This is the fifth time the Holcim Awards competition is being conducted. Over the years, more than 200 projects have been awarded worldwide. More than half the winning projects have been built or are scheduled for completion soon. Thus, the Holcim Awards are not about “castles in the air” but about tangible measures that advance the science of construction. This aspect of tangible change is underscored by a prize that is awarded for the first time in 2017: the Holcim Building Better Recognition. It is awarded for a winning project from a previous competition cycle, one that has been realized and has stood the test of time as a particularly successful example of sustainable building.
In Asia Pacific, this accolade went to Robust Architecture Workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka, represented by Milinda Pathiraja. Their design for a community library in Ambepussa, Sri Lanka, built with the support of former army personnel engaged in the nation’s civil war, shows that “turning swords into ploughshares” can be realized even today. The project received the regional Holcim Awards Bronze for Asia Pacific in 2014 and the Global Holcim Awards Silver in 2015. Today the library is a source of knowledge for veterans and the local community. The construction methods were selected specifically to help transition members of the army to civil life.