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Sustainable construction projects shaping better communities

The winners of the 3rd International Holcim Awards competition for sustainable construction projects and visions from Africa Middle East have been announced at a ceremony in Casablanca. A total of USD 300,000 was presented to ten outstanding projects submitted by architects, planners, engineers and project owners. The winning projects illustrate the broad scope of applying sustainable approaches in construction including school infrastructure, community renewal, urban redevelopment, and energy-efficient design.

The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction conducts the competition in five regions in parallel across the world. More than 6,000 submissions for projects located in 146 countries entered the Holcim Awards which aims to promote sustainable responses from the building and construction industry to technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues.

School in Burkina Faso wins Gold Award

A school project in Burkina Faso using only solar and wind power to cool the classrooms won the top prize of USD 100,000. Natural ventilation is used in an ingenious manner to maximize the cooling effect during oppressive summer heat – routing air through underground tubes, planting vegetation, and using double-skin roofs and façades to achieve a 5°C thermal reduction. The project creates an indoor climate conducive to learning, improves social conditions by providing jobs and training, and repairs the environment through reforestation. The design for the secondary school in the village of Gando on the dry tropical savanna was created by Germany-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, of Kéré Achitecture, who was the first person from the village to study internationally, and is also the son of the village headman.

Special Advisor of the UN Global Compact and founding member of the Holcim Foundation, Claude Fussler (France), commended the project for its broad approach towards enmeshing discrete sustainable aspects of the program into a comprehensive whole. “The school is constructed by the community and builds not only a physical structure that makes use of high-tech ideas that are implemented with low-teach means, but also creates a sense of identity and enhanced social cohesion,” he said.

Refurbishment of a school in Palestine receives Silver Award

The Holcim Awards Silver was presented to a school project in Palestine. The refurbishment approach designed by Italian architects ARCò – Architettura e Cooperazione improves natural ventilation and thermal insulation, thus achieving climatic comfort and energy reduction. At the same time, it generates a positive impact on the students of the Bedouin community less than 10km east of Jerusalem. Traditional mud brick techniques are adapted by local artisans to improve thermal dynamics and reduce dependence on imported building materials. The approach to refurbish an inadequate existing structure uses well-directed and precise low-tech measures to create a functional educational unit, and the simplicity of the underlying concept and easy transferability make the project a remarkable blueprint.

Bronze Award for a sustainable construction training center in Morocco

The design approach for a training center in Morocco led by a team of architects from Austria, Germany and Morocco received the Holcim Awards Bronze. The project in Marrakesh was commended for concentrating on the use of nearby resources including the local workforce and earth as the primary construction material. Design-inherent shading and natural ventilation are combined with modern technologies such as heat pumps and solar panels to demonstrate a range of sustainable construction techniques. The vocational training center enhances the future prospects of the youth in the area by providing practical education and vocational qualifications – and generates opportunities for employment using sustainable practices in the prospering construction sector.

Projects in Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and UAE receive Acknowledge prizes

Acknowledgement prizes were allocated to an urban precinct reconstruction and rehabilitation project in Morocco led by mossessian & partners, United Kingdom, and a building materials research project using recycled plant-based agricultural waste in Nigeria by a consortium of universities in Nigeria and Switzerland. Acknowledgement prizes also went to a sustainable eco-tourism facility in Cape Town by South African architects Architecture co-op and a state-of-the-art mixed use building implementing holistic architectural design in the UAE led by Swiss architectural firm Bob Gysin + Partner.

“Next Generation” prizes for post-graduate student visions

The Holcim Awards competition recognizes the importance of engaging tomorrow’s professionals on the theme of sustainable construction, and sharing their visions and ideas at a conceptual level. The “Next Generation” category was open to student projects. The first prize was awarded to Calayde Aenis Davey of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, who proposed the adaptive re-use of a power station for urban agriculture. Second prize was conferred to a passive agriculture proposal for the floodplain of the Nile River in Ethiopia, developed by students of the University of Seoul, South Korea. The urban masterplan which proposed a culturally-sensitive redevelopment by Khalid El Jaouhari at ENA Rabat, Morocco received the third prize.

