2011/2012 Afrisam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture qualifying entries announced after vigorous adjudication phase

Following a vigorous adjudication phase aimed at identifying outstanding South African architectural projects that reflect sustainable outcomes, 12 qualifying entries for the 2011/2012 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture have been announced.


The entries will be exhibited at the SAIA Architecture ZA 2012 Biennale, hosted by the Cape Institute for Architecture in September, in the run-up to the announcement of the awarded projects in October.


Entries for the 2011/2012 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture were submitted under two categories — one for built work that has been beneficially (for the purpose it was constructed) occupied from 15 March 2011 and the other for works of social importance, including research.


Three of the built work nominations are for cutting-edge sustainable commercial buildings — The Energy Works in Parktown North, Johannesburg; Pick ‘n Pay on Nicol in Sandton and the Nedbank Ridgeside Building in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal.


Designed by DHK Architects, Ridgeside was awarded a 4-Star rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa, while The Energy Works, designed by Daffonchio & Associate Architects, has met the client’s requirement for a building that is independent of electrical and water utilities, through utilisation of on-site production, harvesting and efficiencies.  Pick ‘n Pay on Nicol, designed by Bentel Associates, uses daylight harvesting to make use of natural light with green building design and technologies such as building orientation, fenestration and louvres. Other eco-friendly features include water-wise planting, rainwater harvesting and grey water use.


Residential properties among the entries include a house in Lynnwood, Pretoria, by Arca Architects & Designers that anticipates change and future expansion through flexibility; a Lanseria property by Claude Bailey Architects & Designers featuring a backbone comprising a 50m long rammed earth wall; and a Melville house designed by Kate Otten Architects that wraps around a Dombeya tree.


Other entries are Lebone II College (Activate Architects, Afritects) in Phokeng, North West for 800 student that effectively “deinstitutionalises” learning through a transparent structure; Vele Secondary School (East Coast Architects) in Limpopo that features solar design and rainwater harvesting strategies; Elkanah House high school campus (Nic Border Architects) in Cape Town, that responds to the unique characteristics of the West Coast; and Safmarine Sports Centre (Tsai Design Studio) in Piketberg in the Western Cape, constructed from used transportation containers.


In the “works of social importance” category, Richard Dobson Architects focus on enhancing the livelihoods in cardboard recycling and eThekwini City Architects study housing typologies.


Commenting on the nominees, AfriSam’s CEO Stephan Olivier says: “This year’s entries have set a new benchmark for South African architecture, truly embodying the prevailing global trend towards sustainable architecture in a diversity of innovative ways.”


SAIA’s Fanuel Motsepe adds: “South African architects can hold their own in the international arena of sustainable construction. The entries received for the 2012 awards are not only exciting because of the innovation they reflect, but because they prove that local architecture has kept pace with developments in the international scene. In some cases I believe global trends have been set in motion.”


The prestigious AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture was first introduced in 2009 to recognise and promote projects in the South African architectural arena that have effectively shifted paradigms with place making buildings that are ecologically sustainable and which also uplift the community. The awards reflect SAIA and AfriSam’s commitment to promoting architecture that meets the social, cultural, economic and environmental needs of the people it serves.


The adjudication panel is chaired by SAIA’s President, Fanuel Motsepe, and comprises academic Daniel Irurah; architects Rodney Choromanski and Eric Noir; businesswoman and National President of South African Women in Construction (SAWIC) Dr Thandi Ndlovu and AfriSam’s Mike McDonald.



AfriSam is a leading producer of building materials in southern Africa. The company has committed itself to protecting the environment through conscientious and responsible manufacturing processes and a responsible attitude towards the impact of its business operations on the community and the environment. As the sponsor of this award, AfriSam is proud to be associated with the South African Institute of Architects in recognising outstanding achievement in sustainable architecture.



The South African Institute of Architects is a voluntary association of affiliated and regional institutes established in 1996 and incorporates the previous national and regional institutes. SAIA is a member of the Africa Union of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the International Union of Architects, the International Commission on Monuments and Sites, and the International Committee Documentation and Conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the modern movement. Membership of the Institute is open to all architects through the relevant regional institutes, the only prerequisite being a recognised academic qualification, a minimum of 24 months practical experience and an examination in professional practice. The South African Institute of Architects and the Regional Institutes are committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and competence.





