Women-led design teams win at Global LafargeHolcim Awards 2018

Projects in Mexico, Niger, and the USA win the 5th Global LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction. As diverse as the three top projects are in terms of geography, program and scale – they are all led by women. Alejandro Aravena (Chile) headed the independent jury of renowned experts. They evaluated the 15 finalist projects from all continents that had qualified for the global phase of the Awards. The USD $2 million competition is an initiative of the LafargeHolcim Foundation.

Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2018 goes to “Hydropuncture”, a publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex in Mexico. The project team is led by design director Loreta Castro Reguera at Taller Capital, and researcher Manuel Perló Cohen from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The infrastructure project in an underprivileged area of Mexico City intermingles flood basins and public amenities with spaces that follow the gravitational logic of flowing water. The jury stated that the sophisticated design addresses an urgent issue at a scale with real impact.

“Legacy Restored”, the Awards Silver winner, is a religious and secular complex in Niger that reinterprets traditional local construction for a new mosque and a community centre. The project was designed by architects Mariam Kamara, atelier masomi, Niger; and Yasaman Esmaili, studio chahar, Iran. It creates a civic space open to all in the village of Dandaji, supporting the education of women and strengthening their presence within the community. The design strategy champions local artisanship, traditional building techniques and materials produced on site.

The community-driven neighbourhood planning project “Grassroots Microgrid” wins Awards Bronze for reimagining empty lots as collective infrastructure for energy and food production as well as for civic engagement in Detroit, USA. The large team of authors is led by Constance C. Bodurow, founding Director of studio[Ci], a transdisciplinary design collaborative in Detroit. The project enables neighbourhoods to reach energy autonomy through micro-infrastructure, leverages vacancy as an asset, and creates a new economic paradigm for community renewal.

The strength of sustainable design

Jury head Alejandro Aravena commented that the global Gold and Silver winning projects act as role models: “They are masterful pieces that demonstrate what sustainable design and construction can achieve. As a community-driven initiative, the Bronze winner opens a path, innovating an approach that will need to be developed further,” said Aravena. The global Awards winning teams are all led by women, and continue a strong level of both participation and success in the competition by female professionals and students.

“Although not something considered during the evaluation process, the jury was delighted by the strong representation and success of women in the LafargeHolcim Awards,” said Aravena.

Aravena explained that the jury selected the water treatment project in Mexico for Gold because it builds large urban infrastructures that serve multiple purposes and become civic spaces. “Using architecture to give dignity to fragile rural communities losing population to urban migration,” was a main reason for awarding Silver to the project in Niger, said Aravena. The Bronze winning project in the USA, finally, uses light and local infrastructure as a means of community building.

“The context of the three global Awards winning projects is complementary, providing models for megacities, urban communities, and remote rural villages,” added Aravena: “They indicate two tendencies within the discourse on sustainability: a focus on infrastructure and new explorations of traditional ways of building.”

From more than 5000 submissions down to six global winners

The fifth International LafargeHolcim Awards competition attracted 5085 projects and visions to be implemented in 131 countries. 1836 projects passed the formal and quality checks and were assessed by independent juries in five competition regions: Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East Africa and Asia Pacific. Eleven prizes carrying a total of USD $330000 per region were handed over to winning teams in 2017. The three main winners per region automatically qualified for the global awards; and the 40 Acknowledgement and Next Generation prize-winners were eligible for the Awards Ideas prizes 2018. The prize pool for the global phase of the Awards totals USD $350000. The International LafargeHolcim Awards cycle spans three years, the sixth competition will open for entries in mid-2019.


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