Designs that are changing the face and future of architecture in South Africa

Today’s most innovative architects have set out to respond to one of society’s greatest challenges: designing a world today that can adapt to a radically different tomorrow.

In South Africa, the AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and Innovation recognises these types of contributions that bring sustainable innovation to living environments. With growing awareness that sustainability needs to play an integral role in present-day designs, the awards acknowledge applicants in four respective categories: sustainable architecture, research in sustainability, sustainable product or technology and sustainable social programmes.

Here are the future-focused finalists for the sustainable architecture category and the designs that are launching them towards a better tomorrow:

Northcliff House by Architecture for a Change (A4aC)

This new house in Northcliff, Johannesburg by Architecture for a Change (A4aC) challenges conventional notions of what a house should be on our day and age. By incorporating structures like shipping containers and lightweight steel, these architects designed for the future. The house is lightweight and energy efficient in its use of systems and materials, according to A4aC.

House Burnett Prinsloo by Robert de Jager Architects

House Burnett Prinsloo is located in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. The client’s brief was for a compact, elegant, clean-lined home, full of light and views of the garden and mountain, with an overall sense of peace and space, according to Robert de Jager Architects.  This house, that lies nestled along the forested banks of the Liesbeek River, won the CIfA (Cape Institute for Architecture) 2017 Award for Architecture.

Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre by architect Lewis Levin

The Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC) raises awareness of the evils of genocide with a particular focus on the Holocaust and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The aim of the JHGC’s design wasn’t just to create a building that looks nice but something that could add to the work of the survivors and their witness accounts, architect Lewis Levin previously told the The Daily Maverick.

Faced with the challenge of encapsulating a history of horror, Levin managed to pull together a strikingly symbolic building that’s been the most fulfilling project he’s worked on so far. The JHGC has already won an award for excellence at this year’s Corobrik SAIA Architectural Awards.

Fulham Heights by Local Studio (Pty) Ltd

Fulham Heights is one of the first mixed-use densification projects that promote the principals and guidelines of the Johannesburg Corridors of Freedom policy. This project is also one of the largest light-weight steel structures in South Africa. Fulham Heights is a conversion of an old corner shop, which was a Chinese restaurant for many years, and Local Studio (Pty) Ltd devised a design that would be very sensitive to the heritage of the corner shop.

RBDIZ Entrance Gate by Jeremy Steere Architect

Commissioned by the provincial KwaZulu-Natal government as its business entity, the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone is a world class, fully serviced industrial estate located near Richards Bay. The brief required a landmark gateway into the industrial estate that needed to be both environmentally sensitive and architecturally bold, according to Jeremy Steere Architect.

The long-term sustainability of the building was carefully considered and all the roofs, for example, are designed to collect rainwater into a pond. The water is then cleaned and pumped to underground water tanks.

Malawi Church by A4aC

This new church building in Malawi showcases an effortless merger between design and sustainability through its raw finishes that double-up as natural lighting.  Inspiration for the project was found within the community, according to Architecture for a Change (A4aC). “The villagers use circular enclosures to protect young plants. This was used as an analogy for the new building; it should act as a protective space, allowing for persons to grow into something bigger and stronger.”

Silindokuhle Preschool by Collectif saga

The Silindokuhle Prechool is the product of a community project in Joe Slovo West, an informal area in the suburbs of Port Elizabeth. The architects for this project, Collectif saga, have been involved in projects in the area since 2014. In 2017, they set out to build better infrastructure for a local preschool founded by Patricia Piyani. Materials and objects were collected from all over the city and reused to create this beautifully unique pre-school, according to Arch Daily.
Silindokuhle Preschool by Collectif Saga. (Photo courtesy of SAGA)

The winner of the 2017/2018 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and Innovation will be announced on the 26th of October at a gala event at Zeitz MOCAA.

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