Women led projects take top prizes at LafargeHolcim sustainability awards

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, which announces the first change in Chairman since its inception in 2003.

Hydropuncture — LafargeHolcim Awards 2018 Global Gold Winner.
Hydropuncture — LafargeHolcim Awards 2018 Global Gold Winner.

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.

Hydropuncture — LafargeHolcim Awards 2018 Global Gold Winner.
Hydropuncture — LafargeHolcim Awards 2018 Global Gold Winner.

“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 neighborhood planning project “Grassroots Microgrid” wins Awards Bronze for re-imagining 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 neighborhoods to reach energy autonomy through micro-infrastructure, leverages vacancy as an asset, and creates a new economic paradigm for community renewal.

The 2018 jury. Photo via LafargeHolcim Foundation.
The 2018 jury. Photo via LafargeHolcim Foundation.

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.”

LafargeHolcim Global Sustainable Construction Awards 2018

Gold: Hydropuncture – Publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex, Mexico City, Mexico. Project intermingling flood basins and public amenities in an underprivileged area, with spaces arranged to follow the gravitational flow of water. By Loreta Castro Reguera, Taller Capital; and Manuel Perló Cohen, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.

Silver: Legacy Restored – Religious and secular complex, Dandaji, Niger. A re-interpretation of traditional local construction for a new mosque and community center, creating a space in the village open to all. By Mariam Kamara, atelier masomi, Niamey, Niger; and Yasaman Esmaili, studio chahar, Tehran, Iran.

Bronze: Grassroots Microgrid – Bottom-up neighborhood planning, Detroit, USA. This neighborhood-scale
project re-imagines empty lots as collective infrastructure for energy and food production as well as for
civic engagement. By Constance C. Bodurow, studio[Ci], Detroit, USA, and a team of further authors.

Ideas Prize: Refrigerating Jar – Shea butter storage for Nyingali community, Karaga District, Ghana. The striking
towers of the storage units are designed for passive cooling and allude to traditional local architecture.
By Wonjoon Han, Gahee Van, VHAN; and Sookhee Yuk, Make Africa Better, Seoul, South Korea.

Ideas Prize: Cooling Roof – Prototype for an evaporative roof for radiant cooling, Cherry Valley, CA, 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.

Ideas Prize: Territorial Figure – Tidal energy landscape, Punta Loyola, Argentina. Infrastructure-landscape project
for the generation of electric power based on tidal flow in the Río Gallegos estuary. By Stefano Romagnoli, Juan Cruz Serafini, and Tomás Pont Apóstolo, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina.