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Holcim Foundation global award winners named


Concrete Construction Infrastructure LEED

Colombian, Sri Lankan, American projects win

The winners of the 4th Global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction have been decided – the trophies and $350,000 prize money go to projects in Colombia, Sri Lanka and the USA. All three prizes recognize architectural interventions that deliver tangible benefits to local communities.

A project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia that creates urban spaces around a series of water tanks to form a “socio-technical” landscape of magnificent beauty won the gold prize and $200,000.

This project for a public park centers on creating spaces around and above a series of water reservoirs. Architectural form takes inspiration from the site’s history, surrounding topography, and structure of the existing tanks and pools, resulting in an intervention with minimal environmental impact. Special attention is given to water management, using recycling technologies involving rainwater and grey water harvesting through simple systems for irrigation of the park. 

The design by Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé of Colectivo720 in Cali, together with Juan Calle and Horacio Valencia of EPM Group (Empresas Públicas de Medellín), all Colombia opens up hidden infrastructure within the city to create a civic space at the intersection of architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and urban design. The public space and pre-existing elements are transformed to create an outdoor auditorium and venues for a range of community activities that highlight the value of water as an important resource of urban life.


Head of the Global Holcim Awards jury 2015, Mohsen Mostafavi, commended the project for its focus on improving the quality of life in the city. “The jury applauds the careful integration of the ensemble into the physical and social fabric of Medellín – in a scheme that is a model for best practice that could be emulated by other cities in Latin America and around the globe,” he said.

Silver was awarded to a project in the rural town of Ambepussa near Colombo, Sri Lanka that aims to reintegrate soldiers into post-war Sri Lankan society. Young men from underprivileged backgrounds are trained in building techniques through their involvement in the construction of public buildings. The slender building sits lightly in the landscape and wraps around an inner courtyard, taking full advantage of cross ventilation and daylighting. Rammed-earth walls and recycled materials reduce the building’s ecological footprint.

The community library by Milinda Pathiraja and Ganga Ratnayake of Robust Architecture Workshop in Colombo is made of rammed-earth walls and recycled materials.

Mostafavi explained that the value of the project centers on transforming a discharged army without mission into a motivated workforce at the service of society using a set of concrete measures including the introduction of an educational program and the deployment of particular construction techniques.

“There is significant value in the basic message of the scheme – and the construction of a library that builds both the physical and social fabric of a community”, he said. The prize included $100,000.

The ‘Dryline’ project, A large-scale integrated flood protection system to address the vulnerability of New York City to coastal flooding, won the Global Holcim Awards Bronze.

The “Dryline” project by a consortium headed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Copenhagen/New York), and One Architecture (Amsterdam) in collaboration with the City of New York, propose a protective ribbon in Southern Manhattan using a series of raised berms and other measures to create public spaces along the water’s edge. The infrastructural barrier incorporates a range of neighborhood functions that foster local commercial, recreational, and cultural activities.

Mostafavi praised the project for turning a problem into an opportunity. “The project makes a political statement by means of an architectural and urban proposition – where tangible solutions to the effects of climate change can be created, where New York City is a prototype from which similar strategies in susceptible regions around the globe could be pursued,” he said. A cash award of $50,000 went with the honour.

Every three years, the awards competition seeks architectural design interventions that address sustainable building and construction issues worldwide. Over 6,000 projects in 152 countries were submitted for the 4th cycle of the USD 2 million awards program. For more information on the Holcim Awards and to see which projects won the regional competitions, CLICK HERE


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