Excelling in the competition region of Latin America were four projects in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia that sensitively deal with fundamental aspects of sustainability.
The Holcim Awards are the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design. The Next Generation category recognizes the visionary concepts and bold ideas of young professionals and students.
The issue of sustainability in the construction sector is of paramount importance because the construction and maintenance of buildings accounts for 40 percent of both energy and material consumption worldwide. In view of climate change and diminishing resources, new approaches are needed along the entire value chain of the construction industry. Developing and applying these new approaches are what the Holcim Awards promote. Every three years, the competition is held in five world regions and then globally. The prize money totals USD 2 million.
The number of entries shows how intensively specialists from the fields of architecture, engineering, urban planning, materials science, construction technology, and related disciplines deal with sustainability issues: A total of 4,742 projects from 134 countries were submitted. About half of them fully met the competition requirements and were then scrutinized in extensive online jury meetings in the five competition regions. The juries spent a total of over 100 hours sifting through and ranking the winners in the Main and Next Generation categories. In this process, they used the five Target Issues for Sustainable Construction with which the Holcim Foundation assesses sustainability. Summarized as Progress, People, Planet, Prosperity, and Place, the Target Issues outline the critical factors of making the environments we build and inhabit truly viable as the building sector moves toward net-zero emissions and circular material flows.
Many high-level Next Generation entries
The Next Generation category seeks visionary concepts and is open to participants up to 30 years of age, whereas the Main category is for projects that are ready for implementation. In the current competition, around half of the entries worldwide were submitted in the Next Generation category. “A very large number of projects were of high quality – selecting the winning projects was a real challenge,” says Loreta Castro Reguera. The Design Director & Founder of Taller Capital and Professor of Architecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico served as head of the jury for Latin America. At her side were Sandra Barclay (Barclay & Crousse Architecture, Peru), Edelio Bermejo (Group Head of Research & Development, Holcim Innovation Center, France), Luis Callejas (Luis Callejas & Charlotte Hansson Landscape & Architecture, Colombia), Fernando Diez (Editorial Director, Summa+ and Professor of Urbanism, Universidad de Palermo, Argentina), Maria Betânia de Oliveira (School of Architecture & Urbanism, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Cecilia Puga (Principal & Founder, Cecilia Puga Architects, Chile). Further jury members from the Holcim Foundation Academic Committee were Marilyne Andersen (Professor of Sustainable Construction Technologies, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland) and Harry Gugger (Professor for Architectural & Urban Design, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland).
The next generation is tackling urgent challenges
The majority of the entries addressed the most pressing challenges of the competition region, the international jury of experts was pleased to note. “We saw projects that had to do with housing, with public space and water management, with urban services and community gardening spaces, and also with botanical and ecological issues,” says Loreta Castro Reguera. The five Target Issues of the Holcim Awards – progress, people, planet, prosperity, and place – were the constant guiding principles in the assessments and discussions. “We were glad to see that there is a good number of young architects working on these issues.” Even if this meant that the selection process was not exactly easy. “The discussion within the jury was pretty intense,” says the architect. The jury ultimately agreed on four winners who stood out among the rest and were awarded USD 25,000, USD 20,000, USD 15,000 and USD 10,000 in prize money respectively.
In addition to the prize money, each winner receives a personalized trophy featuring the Modulor of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The trophy base is made of ECOPact, a low-carbon concrete by Holcim, showcasing materials that enable circular flows and carbon-neutral construction. Holcim is the sponsor of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, which conducts the competition. “With their fresh ideas, the Next Generation Awards prize winners keep us at the forefront of sustainable and innovative building solutions”, says Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim.
1st prize: Sustainable social housing in Brazil
The riverside residents of Manaus live in a flood zone. The project proposes a type of social housing adapted to the local conditions, which is inspired by traditional stilt and floating house typologies. The complex includes a community center for cultural and leisure activities that aims to build social cohesion. It consists of a floating level for fishing and leisure activities, a level for collective commercial and cultural purposes, and a level for apartments. The project relies on locally sourced materials and makes best use of natural resources. Rainwater is harvested and used. Shading and cross-ventilation enhance the indoor climate. “The project incorporates local architecture and design features so that the building is in harmony with the people and the natural landscape,” explains prize winner Danielle Gregorio, student of architecture at the University of São Paolo. This approach is also appreciated by the jury, which praises the project for being responsive to the climate and coherent with Amazonian culture. It shows a deep awareness of how the environmental impact of interventions can be minimized. “This project found the perfect scale of intervention and the ideal mix of social and material priorities, and natural impact,” says Marilyne Andersen: “It’s feasible, respectful, and just right.”
