AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award announces 13 awarded projects

Awarded and commended projects of the sixth AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award were announced at a virtual awards ceremony, which recognised some of Africa’s leading lights in the sustainable African architectural and design innovation space.

Philippa Tumubweinee

Notably, the award advocates for design projects that are responsive to the social complexities, growth requirements and the needs of marginalised communities in South Africa and throughout the Africa diaspora.

Entries for the 2019/2020 award were submitted in four categories, namely Category A: Sustainable New Building or the Conservation and Restoration of an Existing One; Category B: Practice-based Action and Research Work in the Field of Sustainability and the Built Environment; Category C: Sustainable Product or Technology; and Category D: Sustainable Social Programmes.

Each category was judged according to five criteria, namely harmonisation, people upliftment, new ways of thinking, placemaking performance and leadership.

While 13 projects were awarded, nine others were commended by the judges. Amongst these were three off-the-grid accommodation projects, seven education facilities, seven social impact projects, five inventive technologies and techniques, two healthcare facilities, three new inventions and innovations, two community housing projects, two research centres, one heritage home and one research paper.

Category A garnered the highest number of accolades, with eight awards and three commendations, while one project received an award in Category B. In Category C, two projects received awards and two were commended, with Category D enjoying the same result: two awards and two commendations.

Luyanda Mpahlwa

Speaking at the event, Director DesignSpaceAfrica and Immediate Past President of SAIA, Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa, says the adjudicators viewed some exceptional projects of various scale and complexity. “It was evident that architecture of a high standard is being produced in the country, architecture that is commendable and internationally competitive – noting that sustainability is being given increasingly more attention by architects and their clients.

“I look forward to a future when African architecture and design is defined by a sustainable innovation, local relevance and using methods of building that are both economically and environmentally conscious and which respond to the needs of our world.”

Eben Keun, General Manager for AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award since inception in 2009, says the growth of the award over the years bears testimony to the positive impact sustainable design can have on the planet and its most in-need communities. “The projects that were recognised this year are an exciting indication of what can be achieved when sustainability considerations are front and centre.”

Richard Tomes, AfriSam Sales and Marketing Executive, says AfriSam congratulates every project that received an award or commendation. “Today we celebrate the expression of our collective values, particularly in our belief in designing buildings and implementing social projects that will ensure the sustainability of our planet for future generations.”

The adjudicator panel for the 2019/2020 award:

● Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa, Immediate Past President SAIA, professional architect, and adjudication panel convener

● Somers Govender, practising professional architect

● Dr Gillian Adendorff, practising senior professional architect

● Nkosinathi Manzana, past Non-Executive Director Green Building Council South Africa and Executive Head of Group Real Estate Services: Commercial Buildings for the Standard Bank Group

● Dr Philippa Tumubweinee, practising professional architect, academic and expert in sustainable architecture

● Sphephelo Mhlongo, a previous winner and professional architect currently working for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works

Awarded and commended projects in the 2019/2020 AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Award:

Category A: Sustainable New Building or the Conservation and Restoration of an Existing One

Awarded projects

● Additions to the Vredenburg Provincial Hospital (Wolff Architects)

● Botha’s Halte Primary School (Meyer and Associates Architect, Urban Designers)

● Arklow Villa III (Douglas & Company Architects)

● Future Africa Campus (Earthworld Architects)

● House of the Big Arch (Frankie Pappas International)

● Thanda Early Childhood Development Centre (AOJ (Architects Of Justice))

● Witklipfontein Eco Lodge (Grosskopff Lombart Huyberechts and Associates Architects)

● Hillside Clinic, Beaufort West (Gabriel Fagan Architects)

Commended projects

● Bridges for Music Academy (Tsai Design Studio)

● Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative (Nicholas Whitcutt Architects, Kevin Mitchell Architects)

● New Thanda School Facilities (Earth:Switch Architects)

Category B: Practice-based Action and Research Work in the Field of Sustainability and the Built Environment

Awarded project

● Towards applying a green infrastructure approach in the Gauteng City-Region (Gauteng City-Region Observatory)

Category C: Sustainable Product or Technology

Awarded projects

● PVT 1680 (Modular Heat Sink for Solar Panel) (Energy Shift)

● BOXA Possibilities (BOXA Possibilities)

Commended projects

● The Mama Jersey (The Seen Collective)

● Nchenje Homestead (Simply Sustainable Consulting)

Category D: Sustainable Social Programmes

Awarded projects

● Access to affordable housing (Hustlenomics (Pty) Ltd)

● Gahinga Batwa Village, Uganda (Localworks)

Commended projects

● Bio-efficient Cookstove (Richard Dobson Architects)

● Pop-up Micro Childcare Facility (Richard Dobson Architects)

● The Retrade Project: Live Responsibly, while helping those in need (The Retrade Project)

● Women in STEM: A science and leadership initiative of the Nsasani Trust (Nsasani Trust)

For more information on all successful submissions, visit

The full video of the ceremony, as well as a series of short films celebrating the awarded projects, will be released on The AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award’s Facebook and YouTube channels over the next two weeks. Visit or

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