The topical themes of the environment and sustainability, which architecture reflects throughout the various phases of building, form an important part of high-level design competitions. One such, the by now well-established International Award “Sustainable Architecture”, affords a cross-section of projects at the planning stage or already put into practice, within a comparative “supra-national” framework. This year at its fourth edition, the award is promoted by Fassa Bortolo, leader in the building materials sector, in collaboration with the Ferrara Architecture Faculty. The aim is to stimulate design innovation in the context of bio-architecture; entries are assessed for architectural quality and sustainability. The competition falls into two sections: “works realised” and “degree theses”. For the 2007 edition the first prize for realised works was won by the design team of Diverserighestudio (architects Gheduzzi, Rimondi and Sorichetti) for their renovation of a farm house at Altedo di Malalbergo (Bologna, Italy), now absorbed in the built-up area, and their additional incorporation of a new multi-purpose hall. The project combines respect for the typical rural architecture of the Po valley plain, and relevance to the urban context with its services and commercial functions. The jury commended the uncompromising consistency with which the plans tackle problems of composition and issues of climate and above all the appropriateness of the response to environmental and ecological requirements. Avoiding the trap of would-be imitation, the project is at once an update and a contemporary re-interpretation. The multi-purpose hall consists of a regular, recognisable volume, with a glass front jutting towards the main thoroughfare. The portico features, access routes and communal areas have in turn been re-interpreted, using glass walls protected from solar radiation to create an optimum micro-climate. Natural larch for the outside cladding, industrial wood for the insides and employment of wood-fibre panelling show an appreciation for the quality and durability of materials. Two special mentions were given: to the Spanish practice Carabajal Solinas Verd Arquitectos for their extension to the Town Hall of Vicar (Almeria, Spain), and to Alessandro Contavalli and Stefania Mirandola for the Ponticelli School at Imola (Bologna, Italy). Both showed skill in combining advanced technology with architectural solutions and choice of materials that were functional, non-invasive, and compatible with the natural setting and pre-existing buildings.