Stephen Siu-Yu Lau recently talked about his role as a member of the Holcim Awards jury for region Asia Pacific in 2014 in an interview for professional media in South East Asia. The juries consist of independent, renowned representatives from science, business and society.
He is Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong SAR of China. Stephen Siu-Yu Lau is also currently an Adjunct Professor at Tongji University, Shanghai and at the Southeast University (Dongda), Nanjing , China.
Q: How do you expect entries in the 4th Holcim Awards cycle to differ from the previous cycle?
A: If entries follow on from the trend established since the 1st Holcim Awards competition, then there will be more entries from more countries – and also more entries with teams from countries other than the country where the project is planned.
In addition, there are two important changes to the conditions of entry and online entry form, which may impact on some entries:
Firstly, eligibility for the “Next Generation” category has been adjusted and now is based on age (18-30), rather than current university attendance which was used in the previous competition. This might mean more entries from young professionals – or from teams combining university students and young professionals.
Secondly, there is a larger allocation of space to respond to the “target issues” for sustainable construction in one large block, rather than smaller blocks requiring a response on each “target issue”. We anticipate that this will allow project authors to focus on the key responses to sustainability in construction offered by the entry.
Q: The “target issues” of the Holcim Awards competition seem quite open. Could you provide some examples and explain how the jury will compare entries?
A: The Holcim Foundation intended the “target issues” to apply to the wide scope of projects eligible for entry in the competition, including building and civil engineering works; landscape, urban design and infrastructure projects; and also materials, products and construction technologies.
The “target issue” focused on ecological performance “Environmental quality and resource efficiency – Planet” covers a broad range of issues. At the building scale, sustainable construction aims to provide long-lasting, healthful, and useful buildings while conserving finite resources of materials and energy by using durable, recyclable, and renewable materials, through energy-efficient design, and by using environmentally neutral energy sources (wind, sun, geothermal, etc.) and mechanisms (shading, simple evaporation cooling, etc.).
At the urban and regional scales, sustainable construction involves planning that preserves environmental quality, conserves energy through efficient design, reduces waste and consumption through sensible design, and reduces pollution by establishing efficient transportation networks.
In the field of product and materials development, sustainability requires low environmental impacts over the material’s life cycle, energy and material efficiency in construction, operation and maintenance, as well as robust products and technologies.
Q: According to your own experience in sustainable construction and as a member of a Holcim Awards jury, can you give some suggestions or advice to applicants?
A: “Sustainability” is one of the World’s most talked about but least understood words. Its meaning is often clouded by differing interpretations and by a tendency for the subject to be treated superficially.
With this in mind, it is clear that substance is critical. It is important that the project author concisely explains the advantages of their project and how it goes beyond conventional approaches to sustainable construction. Claims should be substantiated with relevant measures, explanations and observations. Also, authors should aim to create the most compelling submission possible with appropriate images and diagrams – and many additional tips included in the “Step-by-step” guide to entering the competition which is available at:
4th International Holcim Awards
The Holcim Awards is one of the most significant competitions in its field in terms of reputation and international scope. The fourth cycle of the competition offering a total of USD 2 million in prize money is now open for entries. The competition seeks leading projects from industry professionals and bold ideas from the “Next Generation” that contribute to sustainability within architecture, building, civil engineering, landscape and urban design, as well as construction materials and technologies. Entries must be submitted online at www.holcimawards.org by March 24, 2014.
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