AfriSam-SAIA Awards: A focus on sustainability and innovation

by Ofentse Sefolo
AfriSam-SAIA Awards: A focus on sustainability and innovation

Recognising that achieving true sustainability and innovation requires the involvement and collaboration of all players in the value chain, AfriSam and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) will once again present the biennial AfriSam-SAIA Awards for Sustainable Architecture and Innovation this year.

Sustainable product/technology
The awards highlight the industry’s achievements in categories such as sustainable product/technology, which at the last awards went to Paul Marais for the design of Otto Cottage in Maun, Botswana. This small house is made of natural materials comprising rammed earth, timber and locally harvested reeds – demonstrating what can be achieved with natural materials in harmony with the environment, while being beautifully seductive.

Using forms similar to those in the area, the project minimised its construction impact by using local and natural materials, and also reduced its ecological impact by being energy-, water- and waste-neutral. It is not connected to either the local electricity grid or the municipal water and sewerage. The implementation of green technologies was done by transferring knowledge from the architect to the local team of builders.

Sustainable social programmes
In the category for sustainable social programmes, an award went to the Build Collective NPO in conjunction with the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, for the Bridging Mzamba project in Mbizana, Eastern Cape. This community-driven project addressed the urgent need for a safe crossing of the Mzamba River and included the design and implementation of a 140-metre suspension bridge.

The project adopted an intensively collective approach to the production of knowledge, cultural exchange, skills development and responsibility between users, students and experts. Its design and technology prioritised a low environmental impact and the use of locally available resources. The Mzamba Bridge now connects residents over a large catchment area to educational facilities, health care, jobs and general food supply.

The Malawi School in Mchinji, Malawi.


Architecture for a Change was also recognised in the category for sustainable social programmes for its work on the Malawi School in Mchinji, Malawi. The design explored the concept of a school as a large covered canopy, offering shade as well as open, well-lit and ventilated spaces. Shade netting, lightweight steel, local masonry and corrugated iron form the architectural language of the building. Local masonry, handmade by local women on site, was used to create vertical louvres on the exterior of the classrooms – as shading devices and structural support for the roof.

“The AfriSam-SAIA Awards are a natural extension of the AfriSam brand and reflect our commitment to sustaining the environment through responsible manufacturing processes,” says Richard Tomes, sales and marketing executive at AfriSam. “By making responsible decisions and employing sustainable business practices today, the industry is able to create a future of possibilities for our children and their children.”

Tel: 011 670 5893
Website: www.afrisam.com

Main image – Otto Cottage in Maun, Botswana.

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