Holcim awards the best in international sustainable construction

by Jennifer Wilson | July 3, 2015 9:34 am

all 3[1]
The winning projects from Colombia, Sri Lanka, and the United States each utilize sustainable construction to benefit their communities. The winning projects were a Colombian park, a Sri Lankan library, and a U.S. flood barrier. All images courtesy Holcim Foundation

by Jennifer Wilson
The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction, a design competition spanning the last three years, has announced its global winners. The competition, an initiative of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, is open to all countries and focuses on pioneering novel and future-oriented, building projects. The 15 winners from the previous five regional Holcim Awards competitions (Europe, Latin America, North America[2], Africa Middle East, Asia Pacific) were selected to compete in the international competition. The three respective winners from the global pool were projects from Colombia, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Public space in Medellín
The gold prize of $200,000 was awarded to the Colombian team of Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé of Colectivo720, and Juan Calle and Horacio Valencia of EPM Group. This project is destined for the Colombian city of Medellín and focuses on creating a cohesive public space from an existing water reservoir. Architecture, modern design, landscape, infrastructure, and public space intertwine to form a public park that spotlights the importance of water to sustain an urban community.

One of the main goals for the project was to make it as sustainable and environmentally responsible as possible. The site will accomplish this by using local materials and vegetation in the construction of the park. This use of available regional materials—including tires, reclaimed plastic, and recycled concrete—allows for current local knowledge and easy worker-training programs to employ low-risk construction for community members—ensuring everyone can get involved in the construction process. The local vegetation will not only help support native wildlife by creating nature trails (and encourage birdwatching), but it will also bolster the environmental quality of the space.

The Colombian public park maximizes natural topography and existing vegetation in its design.

The featured design includes an outdoor auditorium constructed from one of the existing water tanks, walking paths, a water courtyard, and indoor and outdoor resting areas. Typography, the site’s history, and the existing structures were all part of the team’s inspiration for restoring the space as a noninvasive ecological public park.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of the project is the inclusion of water management techniques, like rain and greywater collection to reuse in the park’s sprinkler and watering system. The group has also taken lighting, temperature, and humidity into account with its design, as the park includes plenty of shade from the harsh Colombian rays, natural lighting through the use of skylights and reflective surfaces, adequate air ventilation through permeable walls in the building’s exterior, and bioclimatic designs that will keep areas at optimal temperatures.

The harnessing of natural air currents will reportedly help save the park money by decreasing energy costs. The park also has plans to employ the use of solar cells to help make up what energy they do need. This massive project comprises a network of 14 parks, 10 of which should be completed by the end of 2015.

Sri Lankan community library
The second prize of $100,000 was awarded to the Sri Lankan duo of Milinda Pathiraja and Ganga Ratnayake of Robust Architecture Workshop. After the 25-year Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009, thousands of soldiers were left discharged with no future objective. Designers Pathiraja and Ratnayake saw an opportunity to create a motivated workforce for these soldiers by offering educational training programs on building techniques through the construction of a community library. The library is stationed outside the city of Colombo in the rural town of Ambepussa, and it creates an environment for those who were previously unable to study—mainly women and children—to have a safe place to learn.

The Sri Lankan library was constructed out of sustainable materials, reducing the overall cost.

The building is composed of environmentally conscious materials like packed earth, bamboo, repurposed steel from factories, and recycled wooden railway ties. The packed earth for the wall construction is even sourced from another site currently under excavation for a playground. Given that the design contains so many reused materials, it reduces the overall cost of construction. Designers are also saving money by harvesting natural light, through the use of skylights, a multitude of windows, and a series of reading platforms that allow a generous amount of light into the building. The designers have included wind scoops on the roof to help facilitate stacked ventilation, in addition to the overall design utilizing cross-ventilation techniques. The building itself is situated around existing trees, so the environmental landscape is kept intact.

This project is as much focused on the people it serves as the environment it is built upon. It is the hope the soldiers will become educated and adopt construction as a profession to assist with their re-assimilation into society.

Flood protection for Manhattan
The third prize, and winner of $50,000, was the United States Dryline project spearheaded by BIG— Bjarke Ingels Group and One Architecture in conjunction with the city of New York. After the devastating 2012 Hurricane Sandy, part of New York was left in shambles. The city was arguably unprepared for a storm of that size and suffered massive flooding and destruction. Now they have developed a plan to better prepare the city, should another storm of Sandy’s magnitude strike the island of Manhattan again.

The Dryline project will encompass 21 km (13 mi) of the lower Manhattan shoreline.

Dryline is not only a restorative project, but also a future flood-preventative infastructure. It proposes a protective ribbon to span 16 km (10 mi) of the southern Manhattan shoreline with raised berms, batteries, and benches to act as flood control. The area that currently sits on the coastline of lower Manhattan consists of derelict bridges, parking lots, and roadways. The Dryline plans to convert these spaces into community amenities, such as pools, markets, parks, and other urban community areas. The planning process of the project was intensive, involving more than 25 disaster preparedness groups, residents, and community teams. Residents were even permitted to design their own waterfronts using drawings and interactive models.

This massive preventative project has already gained approval from the city and with $335 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in June 2014.

Submissions for the next Holcim Awards[6] competition will open mid 2016 for its next three year cycle.

  1. [Image]: http://www.constructionspecifier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/all-3.jpg
  2. North America: http://www.constructionspecifier.com/holcim-names-its-global-finalists-and-jury/
  3. [Image]: http://www.constructionspecifier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/park.jpg
  4. [Image]: http://www.constructionspecifier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/library.jpg
  5. [Image]: http://www.constructionspecifier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/dryline.jpg
  6. Holcim Awards: http://www.holcimfoundation.org/Awards

Source URL: https://www.constructionspecifier.com/holcim-awards-for-sustainable-construction/