Holcim Foundation



Integrated solutions in Burkina Faso, Brazil and Germany win top awards in sustainable construction

A school project in Gando, Burkina Faso, a multifunctional community center in São Paulo, Brazil, and an urban renewal plan in Berlin, Germany are the winners of the Global Holcim Awards for 2012. These leading sustainable construction projects were selected from 15 finalist submissions by a jury of independent experts led by Enrique Norten. The finalists were the regional Holcim Awards 2011 winning projects that had been selected from more than 6,000 entries in 146 countries.

All 53 prize-winning projects at the regional level also competed for further prizes based on their contributions to sustainable construction through innovative building materials and construction technologies. The Global Holcim Innovation prizes conferred by a jury of materials and industry experts led by Harry Gugger went to projects in Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

“Outstanding environment” – Gold for a school in Burkina Faso

A school project in Burkina Faso that integrates social and environmental performance won the top prize of USD 200,000. The design for the school in the village of Gando was created by Diébédo Francis Kéré of Kéré Architecture in Berlin. Passive cooling during oppressive summer heat creates an indoor climate conducive to learning by routing air through subterranean tubes, planting vegetation, stack-effect air currents, and using double-skin roofs and façades. The project also improves social conditions by providing jobs and training, and restores the environment through reforestation.

Principal and Founder of TEN Arquitectos (Mexico/USA) and head of the jury, Enrique Norten, applauded the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 winning project for its successful approach to community development, climatic mitigation and aesthetics. “This beautiful school is not only an elegant design solution, but it also delivers training and employment, uses local building materials, and – with simple means – creates an outstanding environment from a social viewpoint and also in constructive terms,” he said.

“Opportunities for the community” – Silver for a multifunctional community center in Brazil

The Global Holcim Awards Silver was awarded to a project that transforms an eroded landscape into a productive zone and dynamic public space. With about 100,000 inhabitants, the Paraisópolis favela in São Paulo is one of the world’s largest informal communities. The project led by architects Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of Urban Think Tank, Brazil, includes a terraced public space with areas for urban agriculture, a water management system, a public amphitheater, a music school, a small concert hall, sports facilities, public spaces and transport infrastructure. It prevents further erosion and dangerous mudslides on the steep slopes and provides social and cultural infrastructure.

Enrique Norten praised the project for its unifying concept, premium cultural facilities, architectural quality, and integrated involvement of the local community in a socially-inclusive planning and management approach. “This important intervention has the capacity to provide satisfaction and opportunities for the local community that creates both connectivity and the construction in a viable way,” he said.

“Celebrating urban living” – Bronze for the “Flussbad” project in Germany

An urban plan for transforming an under-utilized arm of the River Spree in Berlin into a natural 745m-long “swimming pool” won the Global Holcim Awards Bronze 2012. The Flussbad project in the heart of the historic city creates a swimming zone equivalent to 17 Olympic-sized pools, and provides a public urban recreation space for both residents and tourists adjacent to the Museuminsel. The project which includes a 1.8ha reed bed natural reserve with sub-surface sand bed filters to purify the water was developed by a team led by architects Jan and Tim Edler of realities united, Germany.

Enrique Norten explained that the project creates a direct and strong impact on the quality of urban life and positive ecological contribution through remediation of the city’s waterways. “The project celebrates urban living in one of the world’s greatest cities, and also honors the city’s connection to its waterways,” he said.

Additional prizes for materials and technology breakthroughs

Global Holcim Innovation prizes of USD 150,000 in total were allocated by a separate jury and conferred for the first time. These prizes focus upon contributions to innovative building materials and construction technologies in the context of sustainable construction. This additional recognition of projects submitted in the Holcim Awards reflects the increasing emphasis on driving and fostering innovative new solutions by Holcim, the sponsor of the competition.

The Holcim Innovation 1st prize 2012 went to Gramazio & Kohler, Architektur und Digitale Fabrikation at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), for a construction technology using molds that combine existing processes and materials in a new way to fabricate cast-on-site concrete structures with reusable and digitally-fabricated wax formwork. This approach saves material and energy compared to traditional molds, such as expanded polystyrene blocks for single-use applications or flexed sheets of material which are limited to low curvatures. Principal of Harry Gugger Studio (Switzerland) and head of the Innovation prize jury, Harry Gugger, acclaimed the project as an advance in the use of molding for complex forms. “Until now, complex concrete forms have required molds that are difficult to build and created a great deal of waste – but this approach eliminates both of these challenges,” he said.

The Holcim Innovation 2nd prize was presented to a collaborative project by German Barkow Leibinger Architects, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, Technische Hochschule Berlin (TU Berlin), and Transsolar Energietechnik. Their low-cost apartments project in Hamburg uses innovative techniques and materials including prefabricated lightweight-concrete elements with recycled foamed glass as an internal aggregate. The monolithic structures are simple and lightweight, but remain formally complex and ambitious in delivering aesthetic impact.

A team of four students from the AA School of Architecture in London, UK, won the Holcim Innovation 3rd prize for their research project on an efficient cast concrete fabrication system for geometrically complex building elements. This approach considers simultaneously the design of free and ambitious shapes, as well as the material efficiency and economic performance of the construction process.

