Since its inception in 2009, the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award has grown into South Africa’s most prestigious sustainability award programme, attracting an exciting range of entries. By honouring outstanding achievements in sustainable architecture, the awards programme has taken the lead in creating public awareness and debate about sustainability in the built environment.
Most recently, AfriSam launched the AfriSam Student Design Challenge to incentivise the next generation of designers to foreground sustainable solutions in design thinking. An event hosted recently at the internationally acclaimed at the Johannesburg Council Chamber in Braamfontein set the scene for the decade celebration of sustainable architecture, and also for the announcement of the first student winner. Adjudicators were looking for entries that reflected forward-thinking solutions and that demonstrated a better future for all.
The inaugural brief went out to architecture schools across Gauteng who were required to take an in-depth look at Joubert Park / the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) and how to connect the museum to its immediate community and other audiences.
The winning design came from Lenasia resident, 23-year old Hashim Tarmahomed, who is currently doing his Honours degree in Architecture Studies at Wits University and grabbed the opportunity to showcase his creative design and love for sustainability.
He said the challenge to craft a symbiotic relationship between the JAG, its rich art collection and its surrounds was interesting. “The brief was clear: to reconsider the agency of boundaries and to create a new public interface.
“My entry was built around the realisation that many portrait photographers come to the park to use it as a makeshift backdrop, but are not given a platform to create. My design concept was to build on a gallery-that-dissolves-into-the-park idea. The existing structures still exhibit a legacy of exclusion and segregation upon which they were built. My proposal was for the JAG make way for a public photography centre within its precinct to encourage greater public participation, and for the remaining space to continue as a gallery.”
“The project should not be seen as the gallery leaking into the streets but rather a symbiotic relationship between them. The streets and its people own the gallery as much as they do the street. Providing this sense of ownership creates a sense of place – where you can walk and cross roads feeling safe, where you can trade in a space that isn’t temporary, where you can stroll right through a gallery and emerge on the other side without passing any cold barriers, then you belong.
“I always want to remain socially aware in all that I create. My dream is not just to design beautiful buildings, but to enrich people’s lives,” added Tarahomed.
In support of the all-important sustainability agenda, AfriSam and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) is announcing a call for entries in the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award. All architects, engineers, project managers and design practitioners are called to enter projects with a harmonious vision of shaping communities for livable sustainability.
The AfriSam-SAIA Award supports a learning journey towards regenerative design with an emphasis on sustainability, innovation, transformation and multidisciplinary efforts.
“We need to respond to the needs of our world by pursuing new methods of building that are economical and environmentally conscious. We need to find ways to improve material efficiency, design and the re-use of buildings. It is also our duty to revisit ancient best practices and knowledge systems that will set us on a new trajectory towards sustainability,” said Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa, President of SAIA.
“Leaders in the built environment will have an important role to play in creating new spaces that have the power to elevate, dignify and provide a better quality of life for everyone. Sustainability is not just about buildings, it’s about changing and improving lives.” Dr Philippa Tumubweinee, practising professional architect and academic.
Entries for the Sustainable Design award are accepted in four categories:
- Sustainable Architecture;
- Research in Sustainability;
- Sustainable Products and Technology;
- Sustainable Social Programmes.
Going into detail about the categories Tumubweinee said: “Apart from recognising excellence in ‘sustainable architecture’ and ‘research in sustainability’, we also invite entries that make innovative contributions to the fields of ‘sustainable products and technology’ and ‘sustainable social programmes’.
“We encourage architects in Africa to look into their own history and heritage to produce architecture that is reflective of the regions in which buildings exist. Sustainability is not only about technology, but also about an integrated design approach – of relating to one’s self, other people and the environment.
“It is as basic as understanding traditional building techniques and rebooting them to build spaces that respect the identity, climate and cultural history of our communities.
“We know that a more sustainable world is possible through multidisciplinary collaboration across all industries. By taking an integrated design approach to communities, planning, research, architecture, building practice, natural systems and technology we can create a world that benefits a more inclusive and sustainable society,” said Mpahlwa.
The SAIA recognises the importance of “green” building and encourages its members to incorporate sustainability in building design at an early stage.