Canadians win $20K LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation prize for North America

"Off the Wall," a research project for making building components from food-processing byproducts, has won this year’s 2nd prize.

The LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation prizes for North America has announced its winners. The Canadian project “Off the Wall,” a research initiative for making building components from food-processing byproducts, is this year’s second prize winner. It will receive a $20,000 USD prize, and will advance to the global stage of the competition.
The Next Generation of the LafargeHolcim Awards recognizes the visionary concepts and bold ideas of young professionals and students. In the competition region of North America, the jury selected four entries to receive Next Generation prizes.

“The issue of sustainability in the construction sector is of paramount importance because the construction and maintenance of buildings accounts for 40 percent of both energy and material consumption worldwide,” says the organization. “In view of climate change and diminishing resources, new approaches are needed along the entire value chain of the construction industry. Developing and applying these new approaches are what the LafargeHolcim Awards promote. Every three years, the competition is held in five world regions and then globally. The prize money totals $2 million (USD).”

The project—by Daniel Francisco Gonzalez, a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Sustainability Management program, and Noor Shaikh, the co-founder of Waterloo-based IXIM bioproducts—proposes a sustainable production method for alternative, sustainably produced materials including insulation and wall veneer.
The masonry elements are made of reclaimed cement-kiln dust and agroindustrial byproducts. Fish processing residue is used as a natural binder. The produced blocks will have different colors, weights, and textures depending on the materials used. Above all, production requires little energy.

“Our model is based on circular economy,” says Daniel Francisco Gonzalez. “We use byproducts from other industries as aggregates to produce new quality building materials. We are also reducing the amount of virgin materials needed in construction.”

The jury considers this an elegant way of repurposing agro-industrial waste. It promotes the use of local resources, and the blocks being produced can be adapted to different regions of the world.

The LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation prizes for North America winners also include:

Awards Next Generation 1st prize (USD 25,000)
Unmaking Architecture, New York – Management tool for reusing salvaged materials An artificial-intelligence-based tool to optimize the reuse of demolition rubble.
Winner: Daniel Marshall, Teaching Fellow (2019/2020), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

• Awards Next Generation 3rd prize (USD 15,000)
Performative Landscapes in Florida – Contextual reconversion of an industrial site
A design for converting an impacted site on Tampa Bay into a productive and attractive landscape.
Winner: Samuel Clovis, architect, Los Angeles, USA

• Awards Next Generation 4th prize (USD 10,000)
Pure Inhale, Connecticut – Plant-based design module research
A research-based project deploys vegetation to tackle environmental, health, and social challenges in urban areas.
Winner: Phoebe Mankiewicz, Ph.D. student, Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, New Haven, CT, USA