Dorte Mandrup, Anupama Kundoo, Martin Rauch, Gilles Clément, and architecture studio Yalin are the recipients of the 2022 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. The award organizer, the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine museum, has recognized the five architects and designers for their commitment and work to support more sustainable, more ethical architecture, as well as for their research, experimentation, and sharing of knowledge and awareness for the benefit of our planet and quality of life.
Established in 2006 by architect Jana Revedin and organized under the high patronage of UNESCO, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture has been awarded over the last fifteen years (beginning in 2007) to over seventy architects from around the world, including Namibia, Japan, Jordan, Ecuador, France, Thailand, Malaysia, Iceland, and many other countries.
“Territory: threat or opportunity?” was the theme of this year’s award – a year of climate, social, and economic crises, during which architecture has been called upon to do its part. Architects have been obliged to envision appropriate housing models that respect the many historical, environmental, territorial, and cultural factors at play anywhere in the world.
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Born in Denmark in 1961, architect Dorte Mandrup has established her reputation with her projects in extreme climates, such as Greenland, and her environmentally conscious approach to architecture. This has seen her frequently designing with low-environmental impact and low-polluting materials, such as wood and straw. From various perspectives, her projects underscore the irreplaceability of nature and the need to protect it. “But the fact that something is irreplaceable doesn’t mean it’s untouchable,” explains Mandrup. “It’s nevertheless important that every architectural project is designed and built for its specific region, highlighting and enhancing the landscape. The first step in protecting a place is to understand what’s at stake. The aim of an architect, therefore, must always be to give back more than we take.” One of her most iconic designs is The Whale in Andenes, Norway.
Indian architect Anupama Kundoo was born in 1967 and received her training in both Mumbai and Berlin. She’s made the battle for “right-tech” – as opposed to hi-tech – the hallmark of her design approach. According to her, development and sustainability are synonymous. She therefore rejects the notion that access to innovation and technology should just be for the select few. She believes that by making the most of its resources, every region should be able to provide what’s necessary for the life of its population. As a result, the idea of a threat being inherent to a particular place is the result of a distortion of the relationship of co-existence between humans and nature. Certain kinds of contemporary buildings, and the unconscious and uncontrolled land use “not only threatens human survival but the survival of all species,” she says. A good example of her approach to architecture is Creativity Co-housing in Auroville, India.
Martin Rauch’s path to architecture and construction started from a very distant place: clay and ceramics. Volunteer work in Africa exposed him to fascinating peoples and the beauty of their mud huts, and it marked a turning point in his love of traditional materials and building techniques. Upon returning home to Austria, he began studying the terracotta architecture of Europe. This resulted in him saving many ancient building methods from being lost. A devoted art lover and staunch environmentalist, he began extracting and working with clay to re-establish harmony between landscape and the built environment. So, is Rauch a craftsman or an architect? “Sometimes even I find it hard to explain what I do,” Rauch admits. “I feel like a craftsman, but a craftsman must also be a builder. At the start of my career, this dual role of craftsman and artist gave me enormous creative freedom in designing large buildings.” The rules have changed over the years, making some steps much more complicated than they were, but it still takes courageous professionals to create innovative buildings in step with the needs of the present day. There are numerous experimental projects that use natural materials and unusual shapes. And then there’s Rauch House in Schlins, Austria.
Gilles Clément is an important voice in the current global environmental debate. An engineer, botanist, and landscape architect, he has a background of working with cities and rural areas for their “ecological and social rebirth.” Clément has influenced the decisions of policymakers, other architects, and landscape architects. And his words have gained further resonance through his books. The Planetary Garden and Manifesto of the Third Landscape are just two examples. Le Salon des Berces, on the other hand, was inspired by his home in the Creuse department of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, where he has created a home garden. But Gilles Clément is also a tireless teacher, convinced of the importance of the virtuous circle that forms between teachers and students: “Teaching is learning,” he says. “I believe there are three sources of learning: the garden, because we discover something new in it every day; travel, because we fully understand our place in life when we return home; and students, because they ask the questions we’re not expecting. And these questions force us to find answers.” Among his most important projects is Garden of the Third Landscape, a garden in Saint-Nazaire, France, built on the site of a former military base.
In 2011, architect Ömer Selçuk Baz and urban planner Okan Bal set up their practice, naming it with the Turkish word yalin, meaning humility or simplicity. Their mission is to fight Turkey’s “urban crimes,” to counter the almost total lack of regulation and the destruction of a priceless artistic and cultural heritage in the name of what they call “show window architecture.” Yalin’s major projects have therefore chiefly involved the rebuilding of natural and cultural sites, with their connection to projects continuing even after the work has ended, their approach focusing on geography, genius loci, and human activity. One of the studio’s most ambitious projects is the Cappadocia Regional Museum: “The museum occupies the site of an old quarry inside a gigantic rock wall, just like the homes of the people who lived there thousands of years ago,” they explain. “The idea was to transform the tunnels carved into the rock into a museum. For this project, we reinvented ancient construction techniques through a contemporary eye and trained the bricklayers, artisans, and gardeners of today and tomorrow.”
The Global Award for Sustainable Architecture awards ceremony will take place on October 13. Marie-Hélène Contal, the director of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine museum will be attending. Then, from October 14, 2022, through January 30, 2023, an exhibition will be dedicated to the five ambassadors of sustainability.
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