Holcim Awards; Sustainable Construction Competition

February 9, 2011

Holcim ltd. is a company that was founded in Switzerland in 1912 and has grown to become one of the world’s largest suppliers of cement and aggregates.  They are a company that has always been dedicated to sustainability and in 2003 Holcim ltd. partnered with a variety of universities throughout the world and developed Holcim Foundation and the Awards for Sustainable Construction. These awards are to raise awareness and encourage a more sustainable future.

“The Holcim Foundation feels privileged to be associated with an array of ground-breaking projects and initiatives, and be in a position to share the valuable knowledge and insights that arise from them.”

This regional/global contest is in 3-year intervals with $2 million awarded in prizes.  The winners of the regional contest advance to the global contest.  The first contest was in 2005/2006 and had more than 3000 entries from 120 different countries.  The two gold global prizes that were awarded were to Germany for its “Main Station Stuttgart” and to Venezuela for its “Upgrading San Rafael – Unido, Urban Integration Project.” 

The second contest’s gold winner in 2008/2009 was the “River Remediation and Urban Development Scheme” in Fez, Morocco by Architect, Aziza Chadeni and Urban Planner, Takako Tajima.  Enrique Norten, member of the global jury and the Advisory Board of the Holcim Foundation, said about Fez,

“What distinguishes this project is its wisdom.  It uses what is available and builds upon it.  At the same time, it keeps the process open for future needs and opportunities.”

Fez, Morocco

The contest is open for entries for its third competition.  The deadline is March 23, 2011.  It is open to professionals in the design and construction fields, but there is also a student or “next generation” category.  Companies or individuals that would like to participate can get the entry form and all of their questions answered at the Holcim Awards website:  www.holcimawards.org.

The website offers examples and publications of past entries, plus describes the importance of sustainable practice in everyday life.  In 2010 Re-Inventing Construction, a 440-page book was published.  The book was edited by Ruby Press in Berlin, can be found at www.ruby-press.com, and contains information from 38 internationally renowned architects, engineers and scholars.  It is based on this year’s competition and answers the question,

“How must architecture, engineering and construction evolve so that sustainability is automatically embedded in the way the built environment is designed, constructed, used and recycled?”

Projects are evaluated and ranked by regional juries at their partnered Universities in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa-Middle East, and Asia Pacific.  They are based on how they deal with the five targeted areas of issues:

  • Innovation and transferability – Progress
  • Ethical standards and social equity – People
  • Environmental quality and resource efficiency – Planet
  • Economic performance and compatibility – Prosperity
  • Contextual and aesthetic impact – Proficiency

The prizes are distributed regionally in categories of gold, silver, bronze, four acknowledgement awards, up to three innovation prizes, and three “next generation” awards.  The winners of the gold, silver and bronze awards move on to the global competition.  There is no global competition for students, only professionals, and students’ works do not have to be actual projects, but can be only ideas.

Some other past winners are Seville, Spain for the “Metropol Parasol” which received the award of bronze Europe in 2005, and Vele and Vryheid in South Africa’s “School Infrastructure from Local Resources” which earned Acknowledgement prize Africa-Middle East 2008.  More locally, prizes have been issued to Sudbury, Canada at the level of bronze North America 2008 for “Living with Lakes Centre for Freshwater Restoration and Research.”  It will be LEED certified and completed spring of this year.  Also San Francisco received the silver North America 2005 award for the “New Sustainable California Academy of Sciences” (to be featured in its own article). 

Seville, Spain

Vele and Vryheid, South Aftrica

Sudbury, Canada

San Francisco, Ca


 “The Holcim Foundation publishes an international series of monographs showcasing outstanding examples of sustainable construction to promote best practice, pioneer fresh solutions, and inspire architects, engineers, planners, developers and contractors to adopt sustainable parameters for their building projects.”

It is inspiring to know that awards such as Holcim’s exist and that companies are pushing the design envelope to be better, greener, and more internationally acknowledged.






Photographs Resources:




Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.