Elkanah House high school campus, Cape by Nic Border Architects

The site of the new Elkanah House campus forms an integral part of the new suburb, Sunningdale, being developed by Garden Cities. Situated in the harsh, windswept, sand dune environment of Cape Town’s West Coast, the buildings had to satisfy the ethos of Elkanah by providing a warm, welcoming, creative, nurturing environment, while responding to the unique characteristics of the West Coast in terms of climate, aesthetics and social conditions. The facility had to enhance and conform to existing site conditions with a West Coast vernacular and had to be adaptable, economical, innovative and environmentally responsible. The facility’s aim was to revitalise the school pupils and greater community with new recreational, wellness, youth, art, IT, theatre and sporting facilities. Primarily a school building, the facility had to play a part role of town hall, community centre, theatre, youth centre and place of worship so buildings are multi-functional. The theatre becomes town hall, lecture facility, community centre, youth centre and place of worship.


Kavuma House (Residential property in Lanseria) by Claude Bailey Architects & Designers

This private home is located on Monaghan Farm, a low-density environmentally and socially conscious development near Lanseria Airport. The client’s brief called for a low maintenance, simple, warm and welcoming home. The most important element of the house is the rammed earth wall 50 m long by 5 m high using 18% AfriSam eco-cement as a stabiliser, which forms the backbone of the entire house. Fittings make use of recycled timber, sustainable bamboo and alien eradication poplar. The house’s hot water needs are provided by two heat exchange hot water pumps installed in the courtyard, while a highly efficient, low consumption Morso wood stove was placed in the living room. Its exposed flue increases the supreme performance of the cast iron stove. Natural, non-toxic paint has been used both for interior and exterior surfaces. Other features include passive solar, indigenous landscaping and water storage.


Lebone II College in Phokeng, North West by Activate Architects, Afritects

In Phokeng, North West, Activate Architects and Afritects won a competition hosted by Kgosi Lebone II of the Royal Bafokeng Nation to create a college for 800 students that would serve as a new education model with accommodation, farming and alternative teaching methods. The transparent structure aimed to “de-institutionalise” learning to form a set of “village clusters” with central outdoor courtyards and light filtered as if through trees. The college was built in a disused sand quarry and rehabilitated a watercourse to create wetlands hosting indigenous vegetation. Local artists were trained to create detailed mosaic art on the site that portrays the relationship between the Bafokeng and the land. Solar geysers, storm water harvesting, a black water treatment plant, waste recycling and a feeding scheme from vegetable gardens are all part of the project.


Lulu Kati Kati (Residential property in Melville) by Kate Otten Architects

Lulu Kati Kati, Swahili for “pearl in the middle”, was built on an impossibly tight, leftover strip of land. The design and construction processes were driven by a desire to articulate an approach to urban interstitial spaces that explored their value and made a case for the creative re-use of brownfield sites. It was important that the building was one with the landscape. The qualities of the materials, light, views and sounds of wildlife give it poetic quality. Each level of the building has a different spatial quality and character, and reflects and absorbs the landscape in a different way. Wrapping around the Dombeya tree, the structure becomes part of the tree and reflects a sense of living in a tree — of living within and between nature. The sunscreens are made from invader plants; insulation and privacy screens from re-cycled plastic milk bottles cut into plant-like forms.


Nedbank Ridgeside Building, Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal by DHK Architects

Ridgeside was awarded a 4-Star rating under the Green Building Council of SA’s Green Star SA- Office v1 Design rating tool and demonstrates how buildings can contribute towards reducing carbon emissions and other negative environmental impacts. This high-quality, contemporary urban office park type development delivers just over 40 000 square metres of total bulk across five triple A-grade corporate office buildings and a business hotel. The office buildings are arrayed around a landscaped central avenue, each with its own access to the multi-level parking basement providing some 1400 bays. Dedicated parking bays have been allocated to fuel-efficient vehicles and the use of bicycles is encouraged by providing tenant and visitor bicycle storage, as well as cyclist showers, changing facilities and secure lockers. The buildings stretch to the extremities of the site allowing for a generous and high quality “pedestrian priority” public realm.


Ozmik House (Residential property in Lynnwood, Pretoria) by Arca Architects & Designers

In designing a South African building that accommodates Swiss and Norwegian agencies, ARCA was challenge to express a distinct design identity through built form. Ozmik House, located in Brooklyn, Pretoria, caters for immediate tenant-specific requirements, while anticipating change and future expansion through flexibility. The sheet metal roof and structure can be raised and supported on two columns to add a third story and sufficient basement parking has been provided for higher density. The design focuses on users experiencing a building that exhibits social ideals and serves the public. Simple, yet effective, building strategies promote user interaction with the built form. Its simplicity provides an alternative building typology intended to inspire a new development approach to the surrounding area.


