Global cement giant LafargeHolcim on Thursday evening hosted the LafarageHolcim Award in Nairobi at the Kenya National Theatre, a ceremony that celebrated sustainability in the construction industry.
The awards, an initiative of the company’s LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, stand out as the world’s most significant competition in sustainable design and takes place across five geographic regions – each with its own jury of renowned and independent specialists. They include Middle East Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.
The awards revealed that sustainability in building is rapidly gaining significance in the Middle East Africa region – particularly among female professionals and young graduates in architecture and engineering. The majority of the 12 prize-winning projects dealt with education and the contemporary promotion of traditional manual skills.
Prizes are awarded in two categories. The Next Generation category for students and professionals up to 30 years of age has become increasingly popular. The category seeks visionary projects and bold ideas, and gives young professionals public exposure and a platform to achieve recognition. For the first time in the history of the LafargeHolcim Awards, more projects were submitted in the Next Generation category than in the main category – showing just how future-oriented the competition is.
The main Awards category is open for professionals to showcase sustainable responses to technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues affecting contemporary building and construction.
Additionally, the competition acknowledges only projects, not finished work. That’s because the Foundation seeks designs that go beyond current standards and deliver new, surprising, or truly visionary solutions to the way we build.
Thursday’s awards ceremony covered the Middle East and Africa region, awarding Gold, Silver, Bronze as well as Acknowledgement prizes. The Gold was awarded to two female architects Mariya, Kamara and Yasaman Esmaili, who collaborated to design a religious and secular complex in Dandaji, Niger. Their project was a reinterpretation of traditional local construction for a new mosque and community center, creating a space in the village open to all.
The Silver went to Moroccan architect Fatima-azzahra Bendahmane, who designed an elementary school and craft training center in Aït Benhaddou, Morocco. This will be a learning complex that uses architecture, form, and space to claim artisanship and handiwork as living and modern traditions.
From Left: Silver Award Winners Fatima-azzahra Bendahmane,Gold Winners Kamara and Yasaman Esmaili and the team that won bronze
The Bronze was claimed by a design team led by a design team led by Lebanese architect Joana Dabaj and UK based architects Matteo Zerbi and Ricardo Conti. Their award winning project was adaptive re-use for refugee education located in an informal settlement for Syrian refugees in Lebanon that creates a dignified school environment using a repurposed pavilion.
The Gold, Silver and Bronze winners from each region will compete for the Global LafargeHolcim Awards in 2018 for a grand prize of two million US dollars.
The LafargeHolcim Foundation hosted National Construction Authority (NCA) Executive Director Dr. Daniel Manduku during the presentation ceremony the next day, held at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Dr. Manduku, an architect by profession, expressed pride at the showcasing of impressive and ambitious projects, which promoted sustainability. “Sustainability is not just the terminology of the moment, it is the future of construction, as without it we will create an environment completely hostile to human habitation.” Dr. Manduku also acknowledged how well female architects were doing on a global scale; the top three awards were either all women or had a woman as part of the team.
There were 22 submissions from Kenya in this year’s competition. Commenting on Kenya’s performance, Prof. Dr. Marc Angelil, Head of the Academic Committee of the LafargeHolcim Foundation and member of the awards jury for Middle East Africa, said: ‘I was delighted to see Kenya’s participation in the LafargeHolcium Awards tripled in comparison with the previous cycle of the competition. For the first time in the history of Lafarge awards, more projects were submitted in the next Generation category than the main category – showing just how future oriented the competition is. And Kenya outperformed this trend. Although there are no prize winners from Kenya this time, I remain confident this will change soon, as the quality of submissions from Kenya was impressive and the projects inspiring.’
LafargeHolcim is a major shareholder in Bamburi Cement, with whom NCA has a long standing partnership in several initiatives, including the training of construction workers.