Page E2.2 . 28 June 2006                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Beauty and the Best


    The station hall will be illuminated by daylight from many large circular “light eyes.” The station's contemporary form is made possible by a material-efficient shell structure. The “zero-energy station” will operate without supplied energy for heating, cooling, or mechanical ventilation.

    The architects expect that the “light eyes” will give a sense of the subterranean to passersby above ground. Moreover, the plan creates a link the new and historic sections of the city. The new station will connect two previously divided urban quarters, promoting social cohesion and providing new opportunities for social interaction.

    Holcim jury member and TEN Arquitectos principal Enrique Norten praised the project for stimulating social pride through a new urban center. “This project innovatively incorporates material, structural, and product research into a straightforward and sustainable design for reclaiming urban space,” he said.

    Integrating Shantytown

    The second gold award went to the Caracas architecture firm Proyectos Arqui 5 for their project to upgrade and integrate urban infrastructure in the shantytown of San Rafael-Unido, also in Caracas.

    The "spontaneous settlement," home to 95,000, perches precariously on difficult mountainous terrain. This landslide-prone topography makes accessibility difficult; services and public spaces are few and poorly planned.

    This project, developed as part of the National Program of Rehabilitation for informal settlements, financed by the Venezuelan government and the World Bank, aimed to design new roads and stairs as service routes to provide electricity, drainage, garbage disposal, sewer, gas, and water.

    The idea was to go beyond the scale of the individual dwelling and to integrate the settlement with the rest of the city. The pedestrian network was classified into private stairs to be maintained by neighbors and public ones that will be reconstructed as part of this program.

    Designing these stairs was challenging because in many cases the available space for a walkway is scarcely five feet (one and a half meters) wide, and the slopes exceed 50 percent. The architects anticipate that this several-phase project will gradually upgrade and lead to a new face for San Rafael-Unido.

    Jury member Kaarin Taipale, of the CKIR Helsinki School of Economics, stated: “The urban integration project not only advances local pride and resourcefulness, it is an ethically responsive and environmentally sensitive approach to minimizing extreme socioeconomic hardship."

    Terraced Water System

    The Holcim silver went to a regional master plan that is a" fusion of preservation and innovation" aimed at strengthening the economic base of the Mulini Valley in Italy. The project was coordinated by Luigi Centola, Centola & Associati and Mariagiovanna Riitano, of the University of Salerno, in cooperation with partners from Italy, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

    The project aims to recover a terraced landscape and a system of preindustrial water mills currently in danger of collapse. The mills, and later hydroelectric power stations, had exploited local water power through ingenious systems of channels, tanks, level drops, funnels, and water wheels.

    The regional water power regeneration tackles a series of sensitive problems linked to the restoration, accessibility, and reuse of ancient structures in the landscape. The architects see the preservation of the historic structures as a delicate balance, in the Italian tradition, between the area's natural beauty and traces of human intervention.

    The regional master plan includes a series of water-powered elevators that overcome major level changes to make the mills accessible; water-powered cable freight cars for maintaining terrace walls, and micro turbines, installed at the major drops in elevation, using the original channels to produce energy without transforming the landscape.

    The project demonstrates an awareness of the evolution of the site and proficiently blends contemporary materials and technologies into the historic building fabric. Jury member Ashok B. Lall, principal of Ashok B Lall Architects, commended the project for enhancing the functional range of existing structures and carefully preserving the inherent qualities of the landscape. He said: “The project elegantly coordinates a diversity of stakeholders to produce a viable model for long-term improvement of natural and constructed environments."

    Affordable Housing in Canada

    The Holcim bronze was awarded to a low-cost housing and urban renewal project in Montréal that incorporates community involvement and many beneficial technologies for outstanding building performance and efficiency. The project team was headed by Daniel Pearl with Mark Poddubiuk and Bernard Olivier of Montréal-based L’OEUF (L'Office de L'Eclectisme Urbain et Fonctionnel).

    The "Greening the Infrastructure at Benny Farm" was described by ArchitectureWeek last year when it received the Holcim Gold Award for North America.

    Olivia L. la O’ Castillo, president of the Asia Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production (APRSCP), cited the environmental and social sensitivity of the project. She commented: “The integrated method of planning could be applied in many other circumstances. Thus the project can be a reference — even an inspiration — for similar projects anywhere.”

    The Holcim Awards competition is an initiative of the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, which is supported by Holcim Ltd., a supplier of cement and aggregates. The next cycle of the competition will open for entries in mid-2007.

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    ArchWeek Image

    One of two gold awards from the Holcim Foundation went to Ingenhoven und Partner Architeckten for a new railway station in Stuttgart, Germany.
    Image: Ingenhoven und Partner Architeckten

    ArchWeek Image

    The second Holcim gold went to the Venezuelan architecture firm Proyectos Arqui 5 for their project to upgrade and integrate urban infrastructure in the shantytown of San Rafael-Unido in Caracas.
    Image: Proyectos Arqui 5 Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Building pedestrian stairways and roads is key to integrating the steep-sloped settlement.
    Image: Proyectos Arqui 5 Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    A crumbling infrastructure has made it difficult to provide services to San Rafael-Unido.
    Image: Proyectos Arqui 5

    ArchWeek Image

    The Holcim silver went to a regional master plan that combines preservation and innovation to strengthen the economy of the Mulini Valley, Italy.
    Image: Centola & Associati

    ArchWeek Image

    The Italian project aims to recover a terraced landscape and a system of preindustrial water mills currently in danger of collapse.
    Image: Centola & Associati

    ArchWeek Image

    The Holcim bronze was awarded to "Greening the Infrastructure at Benny Farm" in Montréal.
    Image: L'OEUF Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Low-energy, affordable housing at Benny Farm.
    Image: L'OEUF


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