Calling on all architectural practitioners to enter the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award

Sustainability should be the baseline in all design, and social inclusion should be a defining feature of South African architecture. In support of the all-important sustainability agenda, AfriSam and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) is announcing a call for entries in the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award. All architects, engineers, project managers and design practitioners are called to enter projects with a harmonious vision of shaping communities for livable sustainability. This is one competition where adjudicators are looking for entries that reflect forward-thinking designs that have a better future for all in mind. On the same occasion, we will announce the winner of the inaugural AfriSam Student Design Challenge which calls on students to design with sustainable solutions for existing architecture and urban design.

Since its inception in 2009, the AfriSam-SAIA Award has celebrated a decade of contributions to sustainable architecture and innovation. This has grown into South Africa’s most prestigious sustainability award, drawing an exciting range of entries, honouring outstanding achievements in sustainable architecture and creating public awareness and debate in the built environment.

The AfriSam-SAIA Award supports a learning journey towards regenerative design with an emphasis on sustainability, innovation, transformation and multidisciplinary efforts.

“We need to respond to the needs of our world by pursuing new methods of building that are economical and environmentally conscious. We need to find ways to improve material efficiency, design and the re-use of buildings. It is also our duty to revisit ancient best practices and knowledge systems that will set us on a new trajectory towards sustainability,” said Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa, President of SAIA.

“Leaders in the built environment will have an important role to play in creating new spaces that have the power to elevate, dignify and provide a better quality of life for everyone. Sustainability is not just about buildings, it’s about changing and improving lives.” Dr Philippa Tumubweinee, practising professional architect and academic.

Entries for the Sustainable Design award are accepted in four categories:

  • Sustainable Architecture;
  • Research in Sustainability;
  • Sustainable Products and Technology;
  • Sustainable Social Programmes.

Going into detail about the categories Tumubweinee said: “Apart from recognising excellence in ‘sustainable architecture’ and ‘research in sustainability’, we also invite entries that make innovative contributions to the fields of ‘sustainable products and technology’ and ‘sustainable social programmes’.

“We encourage architects in Africa to look into their own history and heritage to produce architecture that is reflective of the regions in which buildings exist. Sustainability is not only about technology, but also about an integrated design approach – of relating to one’s self, other people and the environment.”

“It is as basic as understanding traditional building techniques and rebooting them to build spaces that respect the identity, climate and cultural history of our communities.”

“We know that a more sustainable world is possible through multidisciplinary collaboration across all industries. By taking an integrated design approach to communities, planning, research, architecture, building practice, natural systems and technology we can create a world that benefits a more inclusive and sustainable society,” said Mpahlwa.

The South African Institute of Architects recognises the importance of “green” building and encourages its members to incorporate sustainability in building design at an early stage.

We are looking for architectural innovations that will reshape the country’s buildings both in look and in function. These entries must fight for the most innovative architecture achievements that will stand for a brighter, greener future. Anyone looking to enter should get familiar with the category specifications before entering. More than one project may be submitted (separate entries for each) and entries are free. We welcome all architects and non-architects, including students to submit their designs (more than one is permitted). All 2019/2020 entries must be submitted online: before 31 March 2020.

The prestigious adjudicator panel for the 2019/2020 include:

  • Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa, our SAIA President, professional architect, and convener
  • Somers Govender, practising professional architect
  • Dr Gillian Adendorff, practising senior professional architect
  • Dr Philippa Tumubweinee, practising professional architect, academic and expert in sustainable architecture;
  • Sphephelo Mhlongo, previous winner

Join us on Wednesday the 16 October 2019 at the Johannesburg Council Chamber, 158 Civic Boulevard, Braamfontein at 4pm. Entry is free – and includes a presentation by studioMAS, who are the designers of the council chambers that represent the pinnacle of ‘green building’ practice and is the first public owned Green Star rated.


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