Saint-Gobain’s 2017 Africa Architecture Awards is the first Pan-African architecture competition to showcase the immense architectural talent emerging from our continent, and culminates with one overall winner who will receive a $10 000 grand prize. The competition aims to acknowledge any projects that have been conceived or built in Africa, and anyone can enter provided their project relates to the continent. ‘Very simply, Saint-Gobain wants to be the catalyst that brings African architecture and its diaspora into the global conversation, which is in response to the clear need for such dialogue,’ says Evan Lockhart-Barker, managing director of the Saint-Gobain Retail Business Development Initiative. ‘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.’
With six categories, the competition covers most aspects of architecture. The Built Award represents the broadest range of architectural innovations, from small-scale buildings to complete complexes. The Speculative Award welcomes entries of a more imaginative focus that will have an impact on future generations, and these entries are generally unbuilt. The Emerging Voices Award looks at conceptual work by architectural students, while The Critical Dialogue Award focuses on writing and discussion around architecture. The Special Lifetime Achievers’ Award will be presented to an architect who has made a significant contribution to the industry over a substantial period of time. And, lastly, the People’s Choice Award is chosen by the public online.
According to Professor Lesley Lokko, who chairs the Africa Architecture Awards Steering Panel and is head of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, ‘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 also looks firmly towards the future. Finding new means to tell an innovative, responsive and responsible narrative about what it means to be African – means that are modern, forward-looking and inventive but also proud of our past, our multiple heritages, cultures and contexts, and how these things come together – is shaping a new Africa.’
Although general entries have already closed, the People’s Choice Award is open for entrants until 18 August 2017, with the official awards ceremony taking place on 28 September 2017 at Cape Town’s much-anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which opens to the public that same week. And even if you’re not an architect, you can still participate by voting here for your favourite entry.