Pick ‘n Pay on Nicol, Sandton by Bentel Associates

Pick ‘n Pay on Nicol uses daylight harvesting to make use of natural light with green building design and technologies such as building orientation, fenestration and louvres. Other eco-friendly features include water-wise planting, rainwater harvesting and grey water use. It is also uses energy efficient lighting in various ways. The confined site had its own influence on the shape and positioning of the building and this directly informed the multi-level arrangement. The main design criteria was to ensure the building had sufficient prominence and visibility on the site. At the same time, appropriate space had to be allocated for parking and back-of-house areas, such as delivery bays, had to be as unobtrusive as possible, owing to the development’s proximity to a nearby residential area. A number of environmentally sound materials were used, including a hard-wearing timber product that uses rice husk as its base, an environmentally friendly roof insulation product, paints low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), instead of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) draining pipes and waterless urinals.


Safmarine Sports Centre in Piketberg, Western Cape by Tsai Design Studio

A shipping company invited Tsai Design Studio to find a new life for used transportation containers and so a prototype for the Safmarine Sports Centre was born. Intended for school fields or community spaces in informal settlements, the containers serve as a base from which to encourage sports for youngsters. The robust building houses a coach’s office, two change rooms and an equipment store. A shelter is attached to provide shade for spectators while a gap in the roof offers ventilation and light. The roof structure folds down to become a source of revenue when used as an advertising billboard or a movie screen. A small grandstand finishes off this remarkable piece of recycling that the architects like to compare to the architectural equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Designed to be placed at any locations in the future, the idea of “touching the earth lightly” greatly influenced the decisions in the design and the assemblage of the sport centre to reduce its carbon footprint and the impact it has on the environment.


The Energy Works in Parktown North, Johannesburg by Daffonchio & Associate Architects

Some of The Energy Works’ green features include photovoltaic cells to generate electricity, solar panels to power under floor heating, rainwater collection tanks for bathroom and garden water needs and sustainable cork flooring and bamboo kitchen fittings. This has effectively responded to the clients’ brief for an office block that is independent of electrical and water utilities through utilization of on-site production, harvesting and efficiencies. The architects were required to create an energizing, uplifting work environment by linking a new, high-tech construction to the existing premises — a 1940s single-storey house. The new structure has a metallic, modern look, while maintaining the integrity of both structures. This has been achieved by cladding the base of the old house and the base of the new structure in sandstone, removing the old tiled roof and paining the original steel roof in the same charcoal colour of the new façade. The two buildings are now linked by the consistency of material and colours. The primary design idea was to create the work areas in the upper floors as a very light, ethereal space floating on a solid stone base.


Vele Secondary School in Limpopo by East Coast Architects

Schools play a critical role in the life of communities especially those situated in remote and forgotten areas. Part of the Creating Schools initiative, the project based its development on input from the local community. Future pupils were given cameras and taught to map the area, including their routes to school. They identified hazards — leopards, baboons and snakes among them — as well as special sites in the landscape. Their photos were exhibited to raise funds, but also inspired the school’s design and the selection of its building materials. In the end, the school installed a digital weather station to create effective solar design and rainwater harvesting strategies. Science labs and IT centres were added and pupils were trained to serve as guides in nearby game reserves. Energy conservation and water management are important themes both in terms of global resource implications and the reduction of school utility bills. The use of local resources – mainly stone and masonry construction – reduces the carbon footprint and invests in local economies.




Enhancing the Livelihoods in Cardboard Recycling – Project 3 by Richard Dobson Architects

The “Friends of the Recyclers” project is part of a long term plan for the City of Durban, adopted by the eThekwini Municipality’s Council to inspire citizens and other city stakeholders to work together and take ownership of a set of action areas to build a caring and liveable city.  As part of the implementation phase of the plan, the NGO Asiye eTafuleni has been commissioned by the municipality through its Imagine Durban Demonstration Fund, a joint initiative between the municipality and Sustainable Cities, a Vancouver based NGO, to implement an inner city cardboard recycling project. The project is aimed at improving the livelihoods of informal cardboard recyclers and bettering the management of the cardboard collection process within the public realm. Asiye eTafuleni is piloting the project with the distribution of custom-designed trolleys and equipment to a group of identified beneficiaries.


Housing Typologies Study by eThekwini City Architects

The majority of the more than two million subsidised houses built nationally since 1994 are detached homes with low density. Increasing pressure on urban land led to this study into the location, forms and desired housing densities for more compact and efficient neighbourhoods. This research was initiated by the eThekwini Municipality’s City Architects Department as a practical supplement to municipal housing delivery plans. The objective was to seek ways for the optimisation of quality and sustainability within subsidy housing projects. A range of housing typologies were developed which are applicable to prevailing local conditions the most significant of which is topography but which includes climate, construction technologies, property usage, affordability and housing finance. The study served as a public resource to enable all role-players, from community representatives to built environment professionals, to meet the urban housing challenge with greater authority, efficiency and understanding.


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