This year’s biennial AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award has received a record number of entries despite challenges relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, which compelled organisers to extend the submission deadline by 3 months.
AfriSam Sales and Marketing Executive, Richard Tomes, says the significant number of entries bears testimony to the industry’s commitment to finding solutions aimed at addressing local and global sustainability challenges, even in the face of a global pandemic and national lockdown that altered the fabric of everyday lives.
“As the sponsor of the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award programme, we believe that to achieve sustainable goals across the African continent, transformation needs to be focused on Integrated design approaches teaching, thinking and practice. “The lockdown shone an even greater spotlight on the need for sustainable practices, with several entries showcasing the industry’s drive to ensure sustainable practices are implemented in all construction activities with a view of ensuring a better future for the people of the country.”
Dr. Luyanda Mpahlwa, past President of South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and adjudicator of the award programme says buildings and construction are significant contributors to carbon emissions and the industry has a responsibility to reduce these by using innovative methods.
“Buildings are made to serve people, and as an industry, we must place their needs at the centre of all that we do. Most importantly, we should not forget about the most basic design principles in achieving sustainability,” he says.
Celebrating a decade of honoring sustainability excellence, the award programme recognizes the contributions that bring sustainable innovation to both urban and rural living environments through an integrated approach to communities, planning, research, architecture, building practice, natural systems and technology.
“The award programme places increased emphasis on design projects that are responsive to the social complexities, growth requirements and needs of marginalised communities in South Africa and throughout the African diaspora,” explains Mpahlwa. “The criteria for entry must embody what the award programme is all about, including a strong focus on harmonisation, people upliftment, new ways of thinking, placemaking performance and leadership.”
While an unprecedented number of entries have been allocated to the final round of judging across each category, there is compelling evidence that sustainability is no longer just a niche pursuit for the few, but is at the forefront of a number of projects today. Notably, the categories that received the highest number of submissions were Category A: Sustainable Architecture; and Category D: Sustainable Social Programmes.
Mpahlwa says the adjudicators are most encouraged by the number of entries received in Category D, which focuses on projects of social impact in the field of sustainability and the living environment.
“This shows a growing understanding that the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award is not only about recognising sustainable architectural feats or sustainable practices relating to a single solution, but also those aimed at addressing several urgent societal issues relating to economic, environmental and social impact.
“This year’s entries, and the thought and understanding that went into them, are evidence of the commitment by the industry to tackle our challenges head-on and I am excited to share them in the coming weeks,” he concludes.