Canadian design wins big at LafargeHolcim sustainability awards

Last week, designers, architects, and engineers from across North America gathered in Chicago to celebrate the best of sustainable design across the continent at the LafargeHolcim Sustainable Construction Awards. Organized by the non-profit LafargeHolcim Foundation, the worldwide awards — which take place at the regional level, before converging on a global best-of showcase — have grown since their founding in 2003 as sustainability has evolved to become a fulcrum of contemporary design.

This year, Canadians were well-represented at North America’s regional showcase. Jason Heinrich from the University of British Columbia (and DIALOG) took home the Second Prize in the Next Generation category, open to designers under 30. Heinrich’s project envisions a holistically sustainable neighbourhood in Vancouver, combining energy-efficient building performance with a grassroots framework for “agent-based change.”

Jason Heinrich of UBC and DIALOG, LafargeHolcim Sustainability Awards
Jason Heinrich of UBC and DIALOG

Meanwhile the University of Buffalo’s Sarah Gunawan claimed 3rd Place in the Next Generation Prize. Gunawan’s playful project imagines a wildlife habitat adapted into the single-family homes that make up Markham, Ontario. Birds and bats and raccoons are welcomed into the suburban neighbourhoods of North America through “ecological prosthetics” that would be attached to homes.

Sarah Gunawan, University of Buffalo, LafargeHolcim Awards
Sarah Gunawan of the University of Buffalo

In the main draw, the Silver Award was claimed by Vancouver’s Oliver Lang and Cynthia Wilson of LWPAC (Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Culture). Conceptualizing a highly flexible system of modular mid-rise structures, Lang and Wilson’s project allows for a tremendous diversity of forms, treating sustainability as a social and cultural goal.

Oliver Lang, Cynthia Wilson, LafargeHolcim
Oliver Lang and Cynthia Wilson (centre)

According to the Foundation, “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.”

A full list of this year’s North American winners is available below:

Gold 2017  — Bottom-up neighborhood planning, Detroit, USA: This neighborhood-scale project reimagines empty lots as collective infrastructure for energy and food production as well as civic engagement. By Constance C. Bodurow, studio[Ci], Detroit, USA

Silver 2017 — Modular mid-rise housing, Vancouver, Canada: This project envisages mid-rise, mixed-use housing through a modular panel system that can adapt to create a variety of unit layouts and architectural forms. By Oliver Lang and Cynthia Wilson, LWPAC + Intelligent City, Vancouver, Canada

Bronze 2017 — Net-zero greenhouse for Wellesley College, Boston, USA: This project reimagines the greenhouse as a locally sourced, low-energy building linking Wellesley College to the local community. By Sheila Kennedy and Juan Frano Violich, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Boston, USA

Acknowledgement Prize 2017 — Modular edible insect farm, New York City, USA: This pavilion demonstrates the possibility of local insect farming as a form of protein with low-resource intensity. By Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Acknowledgement Prize 2017— UCLA Warner Graduate Art Studio renovation and addition, Culver City, CA, USA: Addition to and adaptive reuse of a former wallpaper factory using elemental construction, Graduate Art Studios at UCLA. By Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, Johnston Marklee, Los Angeles, USA

Acknowledgement Prize 2017 — All-timber high-rise load-bearing structure, Portland, OR, USA: Pioneering design proposal entitled “framework” for the first timber high-rise in the USA. By Thomas F. Robinson, LEVER Architecture, and Anyeley Hallova, project^, Portland, OR, USA

Acknowledgement Prize 2017  —Urban watershed framework plan, Conway, AR, USA: Planning toolkit for a watershed in Conway constructs new zones of green connectivity for flood management and water filtration. By Stephen Luoni, University of Arkansas Community Design Center, Fayetteville, AR, USA

Next Generation 1st Prize 2017 — Prototype for a cooling roof, Princeton, NJ, USA: Research investigation on cooling large-scale structures using water on the roof as a thermal insulator and solar reflector. By Georgina Baronian, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA

Next Generation 2nd Prize 2017 — Protocol for agent-based neighborhood transformation, Vancouver, Canada: Proposal foregrounding stakeholder participation and its effects on architectural form. By Jason Heinrich, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Next Generation 3rd Prize 2017 — Retrofitting residential neighborhoods, Markham, ON, Canada: Invention of so-called “ecological prosthetics” as habitats for birds, bats, and raccoons in suburban neighborhoods across Ontario. By Sarah Gunawan, University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, Buffalo, NY, USA

Next Generation 4th Prize 2017 — Climate control experiments for enhanced comfort levels, Boston, USA: Climate control exploration for increased comfort levels in buildings, as alternative to contemporary HVAC systems, and for generation of space and form in architecture. By Peteris Lazovskis, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA