Published: 02.04.12

The Global Holcim Innovation 1st Prize 2012 presented to architects of ETH Zurich

A community center project in São Paulo, Brazil, and a high-efficiency concrete formwork technology, both projects led by architects of ETH Zurich, are ranked at the top of the winners of the Global Holcim Awards for 2012. The Holcim Innovation 1st Prize 2012 went to ETH Professors Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler for a new construction technology.

Media Release / Florian Meyer
Transforming a void into a productive zone and dynamic public space. The urban remediation and civic infrastructure hub in São Paulo, Brazil, is led by Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of ETH Zurich. (Image Holcim Foundation).
Transforming a void into a productive zone and dynamic public space. The urban remediation and civic infrastructure hub in São Paulo, Brazil, is led by Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of ETH Zurich. (Image Holcim Foundation). (large view)

53 leading sustainable construction projects were selected from 15 finalist submissions by a jury of independent experts led by Enrique Norten. The finalists were the regional Holcim Awards 2011 winning projects that had been selected from more than 6,000 entries in 146 countries. All 53 prize-winning projects at the regional level also competed for further prizes based on their contributions to sustainable construction through innovative building materials and construction technologies.

The Global Holcim Innovation prizes conferred by a jury of materials and industry experts led by Harry Gugger, Professor of Architecture at EPFL, went to projects in Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom. Four innovative architects of ETH Zurich were even awarded two prizes.

Silver for a multifunctional community center in Brazil

The Global Holcim Award Silver was awarded to a project that transforms an eroded landscape into a productive zone and dynamic public space. With about 100,000 inhabitants, the Paraisópolis favela in São Paulo is one of the world’s largest informally grown communities.

The project led by two Professors of ETH Zurich, Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of Urban-Think Tank, Brazil, includes a terraced public space with areas for urban agriculture, a water management system, a public amphitheater, a music school, a small concert hall, sports facilities, public spaces and transport infrastructure. It prevents further erosion and dangerous mudslides on the steep slopes and provides social and cultural infrastructure.

Enrique Norten, head of the jury, praised the project for its unifying concept, premium cultural facilities, architectural quality, and integrated involvement of the local community in a socially-inclusive planning and management approach. «This important intervention has the capacity to provide satisfaction and opportunities for the local community; it creates both connectivity and the construction in a viable way,» he said.

Gold for high-efficiency concrete formwork technology

Global Holcim Innovation Prizes of USD 150,000 in total were allocated by a separate jury and conferred for the first time. These prizes focus upon contributions to innovative building materials and construction technologies in the context of sustainable construction. This additional recognition of projects submitted in the Holcim Awards reflects the increasing emphasis on driving and fostering innovative new solutions by Holcim, the sponsor of the competition.

The Holcim Innovation 1st Prize 2012 went to Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler, Professors of Architecture and Computer-Aided Manufacturing Processes at ETH Zurich, for a construction technology using molds that combine existing processes and materials in a new way to fabricate cast-on-site concrete structures with reusable and digitally-fabricated wax formwork.

This approach saves material and energy compared to traditional molds, such as expanded polystyrene blocks for single-use applications or flexed sheets of material which are limited to low curvatures. The head of the Innovation Prize jury, Harry Gugger, acclaimed the project as an advance in the use of molding for complex forms. «Until now, complex concrete forms have required molds that are difficult to build and created a great deal of waste – but this approach eliminates both of these challenges,» he said.

International competition in sustainable construction

The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction competition seeks innovative, future-oriented and tangible construction projects to promote sustainable responses to the technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues affecting building and construction on a local, regional and global level.
To compare the diverse submissions, the juries use the “target issues” for sustainable construction which address the triple bottom line of environmental performance, social responsibility and economic efficiency and also cover architectural quality and the suitability for broad-scale application and multiplication of the project’s features.
The competition has been run by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation since 2004, offers USD 2 million in prize money per three-year cycle, and is supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries.

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