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3 sustainable projects take top prize in 2015 Global Holcim Awards

Projects from Colombia, Sri Lanka, and the U.S. were chosen by the Holcim Foundation for the impact the projects have on their local communities.

April 23, 2015 |
3 winners take top prizes in 2015 Global Holcim Awards

Three projects from around the world were selected as winners of the 2015 Holcim Awards. All renderings courtesy: Holcim Foundation

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 U.S.

All three prizes recognize architectural interventions that deliver tangible benefits to local communities: Turning a decommissioned water reservoir into a park in Medellín, rebuilding social fabric through a community library in Ambepussa following Sri Lanka’s civil war, and creating public zones and flood-protection for the island of Manhattan.


Gold Award
Articulated Site: Water reservoir as a public park
Medellín, Colombia

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. The design by Mario Camargo and Luis Tombé of Colectivo720 in Cali, together with Juan Calle and Horacio Valenciaof 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 Award
Post-War Collective: Community library and social recuperation
Colombo, Sri Lanka

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. The community library by Milinda Pathiraja and Ganga Ratnayake of Robust Architecture Workshop in Colombo is made of rammed-earth walls and recycled materials. With the support of the army, young men were coached in building techniques through the construction process.
The project offers proof that the vision can indeed be translated into reality. Rather than remaining in the realm of the abstract, the submitted entry outlines a set of concrete measures, ranging from the introduction of an educational program to the deployment of particular construction techniques – all beautifully and clearly outlined. The authors recognize the potential of using an army’s knowhow in logistics for peaceful purposes, while strengthening social bonds. The jury sees significant value in the basic message of the scheme and greatly appreciates its translation into a tangible physical structure – the construction of a library and public facility for building the physical and social fabric of a community.


Bronze Award
The Dryline: Urban flood protection infrastructure
New York City, USA

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, proposes 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.
The master plan uses a raised berm to create a sequence of public spaces along the raised bank at the water’s edge. The infrastructural barrier incorporates a range of neighborhood functions and as a result offers multiple design opportunities, fostering local commercial, recreational, and cultural activities.
Mohsen 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.
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