Saint-Gobain on the just concluded Africa Architecture Awards: Interview with Evan Lockhart-Barker, the Managing Director of the Saint-Gobain Retail Business Development Initiative.
In African business, architecture is a key mover in the 21st century. Ideally, the Africa Architecture Awards(AAA) courtesy of Saint-Gobain have just ended with the announcement of winners in four categories. The event, which celebrates a first ever Pan-African architectural experience, also recognized a South African firm with a Grand Prize of $10000. The event saw over 300 entries which the judges had to sort through to come up with the ultimate winners. For our business Africa feature, Bizrika spoke to the organizers to follow up on the final verdict.
What legacy do the just concluded Africa Architecture Awards leave for the continent’s already-booming building industry?
We see this as a beginning of a legacy, to give Africa Architecture a well-deserved voice as well as global recognition. Africa is diverse and rich in architecture, and these awards seek to discover and give rise to architects across the continent. Africa is on the rise, and the Awards reward and recognize this moment in time and give a new narrative to new and established practitioners of architecture.
Yes, the industry is growing, however, the place for architects shaping cities and places require more attention. The role of architecture in Africa is yet to be fully understood and appreciated. These awards program seeks to given them that voice.
You had an overwhelming entries-307 in all. How did you sort all these to the finalists?
Essentially, the seven master jurors had to work through all 307 entries individually. The master jury then met via skype to discuss each project, and work this down to 21 shortlisted finalists across the four categories. This was an intense process, as the entries far exceeded expectations. The final 21 shortlisted winners were adjudicated in Cape Town over two days and audited by PWC auditors.
South Africa’s Chromanski Architects received the Grand Prize. What is their secret for upcoming architects?
The winning entry gave immense effort and time to understanding its community, its needs and the history of the area, and incorporated this into the now award-winning building. This process was intensely rich, and well documented both in its true form, and in its entry. Upcoming architects should seek to understand their contexts, the history associated, and then turn this knowledge into a building that the community accepts and rejoices with.
The event as a whole took two years from hatching to completion. When is the next architectural award to be held?
Africa Architecture Awards will be bi-annual, so the next is 2019.
What had the 130 VIPs who attended the ceremony in Cape Town promise for the continent’s architectural future?
There is excitement around the emerging talent, and a recognition that the educational institutes are both changing and adapting to the requirements of this generation. The diversity of projects was an eye opener, with most attendees recognizing that Africa is so rich in its context. The excitement, joy and celebration and recognition is what the future should aspire too. Africa is where its happening, and the VIP’s had a real taste of what’s to come.
Is there a documentation for entries in the 2017 Africa Architecture awards that people can access?
The website (www.africaachitectureawards.com) holds all the content of the last two years in an open accessible format. All the entries are accessible here, and will remain. The Facebook page is also a more updated site with videos, and more content added more regularly. The idea behind the awards was to create a content platform, which too enables the learning about architecture and demystifies this career and profession, making it more accessible to all.
There is always contentious debate, and certainly the rigor from the master jurors was intense and took a significant amount of days. Having looked back at what the awards aimed to achieve and the final winners, we can be assured that the winners capture a very unique moment in time for African architecture. We should celebrate them for the courage to stand out, be seen and appreciated. The final program embodies so much of what the Steering Panel aimed to achieve, this is certainly a proud moment for Africa architecture.
Thank you so much for speaking to Bizrika.