From the bustling streets of Madrid to heritage conservation efforts in China, the winning projects – awarded prize money totaling USD 1 million – exemplify the growing global effort to provide holistic design and construction responses that advance multiple aspects of sustainable development.
The competition had 2,380 registrations of interest from 114 countries and 500 submissions that met the entry criteria. Out of these, five projects were awarded a Holcim Awards Gold prize for their outstanding contribution to local sustainable development within their region. These projects, hailing from Canada, China, Ghana, Mexico, and Spain, are beacons of contextually-relevant design which thoughtfully balance the need for inclusive, human-centric spaces and environmental stewardship. The winning projects champion advances in approaches ranging from adaptive reuse and material circularity to participatory design and cooperative business models. They also address critical challenges including energy management, community empowerment and issues of land use and restoration.
Laura Viscovich, Executive Director of the Holcim Foundation, highlighted the common ambition of all the winning projects to enhance community health, wellbeing, and prosperity. She praised the winners for designs which embody the Foundation’s goals for sustainable construction, stating, “In a world where sustainability has multiple interpretations, the Holcim Foundation is proud to shine a light on projects that demonstrate best-in-class solutions for creating uplifting places that meet human development goals while restoring and regenerating natural systems. We encourage all our Holcim Awards winners to use this global recognition as a platform to help speed up the realization of sustainable construction in their regions.”
The Holcim Awards 2023 Gold winners, applauded for their innovative and impactful sustainable design and construction methods, are:
Holcim Awards 2023 Gold
(USD 100,000 each)
- ASIA PACIFIC: Fujian Tulou, Zhangzhou, Fujian, China by DnA_Design and Architecture. The project defines a conservation approach through adaptive reuse and proposes a prototypical framework for giving new value to traditional tulou structures.
- EUROPE: El 17. Composition of Knowledge House, Madrid, Spain by Husos, Elii, and Ultrazul. A rehabilitation of an industrial building into a vibrant community hub using a comprehensive 360° co-design process that emphasizes material circularity and increases urban biodiversity.
- LATIN AMERICA: Utopía Estrella Iztapalapa, Mexico City, Mexico by CANO | VERA Arquitectura. An urban remediation project that aims to transform a site including a former landfill to create facilities for sport, culture, social engagement, and ecological education for the 230,000 inhabitants of Iztapalapa.
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Surf Ghana Collective, Busua, Ghana by Juergen Strohmayer and Glenn DeRoché. A responsible tourism co-operative that repurposes an existing building to create a dynamic community space which enhances economic opportunities and empowers youth in Busua.
- NORTH AMERICA: 1925 Victoria Park Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada by Well Grounded Real Estate, Partisans – Serotiny Group and CREE Buildings. A high-tech and low-cost modular housing solution that re-imagines sustainable apartment living through the design of the first 12-floor near-zero, mixed use rental development in Ontario.
The Holcim Awards Juries recognized fifteen further projects for their contribution to advancing sustainable construction:
Holcim Awards Silver
(USD 60,000 each)
- ASIA PACIFIC: Ger Plug-In 3.0, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia by District Development Unit, Energy Efficient Design Build, and Ger Hub. A housing prototype upgrades Ger (traditional felt tent) dwellings to provide affordable and energy efficient housing with integrated infrastructure that improves air quality, health, and wellbeing.
- EUROPE: Urban Nature Project, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom by Feilden Fowles, J&L Gibbons and the Natural History Museum. The landscape program transforms the two-hectare Gardens of London to increase biodiversity, accessibility, scientific research, and best practice outdoor nature-learning while responding to the urgent need to re-engage people with the natural world and urban wildlife.
- LATIN AMERICA: San José De Nueva Venecia School, Sitio Nuevo, Colombia by FP Arquitectura. A refurbishment project that expands and renovates a village school for flexible community use, and provides innovative biological waste-water treatment for enhanced ecosystem health.
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Stream Co-Habitat, Tuzla, Turkey by Openact Architecture. An ecosystem regeneration and urban re-engagement program that aims to develop a design scheme based on the waterlines shaping Tuzla’s natural landscape and lifestyle while reconnecting it to its historical and cultural roots.
