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Sustainable solutions for urgent water problems

Winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 for Latin America

Water is the hot topic among the project entries for the LafargeHolcim Awards in region Latin America. Whether for wastewater, drinking water, or tidal water, many of the prize winners have innovative and often surprising proposals for ways to master the use of this precious resource in Latin America.

The LafargeHolcim Awards is about more than just beautiful buildings. It stands out as the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design. The criteria of the USD 2 million competition are as challenging as the goal of sustainability itself. The competition is for projects at an advanced stage of design, not finished works. It seeks designs that go beyond current standards, showcase sustainable responses to technological, environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural issues affecting contemporary construction, and deliver new, surprising, and truly visionary solutions to the way we build.

Pervasive topic of water

Although construction is a globalized industry with intensive exchange across continents, significant differences were seen between the projects in each region. “In Latin America, a striking number of project authors dealt with water,” says Sarah Nichols, representative of the Academic Committee of the LafargeHolcim Foundation who supported the jury meeting at the University of São Paulo. “Sanitation and clean water are major issues across Latin America,” states jury member Carlos Espina from Argentina. In fact, millions of people in Latin America have no access to adequate amounts of sufficiently clean drinking water, and at the same time the region is plagued again and again by devastating floods, including the metropolitan areas.

Architects and engineers are grappling with this paradoxical problem: “It’s encouraging to see so many projects considering ways to manage water cycles effectively,” says Carlos Espina. 763 projects were up for consideration by the jury, chaired by Brazilian architect Angelo Bucci: “Projects that are good for the community fundamentally enhance their chances of being realized,” he remarks. “The history of the competition proves that the Awards will give the winning projects additional recognition that helps them to move forward,” adds Carlos Espina.

Gold: Publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex in Mexico City

Manuel Perló Cohen and Loreta Castro Reguera from Mexico City designed urgently needed water infrastructure for a favela in the Mexican capital. The project integrates greened public courtyards and public buildings, which strengthen the social fabric. “Equal attention is given to technical considerations of water management, social provision of public space, and the economics of construction as well as long-term maintenance,” said the jury.

Silver: Neighborhood center in Paraisópolis, São Paulo, Brazil

With their project, Sol Camacho Davalos and Jonathan Franklin from São Paulo aim to contribute a lasting improvement to the Paraisópolis favela in der Brazilian metropolitan area. The neighborhood center encompasses three buildings and includes a dance school, an auditorium, commercial space, and more. “The intelligence of the economic architecture is matched by robust building forms that house activities determined by the community,” found the jury.

Bronze: Sanitation system in informal communities of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, developed an efficient water management system for favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Rainwater is collected, and wetlands and septic tanks for filtration are introduced. A key part of the comprehensive concept is public participation in the development process. “By making water treatment local and visible, the proposed scheme creates an active relationship between water management and the community,” stated the jury. 

Acknowledgement prizes: Humans, water, and nature

In the regional LafargeHolcim Awards, four projects in each region receive an Acknowledgement prize. Adèle Naudé Santos from the USA plans affordable housing with integrated workplaces in Cartagena, Colombia. Vinicius Andrade and Marcelo Morettin from São Paulo, Brazil designed a sustainable new building for the National Institute for Pure & Applied Mathematics in Rio de Janeiro. Paula Montoya and Javier Alonso from Spain propose a mobile modular-design hospital in Masaya, Nicaragua. Irene García Brenes, Edgar Mora Altamirano, Erick Calderón Acuña, Alvin Soto Bolaños, and Antonio Salas from Costa Rica propose a convincing development strategy for Curridabat in Costa Rica – in harmony with nature and the environment.

Next Generation prizes: The future is in their hands

Four prizes were awarded in the increasingly popular Next Generation category for students and professionals up to 30 years. This category seeks visionary projects and bold ideas, and gives young professionals public exposure and a platform to gain recognition. For the first time in the history of the LafargeHolcim Awards, more projects were submitted in the Next Generation category than in the main category. The first and the third Next Generation prizes went to teams from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina. In first place were Stefano Romagnoli, Juan Cruz Serafini, and Tomás Pont Apóstolo, with a large-scale plan to harness tidal energy on the coast of Punta Loyola, Argentina. Their colleagues Ángela Ferrero, María Augustina Nieto, María Belén Pizarro, Seizen Uehara, and Lucía Uribe Echevarria were awarded for their Service Point Towers, with which they plan to offer services mainly for underprivileged residents of Latin American cities. The second prize went to Boris Lefevre from France. In Cerro de Pasco in Peru, he aims to unite two incompatible functions in one building: sewage treatment and public baths. The fourth prize went to Alejandro Vargas Marulanda, Daniel Felipe Zuluaga Londoño, and Iojann Restrepo García from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín, Colombia, for their design for flexible-use telecommunication towers in their city.

