holcim Ltd CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of the Holcim Foundation, Markus Akermann (Switzerland) stressed that progress and sustainable development were closely linked to the name Holcim: “Through the Holcim Foundation we are committed to building sustainable development into the built environment – learning from innovation, and celebrating new solutions,” he said. 

University of São Paulo School of Civil Engineering Professor and Head of the Holcim Awards jury for Latin America, Vanderley John (Brazil), said that while sustainable construction was a very broad notion involving many aspects, the common goal of ensuring a sound and viable future was clear: “Sustainability was a dream that we urgently need to pursue,” he said.

Holcim Awards Gold 2005 to a rooftop gardens project in Argentina

First prize of USD 100,000 went to a conceptual project aimed at improving urban policy by proposing rooftop gardens throughout the city of Buenos Aires by a team led by Hugo Enrique Gilardi of Buenos Aires. In presenting the award, Prof John said the project provided a response to improve the conditions of individual buildings as well as more extensive environmental problems at a metropolitan scale and beyond: “Benefits for the individual buildings include improved energy efficiency and optimized thermal insulation; benefits at the city level included the mitigation of urban flooding; and also in terms of global warming through minimizing the consumption of fossil energy,” he said. The project presents an ecologically responsible vision for large urban conglomerations. 

Holcim Awards Silver 2005 to a minimal energy school in Brazil

Second prize of USD 50,000 went to a minimal energy (minergy) school complex for 1200 students in Rio de Janeiro by a team led by Michael Laar of Rio de Janerio. The project implements a comprehensive series of environmentally sensitive features in a public school facility including natural ventilation, natural lighting with protection from direct solar radiation, and an accessible roof garden. Prof John said that project was particularly aware of its context: “Instead of manifesting a foreign element in the environment, great care is taken to effectively integrate the series of indoor and outdoor spaces into the natural surroundings, suggesting an expanded conception of ecosystems,” he said. 

Holcim Awards Bronze 2005 to an urban improvement project in Venezuela

Third prize of USD 25,000 was awarded to an urban improvement project for a large shanty town in Caracas, addressing both geographical and social conditions. The project team led by Silvia Soonets of Caracas was commended by Prof John for its sensitive consideration for the diverse qualities of indoor and outdoor communal life: “The project puts forward an innovative scheme with positive impact for the local community,” he said. The project takes maximum advantage of the steep slope to create a variety of social spaces with the placement of housing units providing a counter-measure to the danger of landslides. 

Acknowledgement prizes

Three Acknowledgement prizes of USD 10,000 were also awarded. The Acknowledgement prizes went to a sustainable renovation project for the Goethe Institute in São Paulo, Brazil; a commercial residential apartment building with a comprehensive set of measures to improve sustainability in São Paulo, Brazil; and a market and bus terminal complex connected to a cultural center in Caracas, Venezuela. In presenting the prizes, President of Green Building Chile and member of the Holcim Awards jury for Latin America, Norman Goijberg (Chile) said all three projects were worthy recipients of the Acknowledgement prizes: “The projects all showed a sensible approach to sustainability that incorporated local environmental, social and economic conditions,” he said. 

Encouragement prizes

Encouragement prizes which recognize the achievements of young professionals whose projects are particularly inspirational were also presented at the Holcim Awards. President of Bruno Stagno Architects and member of the Holcim Awards jury for Latin America Bruno Stagno (Costa Rica), said the involvement of the next generation in approaches to sustainable construction was critical: “Including the young in the approach is especially important because sustainability must always be forward-looking,” he said. Four Encouragement prizes were presented: a library using simple local materials in Medellín, Colombia; an office building project that conceives of a building as a living organism in Argentina; an upgradeable and modular provisional shelter in Colombia; and, a social project for the construction of sanitation facilities in dry semi-arid regions of Brazil each received Encouragement prizes of USD 3,750. 

Independent, first-class jury

The projects submitted in the competition were judged by an independent jury comprising leading architects, engineers, and university professors. The twelve-person jury used as a measure the five criteria for sustainable construction that the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has defined in collaboration with renowned universities including the University of São Paulo (USP, Brazil), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA). The criteria range from environmental and aesthetic quality to high ethical and economic standards. 

