No longer just a dream
In North America, architects, engineers, urban planners, and developers began to experiment with sustainable technologies and concepts very early on. "Around ten years ago, sustainable construction was commonly seen as adding solar panels to a building,” Engineer Dominique Corvez, member of the Awards jury, confirms. “Now I can see sustainability really is a core principle of architecture.” Corvez also noted certain predominant topics among the prize winning projects in North America: they often aimed to sustainably improve the quality of life of less affluent people, or to improve the connection between natural and built environments.
From project to reality: Low-cost yet better schools in California
More than 200 projects have been awarded so far worldwide as we reach the fifth cycle of the LafargeHolcim Awards. The inaugural LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition for North America was presented by Pascal Casanova, Member of the Executive Committee of LafargeHolcim and responsible for North America and Mexico, to Gloria Lee and Nathan Swift of SwiftLeeOffice in Pasadena, CA, USA. The architects designed a new school building prototype for the Los Angeles Unified School District to replace several inadequate temporary structures, winning the LafargeHolcim Awards Silver North America in 2011. Boasting excellent energy efficiency, the design has so far been implemented in three locations with great success.
Gold: Comprehensive neighborhood planning in Detroit, USA
With its large team, studio[Ci] in Detroit is tackling one of the city’s greatest challenges: creating a community based on collective empowerment that functions as sustainably as possible in a disadvantaged district of the city. The community-run infrastructure will include local energy and food production, water and waste management, while also empowering the residents. The jury praised the project for, “Taking the pocket vacancies normally characterized as the biggest problem in Detroit, the design turns them into an opportunity to create a compelling sustainable neighborhood.”