2nd prize: Floodwater utilization in Argentina
Sixty percent of the city of Resistencia suffers flooding within an hour during heavy downpours. The project by Gimena Ponce Abba, María Florencia Ruiz Cabello, and María Rosario Ruiz Cabello, students of architecture at the National University of Córdoba, shows how such flooding can be mitigated. “Our solution includes architecture, engineering, landscape design, urban design, and ecology,” summarizes María Rosario Ruiz Cabello. The project reinterprets the concept and role of water infrastructure in the urban context. A system of catch basins, so-called socio-hydric platforms, is to be installed in large voids within the urban network. There, facilities for social, cultural, sports, and civic activities can be introduced. Depending on the water level, the platforms can also collect, retain, and transport stormwater, employing a natural treatment process. A green belt serves as the interface between the platforms and the surrounding urban districts. “What is very impressive is how generalizable the concept is,” says Marilyne Andersen: “The project does not fight the flooding and try to hold the water back but works with the dynamics of the water and turns it into something positive.” The multidisciplinary approach necessary to achieve this result strongly impressed the jury.
3rd prize: Transformation instead of demolition in Mexico
Plaza Merced 2000 is a landmark building in one of the oldest commercial districts in Mexico City. Only 20 percent of the building remains in use. There are even plans to demolish it. The project by Pablo Goldin Markovich, student of architecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, proposes renovating the building and exploiting its full potential. As part of the transformation, the carbon footprint is to be minimized. To achieve this, the building structure will be maintained and upgraded using recycled materials. Water and energy management will be optimized. A variety of stakeholders will be accommodated in the building in order to initiate circular processes of collaboration based on shared interests. “Urban and social development should be linked together,” insists Pablo Goldin Markovich: “Different actors complement each other to generate value and empower the community.” The building thus acquires a new identity and becomes an open, dynamic facility for commercial, educational, and leisure uses. The mingling of uses is a proactive solution to promote community interaction and social inclusion, agrees the jury. Marilyne Andersen: “In this project we are not only looking at a way to preserve the existing but to add more value on top of it.”
4th prize: Landscape protection in Columbia
Southeastern Bogotá has been the scene of illegal mining for many years. The hills are also home to the Entre Nubes ecological park, a habitat for many endemic animals and plants. The project by Lina Fernanda Valencia Lozano, Juan Camilo Muñoz, and Jhon Janer Salazar Ruiz, students of architecture at the University of Valle in Calí, envisages the construction of a botanical pavilion that traces the natural contour of the hills and is perfectly embedded into the landscape. The lightweight structure uses steel cables anchored to opposing quarry walls. Vertical ties anchored to foundations provide stability to the tensile structure. The building is enveloped with a polymeric skin. The pavilion houses plant species crucial to the Colombian ecosystem, the greenhouse becomes a public educational facility. The determined yet gentle architectural gesture intended to mend a wound in the landscape greatly impressed the jury. “It is both an aesthetic answer and an answer that is particularly well integrated into its natural and landscape context,” explains Marilyne Andersen. Co-author Juan Camilo Muñoz says the prize also opens up an opportunity on a larger scale: “With the Holcim Award we can expose architecture as a method of intervention and response to solve an environmental problem.”
Holcim Awards Next Generation prizes Latin America
Next Generation prizes
Awards Next Generation 1st prize (USD 25,000)
Buoyant Housing in Brazil – Riverside living and community complex
A housing project inspired by indigenous vernacular architecture to empower riverside communities of Manaus.
Winner: Danielle Gregorio, student at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Awards Next Generation 2nd prize (USD 20,000)
Fluid Buffer in Argentina – Urban flood mitigation and recreation infrastructure
Water-management infrastructure in Resistencia transforms floodwater into a resource for the community.
Winners: Gimena Ponce Abba, María Florencia Ruiz Cabello, and María Rosario Ruiz Cabello, students at the National University of Córdoba, Argentina.
Awards Next Generation 3rd prize (USD 15,000)
Improving Market in Mexico – Urban commercial rejuvenation and capacity building
A retrofit intervention for a market offers new environmental, economic, and social growth opportunities in Mexico City.
Winner: Pablo Goldin Marcovich, student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City.
Awards Next Generation 4th prize (USD 10,000)
Protective Canopy in Colombia – Landscape revitalization and botanical pavilion
A botanical pavilion in Bogotá heals landscape from human activities and offers new pedagogical and recreational public space.
Winners: Lina Fernanda Valencia Lozano, Juan Camilo Muñoz, and Jhon Janer Salazar Ruiz, students at the University of Valle, Cali, Colombia
Main category Awards winners to be announced in November
The worldwide total of 21 Next Generation category winners will be presented virtually, whereas the winning projects and authors in the Main category will be honored at a hybrid event at the international Venice Biennale of Architecture in mid-November 2021. At this event, the 33 regional winners will be celebrated and the winners of the global Holcim Awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze 2021 will be announced.
Virtual presentations of the Next Generation winners, including detailed descriptions of the winning projects from each world region, complete jury reports, and numerous photos and videos, are available at www.holcim-foundation.org/awards. The English-French trade journal “L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui” has devoted a special issue to the Next Generation winners of the Holcim Awards.
Striving to make the world greener, smarter, and healthier for all
The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction was created in 2003 by Holcim as an independent legal entity to raise awareness of the important role that architecture, engineering, urban planning, and the building industry have in achieving a more sustainable future. Holcim is the global leader in building solutions across more than 70 markets. The Group is reinventing how the world builds to make it greener, smarter, and healthier for all.