International competition for projects in sustainable construction

The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction competition seeks innovative, future-oriented and tangible construction projects to promote sustainable responses to the technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues affecting building and construction on a local, regional and global level. To compare the diverse submissions, the juries use the “target issues” for sustainable construction which address the triple bottom line of environmental performance, social responsibility and economic efficiency and also cover architectural quality and the suitability for broad-scale application and multiplication of the project’s features. The competition has been run by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation since 2004, offers USD 2 million in prize money per three-year cycle, and is supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries.


Overview of winners, finalists and jury members

Global Holcim Awards 2012 - Winners

Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 – USD 200,000
Secondary school with passive ventilation system, Gando, Burkina Faso 
Diébédo Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture, Germany

Global Holcim Awards Silver 2012 – USD 100,000
Urban remediation and civic infrastructure hub, São Paulo Brazil 
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, Urban Think Tank, Brazil

Global Holcim Awards Bronze 2012 – USD 50,000
Urban renewal and swimming-pool precinct, Berlin, Germany
Jan and Tim Edler, realities united, Germany

Global Holcim Awards 2012 - Finalists

Belgium: City hall and civic center recycled from former factory, Oostkamp
Carlos Arroyo, Carlos Arroyo Arquitectos, Spain

Canada: Regional food-gathering nodes and logistics network, Iqaluit, Nunavut
Mason White & Lola Sheppard, Lateral Office, Canada

Chile: Sustainable post-tsunami reconstruction master plan, Constitución
Alejandro Aravena, ELEMENTAL S.A., Chile

Italy: Lifestyle apartments and infrastructure recycled from former freeway viaducts, near Scilla
Philippe Rizzotti, Philippe Rizzotti Architects, France

Malaysia: Ecologically-designed retail and commercial building, Putrajaya
Kenneth Yeang, T. R. Hamzah & Yeang International Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia

Mexico: Urban regeneration master plan, Ciudad Juárez
Jose Castillo, arquitectura 911sc, Mexico

Morocco: Training center for sustainable construction, Marrakesh
Anna Heringer, Architect, Germany

Pakistan: Locally-manufactured cob and bamboo school building, Jar Maulwi
Eike Roswag, Ziegert Roswag Seiler Architekten Ingenieure, Germany

Palestine: Sustainable refurbishment of a primary school, near Al Azarije
Claudia Romano, ARCò - Architettura e Cooperazione, Italy

Thailand: Urban agriculture and factory conversion, Bangkok
Isavaret Tamonut, TTH Trading Co., Ltd, Thailand

USA: Energy and water efficient border control station, Van Buren, Maine
Julie Snow, Julie Snow Architects, USA

USA: Zero net energy school building, Los Angeles
Gloria Lee, Swift Lee Office, USA

Global Holcim Awards 2012 – Jury members

  • Enrique Norten, architect (Head), Principal and Founder, TEN Arquitectos, Mexico/USA
  • Maria Atkinson, administrator, Group Head of Sustainability, Lend Lease and Managing Director, Sustainability Solutions, Australia
  • Aaron Betsky, architect/critic, Director, Cincinnati Art Museum, USA
  • Mario Botta, architect, Principal, Mario Botta Architetto, Switzerland
  • Yolanda Kakabadse, administrator, President of WWF International and Chair of the Advisory Board of Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano, Ecuador
  • Julia Marton-Lefèvre, administrator, Director General, IUCN, France/Switzerland
  • Rahul Mehrotra, architect, Principal, Rahul Mehrotra Associates, India
  • Hans-Rudolf Schalcher, civil engineer, Professor em. for Planning and Management in Construction at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Switzerland
  • Werner Sobek, civil engineer, Director of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany
  • Rolf Soiron, administrator, Chairman, Holcim, Switzerland


Global Holcim Innovation prize 2012 - Winners

Global Holcim Innovation 1st prize – USD 75,000
High-efficiency concrete formwork technology, Zurich, Switzerland
Matthias Kohler, Gramazio & Kohler, Architektur und Digitale Fabrikation, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Global Holcim Innovation 2nd prize – USD 50,000
Low-cost apartments incorporating smart materials, Hamburg, Germany
Frank Barkow, Barkow Leibinger Architects, Germany

Global Holcim Innovation 3rd prize – USD 25,000
Efficient fabrication system for geometrically complex building elements, London, United Kingdom
Povilas Cepaitis, AA School of Architecture, United Kingdom

Global Holcim Innovation prize 2012 - Finalists

All 53 prize-winning projects at the regional level (including 38 Acknowledgement and “Next Generation” winners) were finalists in the Global Holcim Innovation competition, and are listed by region at: http://www.holcimawards.org/regional2011

Global Holcim Innovation prize 2012 – Jury members

  • Harry Gugger, architect (Head), Principal, Harry Gugger Studio; Professor of Architecture, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
  • Markus Akermann, economist, former CEO, Holcim, Switzerland
  • Bernard Fontana, engineer, CEO, Holcim, France/Switzerland
  • Sujit Ghosh, civil engineer, CEO, Holcim Singapore, Singapore
  • Vanderley M John, civil engineer, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Construction Engineering, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Brazil
  • Roland Köhler, economist, Member of the Executive Committee, Holcim, Switzerland
  • Hans-Rudolf Schalcher, civil engineer, Professor em. for Planning and Management in Construction, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Switzerland
  • Stuart Smith, structural engineer, Director, Arup Group, UK
Last Updated: March 29, 2012
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