Appropriately held on the rooftop of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the most talked-about building in Cape Town at the moment, the gala awards ceremony for the Africa Architecture Awards was a glittering affair. The ceremony hosted more than 130 guests, including the Consul General of France in Cape Town, Mr Laurent Amar, the Chairman of the French South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philip Geromont, and Claude van Wyk of the Kingdom of The Netherlands Consulate General in Cape Town. The focus was the announcement of the inaugural Grand Prix and category winners, and shortlisted finalists were flown to the event.
The African Architecture Awards is the first-ever Pan-African awards programme of its kind, and a culmination of a two-year project initiated and supported by construction-industry innovator Saint-Gobain. The steering panel is led by the University of Johannesburg’s head of the Graduate School of Architecture, Associate Professor Lesley Lokko, with strategic input from ambassador Phill Mashabane, advisor Zahira Asmal of The City agency, and patron Ghanaian British architect, Sir David Adjaye – one of the most influential voices in architecture – so it’s certainly not short on prestige.
According to Adjaye, ‘the Africa Architecture Awards are very critical. Now is the time to promote excellence and best practice on the continent. The Africa Architecture Awards are particularly important because this is the moment that a lot is happening on the continent in terms of development, in terms of the architecture that’s being produced.’ The competition piqued the interest of architects working on projects all around Africa, with more than 300 entries from the 32 countries entered.
Of those 300 projects, 21 were chosen by the master jury earlier this year. Two days prior to the awards ceremony, the judging panel reconvened to decide on the most deserving entries across four categories, as well as settle on a Grand Prix winner. Of the categories, Forum de Arquitectura by CEICA was placed first for Critical Dialogue, while The Territory In-between by Guinea’s Aissata Balde won the Speculative category. The Exchange Consulate: Trading Passports for Hyper-Performative Economic Enclaves by Nigerian student Ogundare Olawale Israel was awarded the Emerging Voices trophy and uMkhumbane Museum by Choromanski Architects took the prize for the Built category.
uMkhumbane Museum also won the Grand Prix award as it best describes the ultimate objective of the Africa Architecture Awards, which is to inspire the future of African architecture. The People’s Choice award – which attracted over a million votes from the public across a range of projects – went to James Cubitt Architects Lagos for the speculative project titled Bank Head Office.
For more details, visit africaarchitectureawards.com.