Green Solutions Awards 2020-21

Construction21 unveiled the international winners

The Green Solutions Awards ceremony took place in Glasgow on Wednesday 10 November 2021 as part of the World Climate Conference COP26. The competition, organised by the international Construction21 platform, rewards outstanding architectural projects that address the challenges of climate protection and sustainability in an innovative way. Winners were selected from 192 entries from 25 countries in eight categories. 16 other projects received recognition from the jury, which is made up of experts in sustainable construction from around the world. The jury was particularly impressed by these projects because they address the key issues of sustainable construction: economy of materials, energy efficiency, health and user comfort, off-site prefabrication, protection of biodiversity and species, circular economy, and many more. They were also selected because they have the potential to inspire building sector professionals and be adapted and developed on a large scale.

Mehr.WERT.Pavillon © Zooey Braun

The Mehr.WERT.Pavillon by 2hs architects and engineer PartGmbB Hebel Heisel Schlesier with Lisa Krämer and Simon Sommer, built up on the Bundesgartenschau 2019 in Heilbronn, was awarded the Sustainable Infrastructure Grand Prize. The building proved that it is already possible today to design and realise sophisticated architecture entirely from the materials of the urban mine, and to apply the principles of the circular economy in its construction without compromise. The materials used for the construction were all selected according to these requirements and joined only with the help of detachable, mechanical connections, so that they can be completely reused or recycled without any loss of value. However, the structure was so convincing that it has now been completely relocated for the time being after the end of the exhibition and will continue to exist for a few more years near its original location – as a material storage facility, social meeting place and physical proof that it is already possible to build in a cycle-friendly manner today. The jury stated: “By betting on the circular economy, it shows how urban areas can be sources of materials. The Mehr Wert Pavilion in Germany is built entirely from recycled materials and can be completely dismantled. A feat in terms of sobriety that should send a signal to all planners and builders.”

Turo de la Peira © Enric Duch

The Sustainable Construction Grand Prize went to the Turo de la Peira in Barcelona, Spain by the architects Anna Noguera and Javier Fernández and the landscape architects Anna Zahonero, Pepa Morán and Víctor Adorno. The building is a 100% prefabricated wooden construction and combines sports centre and indoor pool with almost zero consumption. It is equipped with a bioclimatic vegetated façade that opens up to a landscaped public space providing environmental quality and a place for social interaction. A combination of heat pump, solar and photovoltaic system ensures the building’s supply of renewable energy. In its assessment, the jury particularly emphasised the complexity of the overall concept consisting of landscape architecture, energy and building concept.

Green Factory © Semaphore Lyon and Marc Campesi

The Sustainable Renovation Grand Prize was awarded to the Green Factory in Lyon, France. The project is characterised by three concrete concepts: rehabilitating, preserving, enhancing. Green Factory is a mid-twentieth century building combining a steel frame and concrete structure (posts & beams & ribbed slab). The aim was to turn this energy-intensive and uncomfortable industrial wasteland into a pleasant place to live and work in all seasons and to respond efficiently to the environmental challenges of the next few decades by proposing an efficient, frugal rehabilitation that respects the building’s industrial past and its environment. The jury stated with regard to the transformation of the old factory into a service building and laboratory: “Everything is there, the materials used are low-carbon or bio-sourced, the air quality is monitored in real time and the whole approach combines everything that is necessary for a sustainable project.”

Nanterre Coeur Université © Bouygues Immobilier et Graphix Images

The project Nanterre Coeur Université in Nanterre, France, developed by the heritage architect Cecile Remond, received the Sustainable District Grand Prize for its ambition to adapt the territory to its uses. The jury described the completed district as a “one of the pioneers in promoting positive energy buildings and an urban smart grid involving various renewable energies”. The aim of the project was to offer a creative district to restore pride and identity to the current inhabitants of neighboring districts and more generally to all the inhabitants of the city, through an ambitious artistic approach. The Nanterre Coeur University consists of 497 residential units, two office buildings, around 30 shops and a dozen restaurants, leisure facilities (a multiplex with 10 cinemas, a climbing wall and a fitness centre) and a shared car park with 770 parking spaces for people in the surrounding area. Developed by different architecture offices the design of the buildings is based on the quality of the materials used, on the vegetation, on the ancillary spaces and on the use values and on the intrinsic performance of each of the buildings.

