By Prosper Makene
The inaugural Africa Architecture Awards, founded by Saint-Gobain, attracted an unprecedented number of entries for an architecture awards programme in its first edition.
The statement revealed to Azania Post said that more than 500 projects registered to enter the awards before the closing date of 14 July 2017, and a total of 307 projects from across the continent, situated in 32 African countries, completed the registration process and qualified to enter.
All 307 projects have since been published on www.AfricaArchitectureAwards.com, with the awards website now acting as a repository of thought-provoking projects spanning the African continent.
As a yardstick to gauge the depth and breadth of contemporary African architectural practice, the site alone is an invaluable resource, visited by over 40 000 unique users from mid-May to end-July 2017, with 800-1000 unique visitors accessing the site per day.
Thus far, over 450 African broadcast, print and digital publications have given published attention to the awards. More than 100 000 people have participated in the public voting component of the Africa Architecture Awards People’s Choice award. Only one vote per person per day is permitted and voting closes on 18 August 2017.
Although still in its infancy, this ambitious awards programme has already become one of the most successful architecture awards programmes on the continent – and it hasn’t yet announced its winners. It is also the only one of its kind due to its Pan-African scope; it being the first to invite entries from across Africa, for any project that pertains to Africa, regardless of where the architectural firm is located.
“The Africa Architecture Awards,” explains Evan Lockhart-Barker, the Managing Director of the Saint-Gobain Retail Business Development Initiative, “have been established to highlight the continent’s innovative and collaborative style of solving problems – architectural or otherwise.
Saint-Gobain has engaged with some of the best minds in the field to establish this programme, so that the awards are relevant, contextual and progressive. We are more than thrilled to see the response that the competition has received to date.”
On 27 July 2017, the awards announced a shortlist of 20 projects, which now stand in line for a trophy in either the Built, Speculative, Emerging Voices or Critical Dialogue category; or, the overall Grand Prix award of USD$10 000. There were 139 entries in the Built category, 91 entries in the Speculative category, 44 entries in the Emerging Voices category and 34 entries in the Critical Dialogue category.
The shortlist was chosen by a Master Jury comprising a Pan-African panel of architects and industry experts, including: Anna Abengowe (Nigeria), Guillaume Koffi (Côte d’Ivoire), Professor Edgar Pieterse (South Africa), Patti Anahory (Cape Verde), Professor Mark Olweny (Uganda), Tanzeem Razak (South Africa), and Phill Mashabane (South Africa).