The winners of the Africa Architecture Awards 2017 were announced at a prestigious gala awards ceremony on the rooftop of the Zeits MOCAA in Cape Town towards the end of last year. Shortlisted candidates from South Africa and other parts of the world were flown in for the event and guests in attendance included the Consul-General of France in Cape Town and the Chairman of the French South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Saint-Gobain supported and initiated the two-year awards programme with the aim of stimulating conversations about African architecture as it cements its place in a global continuum. It is the first ever Pan-African awards programme of its kind and influential international voices in architecture provided strategic input for the programme. Over 300 projects from 32 African countries were entered into the awards, which was more than double the number of entries that was initially envisaged for the inaugural edition of the awards programme.

Sir David Adaje said that the African 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 time when a lot is happening on the continent in terms of development and in terms of the architecture that’s being produced,” said David.

The Umkhumbane Museum in South Africa by Choromanski Architects was named the overall winner. The jury decided that this project best describes the ultimate objective of the Africa Architecture Awards, which is to inspire the future of African architecture. The winner received a cash prize of USD$10 000.

From the 21 shortlisted projects, the jury also chose the most deserving entries across four categories:
Critical Dialogue: Forum de Arquitectura – by CEICA, Angola
Speculative: The Territory In-between, Cape Verde – by Guinea’s Aissata Balde, Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg
Emerging Voices: The Exchange Consulate: Trading Passports for Hyper-Performative Economic Enclaves, South Africa – by Nigerian Student Ogundare Olawale Israel of the Graduate School of Architecture; University of Johannesburg
Built: Umkhumbane Museum, South Africa – by Choromanski Architects, South Africa

The awards programme also ran a public participation component earlier last year, where members of the public could vote for their favourite projects. The People’s Choice Award had over a million viewers and votes across a range of projects, stretching from kiosks to urban regeneration schemes. The Bank Head Office in Lagos, Nigeria, by James Cubitt Architects Lagos, received a Certificate of Excellence at the ceremony for being chosen as the favourite by the public.

“Although this is only the first edition of the Africa Architecture Awards, we believe we have captured an incredible moment in time for Pan-African architecture. We’ve also received an incredible response from architects working across the continent. The values and aspirations displayed in the awards have led to incredible insights about the continent and its shape-shifting ways,” commented Evan Lockhart-Barker, MD of Saint-Gobain Retail Division.

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