The second cycle of the Holcim Awards competition has reached its pinnacle: the top sustainable construction projects out of thousands of submissions from all continents have been selected. The four winning entries are a river remediation scheme in Morocco, a greenfield university campus in Vietnam, a rural planning strategy in China, and a shelter for day laborers in the USA. A series of prize-handovers will be held at the site of each project to celebrate the winners and their highly-acclaimed examples of sustainable construction.
Almost 5,000 sustainable construction projects and visions from 121 countries entered the five regional Holcim Awards competitions in 2008. Winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in each region automatically qualified for the Global Holcim Awards competition in 2009. The global jury was headed by Charles Correa (architect, India) and included Peter Head (structural engineer, UK), Enrique Norten (architect, Mexico/USA), Saskia Sassen (sociologist, USA), Hans-Rudolf Schalcher (civil engineer, Switzerland), and Rolf Soiron (economist, Switzerland).
Gold for River remediation and urban development scheme in Fez, Morocco
A project centered upon restoration of the river through the UNESCO World Heritage listed Medina of Fez was awarded the top prize of USD 300,000 and the Global Holcim Awards Gold. A youthful and international project team led by architect Aziza Chaouni (Morocco) and urban planner Takako Tajima (USA) are remediating the heavily-polluted river Fez to revitalize the ancient heart of the city. The approach includes a series of interventions to renovate traditional tanneries, create public spaces and pedestrian zones, and restore wetlands as well as biodiversity.
The jury applauded the scheme for creating a chain of recovery projects to enable future sub-projects to be added â€“ and for addressing the economic and social life of the city together with the ecology of the river. â€œThis is a multi-sited, multi-functional project organized around the recovery of the river. Core components rehabilitate the architecture of this historic Medina, creating a functional and viable urban precinct,â€ stated the jury report.
The project authors formed NGO Sauvons Oued Fez (Save the Fez River) after winning the regional Holcim Awards Gold 2008 Africa Middle East. The NGO is a network to advance the sub-projects of the remediation and encourage community involvement.
Silver for Low-impact greenfield university campus in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The Global Holcim Awards Silver with USD 200,000 in prize money was awarded to a new campus for the University of Architecture in Ho Chi Minh City, designed by architect Kazuhiro Kojima (Japan). Further contributors to the project were Daisuke Sanuki (Japan) and Trong Nghia Vo (Vietnam). The project avoids massive land reclamation on an island in the Mekong Delta and aims for harmony with all elements of the surrounding ecosystem: flooding rice fields, mangroves, winds and seasonal changes.
Electricity consumption is cleverly reduced through the inclusion of solar lighting and extensive use of photo-voltaic cells to meet energy requirements. Natural ventilation and solar shading mean that most locations on campus will need no air conditioning, and rainwater is harvested for gray water use and cooling through vaporization. A time-honored local construction method â€“ brick-filled concrete frames finished with a faÃ§ade of porous bamboo or mangrove timber â€“ is used to enhance ventilation.
Intriguing with its intertwined shapes, the project received the Holcim Awards Silver 2008 Asia Pacific, and now convinced the global jury: â€œThe gently bended ovals characterize the layout of the buildings â€“ their intersections create a diversity of large halls and small rooms. This allows the university to organically configure itself along changing ideas and needs to comeâ€, explained the jury report.
Bronze for Sustainable planning for a rural community in Beijing, China
A rural planning design for a suburban village in Beijing, China received the Global Holcim Awards Bronze and USD 100,000 for effectively combining heritage preservation, traditional knowledge, local materials, modern technology, and professional project management. The comprehensive urban planning strategy led by Yue Zhang (China) and Feng Ni (China) improves logistics, public utilities and services while meeting stringent ecological and energy-saving targets for new buildings.
â€œOne of the outstanding elements of the approach is the deep analysis of the current physical and cultural situation of the community including numbers of people, density of buildings and status of biodiversity. Field surveys and door to door interviews were carried outâ€, the jury stated.
The project applies a detailed approach to challenges of pollution, urban sprawl, loss of agricultural land, food security and limited resources. The planning has a high potential to become a role model for the sustainable development of rural communities and urban districts in emerging economics and was recipient of the Holcim Awards Gold Asia Pacific in 2008.
â€œInnovationâ€ prize for Self-contained day labor station in San Francisco, USA
The Global Holcim Awards â€œInnovationâ€ prize including USD 50,000 went to a project that establishes informal stations where day laborers can meet and wait for casual work. The â€œInnovationâ€ prize is a global recognition for a project that demonstrates a strong element of creativity or inspiration.
Designed by Liz Ogbu (USA) and John Peterson (USA) of San Francisco-based nonprofit Public Architecture, the flexible structures offer shelter, benches, washrooms, a kitchen and an education/training space â€“ creating a sensitive environment for people who find themselves on the edge of the community and at the same time addressing health and safety needs. Green and recycled materials are used to minimize the environmental footprint and economic cost of each facility.
The project won the regional Holcim Awards Silver 2008 North America, and also impressed the global jury mostly for its far-reaching impact on a whole community: â€œThe structure provides a solution to what the surrounding neighborhoods often experience as social disorder and what local police forces find difficult to handle. Thus, the benefits extend to a larger social context than that of the workers themselvesâ€, the jury noted.
International finalists illustrate broad scope of sustainable construction
The Global Holcim Awards finalists illustrated a broad scope of approaches to sustainable construction and also included projects from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Hungary, India, Slovenia, Switzerland, UAE and Uganda, and involved additional project teams from Japan and Spain. Rolf Soiron (Switzerland), who represented the sponsor of the Awards as Chairman of the Board of Holcim Ltd in the global jury, commented that the enormous challenges of sustainable construction demanded many innovative contributions adapted to local needs. â€œThe intrinsic values and merits of the projects show that all have unique features which, in their specific environments, do contribute and bring something new to the table,â€ he said.
To compare the diverse submissions in the Holcim Awards competitions, the juries use the â€œtarget issuesâ€ for sustainable construction which address the triple bottom line of environmental performance, social responsibility and economic efficiency and also cover architectural quality and the suitability for broad-scale application of the projectâ€™s features. Chair of Planning and Management in Construction at the ETH Zurich, Hans-Rudolf Schalcher (Switzerland), as member of the global jury explained that transferability of ideas was a common factor in each of the winning projects. â€œAll four winners illustrate in a perfect way what sustainable construction means â€“ many good ideas to be transferred within a professional area of expertise, and an impact on furthering sustainable constructionâ€, he said.
Next initiatives to promote sustainable construction
Along with the Holcim Awards, the Holcim Foundation furthers a range of sustainability initiatives such as the Holcim Forum â€“ an array of symposiums on sustainable construction for experts and professionals from all over the world. The next Forum will be held in Mexico City, April 15 to 17, 2010 on the theme of Re-inventing Construction. The third Holcim Awards competition cycle will open for entries July 1, 2010.
The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction competitions seek innovative, future-oriented and tangible construction projects to promote sustainable responses to the technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues affecting building and construction on a local, regional and global level. The competitions are run by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation, offer USD 2 million in prize money per three-year cycle, and are sponsored by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries.
Images: Holcim Awards
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