Independent jury of international experts in architecture and sustainability

Competition submissions for projects in Africa Middle East were evaluated by an independent jury hosted by the Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture de Casablanca, in Morocco: Hashim Sarkis (Head of jury, Lebanon), Javier de Benito (Switzerland), Chrisna du Plessis (South Africa), Abderrafih Lahbabi (Morocco), Mphethi Morojele (South Africa), Amer Moustafa (UAE), Joe Osae-Addo (Ghana), Hans-Rudolf Schalcher (Switzerland), and Holger Wallbaum (Switzerland) 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.

First Holcim Awards announcement for 2011

The Holcim Awards ceremony in Casablanca was the first of five events – others will be held in Milan, Buenos Aires, Washington DC and Singapore. The projects that receive Holcim Awards Gold, Silver and Bronze in each region automatically qualify for the Global Holcim Awards next year. In addition, all prize-winning projects at the regional level – including the Acknowledgement and “Next Generation” winners, will automatically compete for Global Holcim Innovation prizes which are being introduced in 2012 to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the Holcim Group. Winners of the Global Holcim Awards will be announced in April 2012.

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: Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture de Casablanca (EAC), Morocco; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Switzerland; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, USA; Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), in Mexico City, Mexico; Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay), in Mumbai, India; Tongji University in Shanghai, China; Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Brazil; and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Holcim Foundation is supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries and is independent of its commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services.

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Holcim Awards


Holcim Awards Gold 2011 – USD 100,000
Secondary school with passive ventilation system, Gando, Burkina Faso
Author: Diébédo Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture, Germany

Holcim Awards Silver 2011 – USD 50,000
Sustainable refurbishment of a primary school, near Al Azarije, Palestine
Main author: Claudia Romano, ARCò - Architettura e Cooperazione, Italy
Further authors: Diego Torriani, Alessio Battistella, Luca Trabattoni, Carmine Chiarelli, Valerio Marazzi, and Alberto Alcalde Villacampa, ARCò - Architettura e Cooperazione, Italy

Holcim Awards Bronze 2011 – USD 25,000
Training center for sustainable construction, Marrakesh, Morocco
Main author: Anna Heringer, Germany
Further authors: Elmar Nägele, Austria; Salima Naji, Morocco; Martin Rauch, Baukunst GmbH, Austria; Ernst Waibel, Nägele Waibel Architects, Austria


Acknowledgement prizes

Holcim Awards Acknowledgement prizes 2011 – USD 18,750 each prize


Affordable building materials from recycled agricultural waste, Zaria, Nigeria
Main author: Charles Oluwole Job, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Architecture, Wood & Civil Engineering, Switzerland
Further authors: Frédéric Pichelin and Andreas Rosenkranz, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Architecture, Wood & Civil Engineering, Switzerland; Henry Tata Kimeng and Sani Mustapha, Ahmadu Bello University, Department of Architecture, Nigeria; Chigbo Aghaegbusi Mgbemene and Okey Nduka, University of Nigeria, Nigeria

Building implementing holistic architectural design, Masdar City, United Arab Emirates
Main author: Bob Gysin, Bob Gysin Partner BGP Architekten, Switzerland
Further authors: Rudolf Trachsel, Sebastian El Khouli, Nadja Heitz, and Carmen Held, Bob Gysin Partner BGP Architekten, Switzerland; Tim Hampson and Mark Barnard, Dyer, United Kingdom; David Telford, Hurley Palmer Flatt, United Kingdom; Markus Braach, Switzerland; Upul Jayasuriya, Milcris, Oman

Sustainable public eco-tourism facility, Cape Town, South Africa
Authors: Andrew Justin Cooke and Jessica Tami Cohen, Architecture co-op, South Africa

Urban precinct reconstruction and rehabilitation, Fez, Morocco
Main author: Michel Mossessian, mossessian & partners, United Kingdom
Further author: Yassir Khalil, Yassir Khalil Studio, Morocco


"Next Generation" prizes


Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 1st prize 2011 – USD 25,000
Adaptive re-use of industrial site for urban agriculture, Pretoria, South Africa
Author: Calayde Aenis Davey, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 2nd prize 2011 – USD 15,000
Passive floodplain agricultural system, Gohatsion, Ethiopia
Main author: Wonjoon Han, University of Seoul, South Korea
Further author: Gunho Kim, University of Seoul, South Korea

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 3rd prize 2011 – USD 10,000
Culturally-sensitive urban master plan, Agadir, Morocco
Author: Khalid El Jaouhari, ENA Rabat National School of Architecture, Morocco

Last Updated: September 08, 2011
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