From project to reality: Foregrounding the value of water in Medellín

This is the fifth time the LafargeHolcim Awards competition is being conducted. Over the years, more than 200 projects have been awarded worldwide. More than half the winning projects have been built or are scheduled for completion soon. Thus, the LafargeHolcim Awards are not about castles in the air, but about tangible measures that advance the science of construction. This aspect of tangible change is underscored by a prize that’s being awarded for the first time in 2017: the “LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition”. It is awarded for a winning project from a previous competition cycle, one which has been built and has stood the test of time as a particularly successful example of sustainable building.

In Latin America, this recognition went to Mario Camargo on behalf of the team of colectivo720 in Calí, Colombia. Using minimal financial and material resources, the architects transformed a decommissioned water reservoir in Medellín into a multiuse public park. The project won the Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold in the fourth competition cycle. The jury applauded that it “foregrounds the value of water as an important resource of urban life, celebrating a piece of infrastructure as a civic work of collective pride and beauty.” Today, “UVA Orfelinato de la imaginación” is a pleasant reality for the local residents who are glad to see it standing the test of time.

Prizes help make common sense commonplace

The magnified interest among architects, engineers, urban planners, and developers proves that sustainability has become embedded as “common sense” in the construction industry. The fifth cycle of the competition attracted more than 5,000 entries from authors in 121 countries. 3,606 entries were deemed valid, and more than half of these passed the pre-screening phase. They advanced for qualitative assessment by five independent expert juries in the competition regions Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East Africa, and Asia Pacific. The juries evaluated the projects based on the five “target issues” for sustainable construction set forth by the LafargeHolcim Foundation – principles which define sustainable construction in a holistic way. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners from each region will compete for the Global LafargeHolcim Awards in 2018.

 

Winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 for Latin America

LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2017 Latin America
Publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex, Mexico City, Mexico
Project intermingling flood basins and public amenities in an underprivileged area, with spaces arranged to follow the gravitational flow of water.
By Manuel Perló Cohen and Loreta Castro Reguera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City.

LafargeHolcim Awards Silver 2017 Latin America
Neighborhood center in Paraisópolis, São Paulo, Brazil
Strategic design for a mixed-use civic hub with durable architecture and long-term financing.
By Sol Camacho Davalos, Raddar, and Jonathan Franklin, Exxpon, São Paolo, Brazil.

LafargeHolcim Awards Bronze 2017 Latin America
Sanitation system in informal communities, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Project for blue-green infrastructure that treats wastewater while teaching water stewardship.
By Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg, Ooze Architects, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize 2017 Latin America
Affordable housing neighborhood with integrated workspaces in Cartagena, Colombia
Weaving working into living and houses, the project encourages community building.
By Adèle Naudé Santos, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism, Cambridge, MA, USA.

LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize 2017 Latin America
Minimal-impact research institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Design for a mathematics institute at the edge of the city minimizes site impact and creates an architecture of climactic modulation.
By Vinicius Andrade and Marcelo Morettin, Andrade Morettin Arquitetos, São Paulo, Brazil.

LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize 2017 Latin America
Relocatable modular surgical hospital, Masaya, Nicaragua
A pilot project for a roving rural hospital that mixes temporary prefab construction with long-term local craftsmanship.
By Paula Montoya, any scale architecture, Madrid, Spain; and Javier Alonso, Javier Alonso arquitectos, Cádiz, Spain.

LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize 2017 Latin America
City building strategy for Curridabat, Costa Rica
Ecological and social reimagining of the city converge to make the urban space a better habitat for its citizens – flora, fauna, and humans.
By Irene García Brenes and Edgar Mora Altamirano, Municipality Curridabat, Erick Calderón Acuña, and Alvin Soto Bolaños, Tándem Arquitectura; Antonio Salas, Yuso Proyectos, all in Costa Rica.

LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation 1st prize 2017 Latin America
Tidal energy landscape, Punta Loyola, Argentina
Infrastructure-landscape project for the generation of electric power based on tidal flow in the Río Gallegos estuary.
By Stefano Romagnoli, Juan Cruz Serafini, and Tomás Pont Apóstolo, National University of Cordoba, Argentina.

LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation 2nd prize 2017 Latin America
Public baths and sewage treatment plant, Cerro de Pasco, Peru
Project for hybrid infrastructure and social intervention combining a sewage treatment plant with a public bath in a formerly contaminated lake.
By Boris Lefevre, Marseille, France.

LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation 3rd prize 2017 Latin America
Public facility towers, Córdoba, Argentina
Transferable and adaptable structures providing public amenities in underserviced and typically marginalized neighborhoods of Latin American cities.
By Ángela Ferrero, María Augustina Nieto, María Belén Pizarro, Seizen Uehara, and Lucía Uribe Echevarria, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.

LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation 4th prize 2017 Latin America
Multipurpose telecommunication towers, Medellín, Colombia
Network of mobile telephone telecommu-nication antennas serving multiple functions for the benefit of city neighborhoods.
By Alejandro Vargas Marulanda, Daniel Felipe Zuluaga Londoño, and Iojann Restrepo García, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Medellín, Colombia.

Last Updated: October 05, 2017
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San José, Costa Rica
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