‘Towers of Strength in India – Multifunctional amenities and services in informal settlements’ has won the LafargeHolcim Awards Next Generation 2nd prize Asia Pacific (US$20,000). It is a project by Lorenzo Fernandes, an architect in Mumbai, India.
“This project is a very interesting approach to land use,” said Marilyne Andersen, one of the jury members from the LafargeHolcim Foundation Academic Committee, and also a professor of sustainable construction technologies at EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland.
“It is an acupunctural intervention that brings in new social spaces on a vertical scale, giving slums a new legitimacy.” The jury assesses the concept as an optimistic vision of how architecture can enhance social life.
Enhancement of informal settlements
Ambudjwadi is an informal settlement in northwest Mumbai. Its inhabitants are known to be socially, economically and politically marginalised, with urban infrastructure that is nearly non-existent.
“In cities like Mumbai, the policies for informal settlements state that formal housing is the only alternative,” said Mr Fernandes. “My project argues that housing already exists there; it merely lacks infrastructure and amenities.”
This project therefore aims to develop mid-rise buildings within the informal community. They occupy limited space but provide a great deal of usable floor area. The towers are expected to be built by local construction workers, so that the residents can express their own identity.
The buildings will house offices, training facilities, a healthcare centre and public restaurants. Renewable energy systems will also be made available to ensure sustainable and economical operation.
Now in its sixth edition (2020-2021), the triennial LafargeHolcim Awards event is considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design. The Next Generation category recognises the visionary concepts and bold ideas of young professionals and students. For the Asia Pacific region, there are five projects that have received Next Generation prizes.
The issue of sustainability in the construction industry is of paramount importance, given the construction and maintenance of buildings accounts for 40% of both energy and material consumption worldwide. In view of climate change and diminishing resources, new approaches are needed along the entire value chain of the construction industry. Developing and applying these new approaches are what the LafargeHolcim Awards promote.
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