- NORTH AMERICA: Maritime Innovation Center, Seattle, WA, USA by The Miller Hull Partnership. A deep energy retrofit for a “blue tech” economy hub that reuses much of the century-old heavy timber structure and delivers 105% of the building’s annual energy needs by ground source heat exchange.
Holcim Awards Bronze
(USD 30,000 each)
- ASIA PACIFIC: NUS Yusof Ishak House, Singapore by the National University of Singapore (NUS). Adaptive reuse and retrofit of a 1970s university administration building that aims to be the first of its kind on campus to achieve the target of net-zero energy in its operational phase.
- EUROPE: Haus 2+, Berlin, Germany by Office ParkScheerbarth. A mixed-used building extension for a cooperatively organized cultural complex that expands the architectural language of prefabricated timber structures beyond their typical angularity while maximizing energy efficiency.
- LATIN AMERICA: Saving Portete – Sustainable Island, Esmeraldas, Ecuador by Rama Estudio. A resilience project for a coastal community following an earthquake in 2016 that creates a sustainable island with affordable and decent housing as well as community infrastructure that responds to local needs.
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Kfar Houneh Ecolodge, Kfar Houneh, Lebanon by Akl Architects. An environmental remediation project located on the outskirts of Kfar Houneh village that promotes responsible tourism and historic preservation and incorporates an ecolodge built with eco-friendly materials and techniques, utilizing locally sourced natural materials.
- NORTH AMERICA: Kaiser Borsari Hall, Bellingham, WA, USA by Perkins and Will. A university building with on-site energy generation and storage that achieves a 63% reduction in embodied carbon and a 100% reduction in operational carbon, designed according to International Living Future Institute “smart building” standards.
Holcim Awards Acknowledgement
(USD 10,000 each)
- ASIA PACIFIC: Post-Covid Factory, Đồng Nai, Vietnam by Le Quang-Architect(s). An industrial refurbishment project that delivers a better indoor and outdoor work environment through a more dense yet permeable massing that features breathable surfaces, integrated natural landscape, efficient energy use of equipment and ventilation systems.
- EUROPE: High-Rise H1 Zwhatt Site, Regensdorf, Switzerland by Boltshauser Architekten. A tower of flexible modular apartments for 2,000 residents that concentrates density to reserve land for well-structured outdoor space, and generates around half of the electrical energy required for the apartments via integrated and rooftop photovoltaics.
- LATIN AMERICA: Memories of Water, Rio Negro, Colombia by TAP Arquitectura, Rojas Arquitectos, Geográfica Sur, Cosme Landscape Architecture, and EMS Arquitectos. An amphibious park system located on a floodplain that seeks to reinvigorate its territory with habitat revitalization strategies that reconcile and strengthen the living dynamic of the natural and urban landscape.
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Ezbet Eshaq’s Eco Classroom, Ezbet Eshaq, Egypt by BENAA Foundation for Sustainable Development. A learning space constructed with the help of the local community in the agricultural village of Ezbet Eshaq that uses recycled materials including 9,000 reused plastic bottles filled with sand, locally sourced compressed earth blocks, bamboo, and natural clay.
- NORTH AMERICA: Muscowpetung Powwow Arbour, Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation, SK, Canada by Oxbow Architecture and Richard Kroeker. A traditionally constructed cultural space for an indigenous community that supports economic objectives by engaging local sources of labor in the building process using construction approaches that are strategically aligned with local resources and skills.
The Holcim Awards, with its mission of recognizing and promoting projects from around the world that are accelerating sustainable construction, has a rigorous selection process driven by independent regional juries. The juries assess each submission using a holistic approach to sustainability which focuses on environmental, social, and economic impacts, contextual relevance, and transferability potential.
About the Holcim Awards Juries
The Holcim Awards juries were led by:
- ASIA PACIFIC: Manit Rastogi, Founding Partner of Morphogenesis, New Delhi, India.
- EUROPE: Belinda Tato, Founder of ecosistema urbano, Madrid, Spain, and Associate Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, USA.
- LATIN AMERICA: Tatiana Bilbao, Founder and Principal of Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Mexico City, Mexico.
- MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA: Lesley Lokko OBE, Founder & Director of African Futures Institute, Accra, Ghana; Curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.
- NORTH AMERICA: Craig Dykers, Founding Partner of Snøhetta, New York, USA.
Meet all Jury Members at www.holcimfoundation.org/awards-2023-juries.