What are the criteria for designing an award-winning house? WALLS & ROOFS spoke to some of the judges from last year’s PIA Awards to find out.

What makes an award-winning house? Is it originality, innovation, form, function, sustainability, context, or all together? WALLS & ROOFS found out what a few of the adjudicators of last year’s PIA Awards think.

Dr Arthur Barker, architect and senior lecturer at the Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria, considers context to be the most important aspect in designing or awarding any piece of architecture.

“I believe that architecture in South Africa that addresses the following four aspects will be successful or highly awarded:
•    First of all architectural identity – how can we make architecture that creates new local identity rather than slavishly following international trends?
•    Second is the way in which we respond to spatial legacy of apartheid planning – how do we make good urban space that works for everyone?
•    Thirdly how do we make new architecture that respects history but understands the needs of today?
•    Lastly, how do we ethically make comfortable environments and use materials efficiently to limit resource impacts on our planet?

“Materials and products should be selected to reduce costs and impacts on our environment. We also need to create spaces that have meaning and that affect us positively on a daily basis,” Barker states.
Another one of the judges, Dr Jacques Laubscher, associate professor at the Department of Architecture at the Tshwane University of Technology, points out that the primary function of architecture is to provide shelter for humans and their possessions. When a building does more than this, it enters the Vitruvian triad of commodity, firmness and delight.

“Today’s clients are more knowledgeable about stylistic aspects, but not about architecture as such,” he says. “When I evaluate a project, I look for a resource-efficient design that is innovative, contextually appropriate and well executed. An award-winning project should display the designer’s insight in the complex layering of site, programme and built artefact. But ultimately, in the words of my eight-year-old son: ‘The occupants should love their building’.”

Full thanks and acknowledgment are given to the Pretoria Institute for Architects and the American Institute for Architects for the information and photos given.