The inaugural Africa Architecture Awards, the first pan-African awards programme of its kind and launched by French manufacturing multinational Saint-Gobain, aims to recognise and reward worthy projects from across the African continent, with the overall winner garnering a $10 000 prize.
The awards, which will be held in Cape Town on September 28, aim to acknowledge standout architectural projects that have been conceived of and/or built on the African continent, and invite entries and nominations from the industry. Any individual or company that meets the entry criteria can enter, or be entered, as long as the project pertains to Africa.
“Saint-Gobain very simply wants to be the catalyst that brings African architecture and its diaspora into the global conversation, in response to the clear need for such dialogue,” explains Saint-Gobain retail business development initiative MD Evan Lockhart-Barker.
He adds that the awards have been established to showcase Africa’s innovative and collaborative style of solving problems, architecturally or otherwise. “Saint-Gobain has engaged with some of the best minds in the field to establish this programme so that the awards are relevant, contextual and progressive. We look forward to seeing the future stars and collaborative efforts this initiative will reveal,” he comments.
The master jury will identify a shortlist of 20 projects, four trophy winners and one grand prix winner. The official awards ceremony is set to take place at the much-anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, designed by significant British architect Thomas Heatherwick, which opens to the public that very same week.The
Lifetime Achiever’s award is given at the discretion of the master jury. It is awarded to an architect or architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and/or urban design over a substantial period.
Rather than adopt the more conventional categories of other global awards programmes, the master jury will approach the awards through a value-based system of innovation, identification of heritage and tradition, as well as implementation.
Lockhart-Barker highlights that the awards are aimed at promoting awareness of the challenges and opportunities inherent in Africa’s built environment through dialogue, analysis and critique. “The awards will celebrate design excellence and promote an increased awareness of the role and importance of sound architectural theory and practice across Africa and the diaspora. The intention is to honour established architects and encourage emerging and future voices,” he says.
According to Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg head and Africa Architecture Awards steering panel chair Professor Lesley Lokko: “These awards present an opportunity to be an integral part of building an architectural culture that is pan-African in its scope and ambition, but one that looks firmly towards the future. Finding new means to tell an innovative, responsive and responsible narrative about what it means to be African, modern, forward-looking, inventive but also proud of our past, our multiple heritages, cultures and contexts, and how these things coming together are shaping a new Africa.”