The Zumtobel Group Award: Innovations for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment promotes social, technical, and environmental responsibility by rewarding innovative endeavours. Over the last three months, in collaboration with Zumtobel AG, uncube has been presenting the best of the shortlisted candidates in each of the 2014 award’s three categories: Initiatives and Applied Innovations, Buildings and Urban Developments, and this month we announce the winners, who each receive a prize of €50,000.
On September 22, 2014 the international expert jury announced selected projects from Arup of Germany, Studio Tamassociati of Italy and Elemental of Chile as the winners in the respective categories. The jury initially selected 15 projects as nominees from among 356 submissions for the award – which was curated by Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin. The winning projects are marked by their innovative and ground-breaking character. “Voting to find the number one project was very close in all three categories,” said the chairman of the jury, Winy Maas. “A key criterion for the jury this year was innovation, technically but also in planning and participation processes and in ecological and social challenges.”
The expert jury panel for the Zumtobel Group Award 2014 included:
Kunlé Adeyemi – Architect & Urbanist / Founder NLÉ, Amsterdam (NL)
Yung Ho Chang – Architect / Studio FCJZ, Beijing (CN)
Brian Cody – Chair of the Institute of Buildings and Energy, Graz University of Technology (AT)
Winy Maas – Architect / MVRDV, Rotterdam (NL)
Ulrich Schumacher – CEO Zumtobel Group
Kazuyo Sejima – Architect / SANAA, Tokyo (JP)
Rainer Walz – Head of the Competence Center Sustainability and Infrastructure Systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe
In March 2013 the BIQ, a four-storey residential building designed by SPLITTERWERK architects, was completed as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. It showcases the first Solar-Leaf façade: a building integrated system absorbing CO2 emissions, while cultivating microalgae to generate biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. The environment for photosynthesis is provided by glass photobioreactors installed on the southwest and southeast elevations. The façade has three main benefits: a) Generation of high-quality biomass for energetic use or as a resource for food and pharmaceutical industry (urban farming); b) generation of solar thermal heat; c) use as a dynamic shading device. Cultivating microalgae in flat panel photobioreactors requires no additional land-use and is largely independent from weather conditions, allowing installations in urban environments. The carbon required to feed the algae is taken from a combustion process in proximity of the façade installation to implement a short carbon cycle, preventing carbon emissions to contribute to climate change. Microalgae also contain high-quality proteins, vitamins and amino acids that make it a valuable resource for the food and pharmaceutical industry. This network of diverse reconstruction activities constitutes an effective method for rebuilding the region, and also suggests new ways for architects to engage with society, sometimes as collaborators, sometimes as advisors, and sometimes as rebels.
“In the future we need to develop
buildings which don’t just offer
shelter and minimise energy
consumption but also try to deliver
answers to how we provide the
urban environment with energy,
water and better air quality ...
for the first time we have an
application that actually works
in an existing building.”
The Port Sudan Paediatric Centre is located in a large desert between two hut settlements. It is a very poor area with a large concentration of refugees. This clinic is one of the few health outposts providing free health care to children of this large region. The building was designed for Emergency, an Italian NGO who provides free medical and surgical treatment to the civilian victims of war, landmines and poverty.
Because of the extreme conditions involved, simplicity was a strategy priority for this project, but without losing sight of quality medical and architectural standards for the project.
The one-storey building has three outpatient clinics, a 14-bed ward, a dispensary, spaces for diagnostic exams and service areas. The building adopted the adaptive principles of many Arab houses: minimising sun-exposed sides and opting for a hollow space conformation. As the Sudanese climate is extreme (50 degrees Celcius and sandstorms) a natural air treatment inspired by Iranian traditional systems called a badgir was adopted and integrated into a system of mechanical cooling. The resulting reduction in electricity consumption for air conditioning is estimated at about 70 per cent.
The need to purify wastewater from the clinics presented an opportunity to build public gardens - the only public spaces in the area: treatment for the water, and for the souls of patients and staff alike.
Jury statement: “This project makes a
valuable contribution to the medical
and social care of the local people
and its holistic design process
is very much in the spirit of
the Zumtobel Group Award.
The outcome is an ambitious design
that is focused primarily on its
practical purpose, without neglecting
architectural, sustainability and aesthetic
When an 8.8 Richter scale magnitude earthquake hit Chile in 2010, almost 500 people died in the following tsunami. After this catastrophe Elemental was given 100 days to come up with a strategy to rebuild the city of Constitución, located 400 kilometres south of Santiago, which was almost completely destroyed. The design process was participatory: asking residents to precisely define their needs and focus on establishing priorities. It was important to the designers that the community felt empowered enough to exert pressure on the authorities during implementation. One critical question was how to best protect the city against future tsunamis. The strategy was to dissipate, rather than resist the energy of nature: a geographical answer to a geographical threat. Elemental proposed planting a forest to protect the city from future tsunamis. When the waves first hit Constitución, they were 12 metres tall; a forested island to the north of the city dissipated their energy and, by the time they reached the city centre, they were only 6 meters tall. The idea was therefore to protect the city by redeveloping the riverfront with trees. This alternative was the most challenging, politically and socially, because it required the city to expropriate private land.
Jury statement: “By adopting a
bottom-up approach, in a very
constructive way a joint decision
has been reached regarding what
the city should look like in the future.
This exemplary concept is not
restricted to Constitución, but could
also apply in many geographies
around the world that have been
destroyed by natural disasters.”