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Africa Middle East sustainable construction projects receive prizes in regional Holcim Awards
Zurich/Johannesburg, October 14, 2005. USD 220,000 in prize money was presented to the best submissions from Africa Middle East in the Holcim Awards competition for sustainable construction projects. The competition run by the Swiss Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction in collaboration with five of the world’s leading technical universities aims to promote sustainable approaches to the built environment.

At the awards ceremony held in Johannesburg, Minister of Housing, Dr Lindiwe Sisulu (South Africa), said in her keynote address that sustainability was an essential part of creating the built environment of the future. Urban development and human settlements, particularly urban slums in the context of rapid population growth across the continent, were critical issues that need to be addressed to enable fundamental progress to be achieved collectively: "Meeting economic, social and environmental needs with regard to the development of the built environment is a key to sustained progress - and sharing innovative is an essential component," she said.

Contribution to Sustainable Development

The awards ceremony for the region of Africa Middle East was held at the iconic Sandton Convention Centre, site of the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit) in 2002. More than 300 politicians, diplomats, architects, and business people from 16 countries attended the event. Amongst them were Lufto Dlamini, Minister of Enterprise and Employment of the Kingdom of Swaziland, and Kamal Arifi, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in South Africa. In his welcome address Holcim Foundation Board Deputy Chairman, Urs Bieri (Switzerland), stressed that progress and sustainable development are closely linked to the name Holcim: "Through the Holcim Foundation we are encouraging initiatives in support of sustainable approaches to the provision of housing and infrastructure in industrializing and industrialized nations alike."

Head of the Holcim Awards jury for Africa Middle East and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), School of Architecture and Planning lecturer, Dr Daniel Irurah (South Africa), said sustainability was about applying the broader requirements of all stakeholders to a specific context. "There is no single definition of sustainable construction - it is a living thing that one should contribute to daily," he said.

Holcim Awards Gold 2005 to artisan training center in Morocco

The first prize of USD 100,000 went to a design project for an artisan training center at Tamtarga, in the province of Taroudante near Marrakech, Morocco by a team led by architect Abdelrhni Fenjiro of Rabat, Morocco. Dr Irurah said the entry showed a skillful engagement with a mountainous region that is isolated due to difficult terrain, and poor roads and communication infrastructure: "The project respects the vibrant and dynamic local culture by adopting a community-driven approach towards the development of both the functional program as well as the generation of a design solution with extremely limited resources," he said. The approach leverages strong partnerships that ensure the feasibility of the project, which promises to greatly improve the overall quality of life.

Holcim Awards Silver 2005 to caravan site upgrade in South Africa

The second prize of USD 50,000 went to a project to develop a gatehouse, six chalets and conduct renovations to the existing ablution block at a caravan site in Nieuwoudtville, South Africa by architects Andrew Raymond Horn, Flavio Tedeschi, and Anne Marie Moore of Cape Town, South Africa. This project aims to support the holistic development on the Bokkeveld Plateau, known as the bulb capital of the world. Dr Irurah said the project was praised for its systematic approach to addressing the target issues of sustainable construction in a non-invasive manner that respects the context in which the project is situated. "Highly-transferable and well-considered selection of local materials and construction techniques optimize renewable energy," he said. The use of use of composting toilets rather than water-based sewage allows great water recycling following preliminary treatment in a constructed wetland.

Holcim Awards Bronze 2005 for an environmental resource and education center in SA

Third prize of USD 25,000 went to the Tsoga Environmental Center and Local Sustainability Catalyst in Cape Town, South Africa by a team led by architect and urban designer Alastair Francis Rendall of Cape Town, South Africa. The project was selected for convincingly presenting a vision of community self-sufficiency. Dr Irurah said the project focuses on provision of food gardens, nurseries, compositing and domestic waste recycling: "The project is significant for promoting new jobs and skills transfer throughout the local population and thereby empowering the community's decision-making capacities to improve the quality of life," he said.

Acknowledgment prizes and Encouragement prizes

Three Acknowledgment prizes of USD 10,000 were also awarded. The Acknowledgement prizes went to an ecological housing design for semi-arid zones from Morocco, a "breathing house" project that utilizes natural ventilation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and an interactive environmental park in Jwaneng, Botswana. In presenting the prizes, University of Pretoria Department of Architecture lecturer and member of the Holcim Awards jury for Africa Middle East, Dr Amira Osman, said that all three projects may well prove to be pioneers in sustainable construction: "The projects showed innovative approaches to ethical, energy consumption and stakeholder engagement, and could equally be applied in other locations," she said.

Encouragement prizes which recognize the achievements of young professionals whose projects are particularly inspirational were also presented at the Holcim Awards. Director of Architecture, consultant to the Prime Minister of Morocco and member of the Holcim Awards jury for Africa Middle East, Dr Saïd Mouline, said involving the next generation was critical: "Including the young in the approach is especially important because sustainability must always be forward-looking," he said when presenting the prizes. An urban rehabilitation, preservation and development project for El Quseir, Egypt and a housing renewal project for Kibera Settlement, Nairobi, Kenya received Encouragement prizes of USD 7,500 each.

Independent, first-class jury

The projects submitted in the competition were judged by an independent jury comprising leading architects, engineers, and university professors. The thirteen-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 the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits, South Africa), 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.

Diverse interest in the competition from region Africa Middle East

The competition attracted interest in Africa Middle East from more countries than any other region of the competition, with more than 140 entries from 34 countries spanning from Iran to South Africa. 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.

Nieuwoudtville Award

Eco Design Architects was awarded the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction 2005 & took silver in the Africa and Middle East Region for their designs for the Nieuwoudtville Caravan Site Upgrade

Click here for more info on the award.


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Mamre Revitalization Project is an initiative by the City of Cape Town to promote the preservation and restoration of Mamre’s rich heritage resources, while helping to alleviate poverty and promote skills transfer. Eco Design Architects have been appointed by the city to assist the community with this project. Click here for more info or go to Mamre Revitalization Project Website