'Antonio Brancati' Middle School © Coop Consorzio Conscoop Formula Servizi, Idrotermica Coop, Siem Impianti

The award in the Energy & Temperate Climates category was won by the architect Margherita Finamore for the “Antonio Brancati” Middle School in Pesaro, Italy. Building the school on an abandoned urban area, the ambition of the city was to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy, enabling construction firms to use a new system beyond the current outdated ‘take-make-dispose’ model and contribute to mainstreaming the circular economy concept within and outside the city. The school excels in energy and environmental efficiency, thanks to a shell designed to avoid dispersion and prevent overheating thanks to the ventilated wall and solar screens. The call for tenders included a study of thermo-hygrometric, acoustic and lighting parameters, paying great attention to internal wellbeing to obtain a healthy, welcoming environment with the best conditions for study. Consumption is optimised thanks to a system of automation and remote control of the systems. Attention is also paid to circular economy issues and to the healthiness of the environment by monitoring temperature, humidity, the presence of CO2, lighting factors with the use of dimmable LED lamps with presence sensors in the classrooms and a proper exchange of air to ensure the introduction of filtered and purified air from outside. The overall intention was to optimise circularity and enhance the use of sustainable building material and technologies, save raw materials, and minimise waste from the construction of the building.

Rivière Salée Medico Social Center © Urban Ecology Laboratory

In the Energy & Hot Climates category, the Rivière-Salée Medico-Social Center in Nouméa, Nouvelle-Calédonie, France by LAB Réunion was awarded. The building brings together medical care and consultation rooms, a radiology center, an analysis laboratory, offices, waiting areas and rest areas for the public or staff. The building develops around a large central patio. This is heavily landscaped, making it possible to half-open the rooms to the outdoors and protect them from the weather and city noises. This patio is designed as a chimney to promote air circulation and natural ventilation. The street-facing façades all have double skin wooden bars and solar shading. In this way, most of the rooms can operate with natural ventilation and without air conditioning, opening up to a quiet and shady oasis in the middle of the overheated city. The increased use of wood as a biological building material contributes to a lower carbon footprint and a good indoor climate for the users.

The award in the category Low Carbon went to the project of four passive social housing units in straw wood in Plainfaing, France by ASP Architecture. The building is characterized by a simple and pragmatic design methodology: The reduction to a minimum of all needs by using bioclimatism, compactness, optimization of the plan and technical rooms expresses the building’s obriety. The design is made efficient through its perfectly continuous and hyper-insulated structure and envelope, absolute airtightness and certified high efficiency double flow ventilation. The layout of the building allows for the centralisation of energy systems, and heat is also recovered from the grey water of the showers. Renewables are focused by the use of regenerative energies and materials for the construction of structural materials. These local materials allow for simple and sober deconstruction, and are recyclable. For the passive, the bioclimatic design emphasizes the envelope which is a priority and will not change for 60 years unlike the energy systems. Concerning social issues the aim was also to offer extremely low energy costs to the tenants, who are low-income families. This reduction in allows for the social integration of families and an increase of social awareness.

Schroeder 2020 © Raoul Somers

In the category Health & Comfort, the award was given to the project Schroeder 2020 in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg by Schroeder & Associés and Architecture & Urbanisme 21. One of the basic design principles is the durability of the building: The choice of materials is focused in order to protect resources but also in the context of measures against global warming. This approach runs through the entire building: through a high degree of flexibility in the spatial conception, the building can always be adapted to future needs. Designing in separable material layers in order to be able to consider their life cycles individually was of great importance in this project. The building is also a model project for digitalisation in the construction sector and interdisciplinary cooperation: Under the motto “Engineering the Future together” the entire building was modelled using the Building Information Modeling (BIM) method. Having previously followed in-depth training on software compatible with this methodology, the project developers were able to have continuous exchanges within the study group between the architect and the civil and technical engineers. Through this coordination, conflicts on site were considerably reduced.

More information about the international winners of the Green Solutions Awards 2020-21 here.