‘A’A’ Presents LafargeHolcim Awards Prize Winners | Next Generation

2-3 Chronique d’un prix Chronicle of a Prize 30 years old really is very young for an architect. But there might be a sense of revelling in what Marilyne Andersen, Head of the Academic Committee of the LafargeHolcim Foundation, refers to on my provocation about that tender age as ‘positive naivety’. “These are mostly students or recent graduates,” she tells me, “who might not have to worry about the affordability of their ideas, or how realistic they are. So there is a freshness to their ideas and approaches which can be eye-opening.” As a part of the LafargeHolcim Awards, the Next Generation prizes for visions and bold ideas attempt to acknowledge the richness of research and design in sustainable architecture in its full, global diversity but they also act as a hugely valuable gauge for shifts in thinking and concerns and a measure of difference and local discourse. What, I wondered, did the latest submissions reveal about those shifting concerns and where the next generation might see change coming from? “We really can see changes. There is a huge difference across the five continents,” Andersen replies. “In Europe/ Eurasia and North America we have gone from a lot of thinking about cities and urban transformation to ideas about prefabrication, resources and emissions, to where we are now which is very much about the reuse of materials. You might say there has been a ‘zooming-in’ process.” — Edwin Heathcote In Latin America, she has seen a shift from “concerns about basic resources, water, waste management and in particular the favelas” to what she slightly poetically describes as “recovering the qualities of the planet” expressed through land use and the restoration of existing structures rather than, necessarily, the construction of new architectures. In Africa and the Middle East, preoccupations appear to have shifted, she says “from issues about the rural economy, education and migration” to what she refers to as “cultural anchorage,” local action and thinking about the specific cultural conditions of place. It is sustainability understood, perhaps, as something much wider than climate and energy use, something which embraces ways of being in the landscape, the street and the city. “There has been a move away,” she says, “from the global to the local. Young people are much more engaged in politics than they were ten years ago, with Black Lives Matter, awareness of women’s rights, ideas about decolonisation…” It is noticeable from the entries, Andersen suggests, that those areas where the values of these awards have been embedded in the curriculum are responsible for the richest contributions. Latin America, where architecture schools work with these programmes and aims, have seen the most diverse and compelling entries, says Andersen.