“Bridging ethnic diversities in favor of a respectful coexistence”

Regional Jury Report – Europe

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    View of the entrance hall, walking into the reception space with framed view of the landscape behind.

Last updated: November 13, 2021 Eclepens, Switzerland

Project description by jury

The project originates from a collaboration between the architects and the “Most Mira” (Bridge of Peace) charity, that has operated in Bosnia & Herzegovina for more than a decade to help divided communities reconnect while respecting cultural differences. The site of the intervention lies between two divided villages: Petrov Gaj (Bosnian Serbs) and Kevljani (Bosniaks) near the former Omarska concentration camp that operated in 1992. The proposal’s objective is to give Most Mira a permanent physical location by salvaging and transforming a war-ruined house into a vibrant public facility for cultural and reconciliation activities.

The building consists of an art studio, a versatile theatre, and a craft workshop on the ground floor; as well as housing for up to 14 people on the first floor. The building is principally made of rammed earth, a material linked to local construction traditions. The rammed earth mixture uses recycled waste material, including material derived from demolition of the ruins, as well as loam and clay from local quarries and an iron ore mine nearby. Rammed earth holds a very low embodied energy, provides good thermal performance, and is a low-carbon and low-cost material. The environmental design strategies also include rainwater collection and reuse.

Jury appraisal

The Holcim Awards jury Europe highly commended the ethical premises at the core of the proposal which is the result of a remarkable participatory design process conducted over many years with the local communities. The ambition of the project to bridge ethnic diversities in favor of a respectful coexistence has a high social value. On the one hand, the building provides new stimulating cultural spaces to support the young generations living in the region, on the other hand its construction becomes a learning and educational experience for the locals to whom new social and working skills are transferred. All in all, the project represents a remarkable example of sustainable social, environmental and economic practices.