Strong interest in the competition from region Latin America

The competition attracted a higher number of entries from Latin America than any other region of the competition, with more than 500 entries from 19 countries spanning from Mexico to Chile. Globally, over 1,500 projects from 118 countries were submitted. The spectrum of entries was enormous. It ranged from innovative materials and construction elements to sustainable concepts for large buildings and urban development plans. 

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction is recognizing this year the regional winners in the five regions Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa Middle East, and Asia Pacific. The three best projects from each region will participate automatically in the global Awards competition to be celebrated in April 2006 in Bangkok.

Holcim Foundation

The Holcim Foundation was established by Swiss-based construction materials group Holcim in 2003. With the aim of promoting sustainable construction regionally as well as globally, the Holcim Foundation launched its first awards competition in late 2004. The Holcim Awards includes a series of five regional competitions, and a global assessment for the top entries worldwide. Through the competition, the Holcim Foundation recognizes exemplary building projects, and furthers discussion of sustainable construction amongst architects, urban planners, engineers, building owners and the community. Architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life are integral parts of the Holcim Foundation’s vision of sustainable construction. 

Winners of the Holcim Awards competition 2005 in Latin America

Holcim Awards Gold
Project: “Cubiertas verdes para Buenos Aires”, Argentina
Winner: Hugo E. Gilardi, architect, Gilardi y Asociados, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Juan Cristobal Rautenstrauch, industrial engineer, Sociedad Bracht S.A., Argentina; Raul Halac, architect, Instituto del Ambiente, University of Cordoba, Argentina.

Holcim Awards Silver
Project: "Minimum-energy-school" Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Winner: Michael Laar, architect and engineer, INTELARC, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Holcim Awards Bronze
Project: "Upgrading San Rafael-Unido, urban integration project" Caracas, Venezuela
Winners: Silvia Soonets, Isabel Cecilia Pocaterra, Maria Ines Pocaterra and Victor Gastier, architects, Proyectos Arqui 5, C.A., Caracas, Venezuela

Acknowledgement prizes

Renato Mauro, civil engineer, REM Construtora Ltda, São Paulo, Brazil for project “Edifício Semente da Construção Sustentável no Brasil", São Paulo, Brazil

Cesar Batista Silva, Joerg Spangenberg, Martin Haussmann, independent architects, São Paulo, Brazil for project "Sustainable renovation of the Goethe Institute", São Paulo, Brazil

Giorgio Jorge Rigamonti, architect, Rigamonti & Asociados Consultores C.A., Caracas, Venezuela for project "Plaza del Sol - Public market and transfer terminal", Caracas, Venezuela

Encouragement prizes

Tom Hughes, Eugenia Mora and Diego Nahman, architects, YMGH Arquitectos, Mendoza, Argentina for project "Organismo", Mendoza, Argentina

Luciana de Resenda Alt, architect and urban planner, Belo Horizonte, Brazil for project "Sanitation facilities in semi-arid regions of Brazil", Brazil

Daniel Londoño, independent architect, Sydney, Australia for project "A Library - Accordance to Sustainable Guidelines", Medellín, Colombia

Alejandro Restrepo Montoya, Professor for Architecture, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Medellín, Colombia for project "From temporary shelters to permanent housing", Medellín, Colombia

The Holcim Foundation was established by Swiss-based construction materials group Holcim in 2003. With the aim of promoting sustainable construction regionally as well as globally, the Holcim Foundation launched its first awards competition in late 2004. 

The Holcim Awards includes a series of five regional competitions, and a global assessment for the top entries worldwide. Through the competition, the Holcim Foundation recognizes exemplary building projects, and furthers discussion of sustainable construction amongst architects, urban planners, engineers, building owners and the community. Architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life are integral parts of the Holcim Foundation’s vision of sustainable construction.

The Holcim Foundation is supported by Holcim Ltd but is independent of its commercial interests. Holcim Ltd is today one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement, aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel), concrete, and construction related services. The Group holds majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents and employs some 61,000 people.

Last Updated: October 20, 2005
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