"Holcim Award" in gold goes to Morocco

Prizes for one of the largest competitions in the field of sustainable architecture are currently being awarded in several countries. Presented every three years, the Holcim Award in 2009 will go to projects from Morocco, Vietnam, China and the US.

Sustainability is a global issue. The scope of the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction, called into being by the Swiss Holcim Foundation in 2004, is correspondingly broad. Over 5,000 projects from participants in 90 countries were submitted for the second cycle of the competition taking place from 2007 to 2009. These were first evaluated by regional juries, following which the prize-winners of the individual regions were chosen at the end of 2008 at events in Madrid, Montreal, Mexico City, Marrakesh and New Delhi.

In the second worldwide round of the competition, the dice fell in May 2009. Chaired by Indian architect Charles Correa, the jury awarded a gold, a silver and a bronze prize, as well as a prize for innovation, to the 52 regional prize-winner's. Holcim Award in Gold: Plan for river restoration and urban development in Fez, Morocco
An international team headed by architect Aziza Chaouni (Morocco) and urban planner Takako Tajima (USA) want to restore the heavily polluted Fez River and revive the Medina, the old city district of Fez, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Traditional tanneries are being converted, new squares and pedestrian zones are being created, and wet zones on the banks of the river are being designed.

The jury was impressed by the holistic program, which will improve not only the economic and social life in the city centre but also the ecology of the river. "It is a multi-facetted, multi-functional project that will restore the architecture of the historical Medina and create a living city district", commented the jury.

Holcim Award in silver: Construction of a new university campus in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The design for a new university campus comes from architects Kazuhiro Kojima (Japan), Daisuke Samuki (Japan) and Trong Nghia Vo (Vietnam). The campus is located in the middle of the Mekong Delta. It takes up only a small amount of land and is in harmony with its natural environment, which is characterised by flooded rice fields, mangrove forests, wind and water currents. Daylight and rainwater are used, natural ventilation and shade make air-conditioning unnecessary in most places while a photovoltaic system supplies energy. The local traditional method of construction ensures optimum ventilation: a concrete structure filled with bricks is covered by a facade composed of woven bamboo or mangrove wood.

Holcim Award in bronze: Planning of rural settlements near Beijing, China
The comprehensive concept of architects Yue Zhang (China) and Feng Ni (China) is intended to prevent more people from moving from villages to the cities. It combines the preservation of historical monuments, traditional knowledge, modern technology and professional project management. The project improves the public infrastructure while offering effective protection against environmental pollution, the breakdown of settlements and the loss of cultural land. The planning is regarded as a model of sustainable development for rural communities in booming economic regions.

Innovation prize: Shelter for day labourers in San Francisco, USA
The concept for the modular shelter was created by Liz Ogbu (USA) and John Peterson (USA) of Public Architecture. The flexible structure provides protection against the rain and contains seats, sanitary facilities and a kitchen. With just a few manual adjustments, the shelter can be transformed into a teaching room. Ecological and re-usable materials reduce environmental pollution and costs.

The Holcim Foundation is planning to publish a book, "The Second Holcim Awards" (ISBN 3-7266-0084-1) about the competition before the end of this summer.

Website of the Holcim Awards
Website of the Holcim Foundation
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