Ugandan Architect Wins Lafarge Holcim Awards

Priscilla Namwanje wins 1st prize for her project: Connective Infrastructure in Uganda

The LafargeHolcim Awards are the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design. The Next Generation category recognizes the visionary concepts and bold ideas of young professionals and students. In the competition region of Middle East Africa, the jury selected four entries to receive Next Generation prizes. The winning projects from Uganda, Jordan, Sierra Leone, and Iraq have one thing in common: an intrinsic optimism about the future.

The issue of sustainability in the construction sector is of paramount importance because the construction and maintenance of buildings accounts for 40 percent of both energy and material consumption worldwide. In view of climate change and diminishing resources, new approaches are needed along the entire value chain of the construction industry. Developing and applying these new approaches are what the LafargeHolcim Awards promote. Every three years, the competition is held in five world regions and then globally.

Our very own architect from Kampala and a graduate of Makerere University, Priscilla Namwanje earned the top prize for her project on “Connective Infrastructure” which explored inter-scale design for community integration.

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” Kampala, the principal and capital city of Uganda, suffers from territorial, social and economic fragmentation. The Muyenga-Namuwongo neighborhood, where high- and low-income communities face each other without any interaction, is a striking example of this condition. The goal of the project is to bridge these gaps through the creation of a system defined by a network of punctual and transversal interventions, allowing for people in the different parts of the neighborhood to connect. This system consists of “points”, which refer to social and public areas strategically and equally distributed across the neighborhood, connected by “links” including improved pedestrian and transport infrastructure. Colorful bridges, jogging trails, food markets, train stops, urban gardens, and cultural and recreational facilities are all design elements deployed to transform the neighborhood from a grey/cold space into a green/social district with an improved sense of place. Undeveloped land is converted into open public spaces that accommodate informal economic activities, stimulating the generation of synergies across sectors in different parts of the city and encouraging the creation of a circular economy. Local people are involved throughout the project implementation as co-creators and “curators” – together with the city authorities –of this resilient and sustainable improved community.”

The LafargeHolcim Awards jury in Middle East Africa enthusiastically applauded this project: first, because of the young author’s maturity in understanding and analyzing the physical, environmental and social challenges of the context; secondly, for the convincing methodology and ultimate solution proposed to tackle them. The project is well articulated and suggests an interesting inter-scale approach to redefine the identity of the neighborhood, introducing concepts that are easily transferable to other parts of the city or other geographical contexts. The proposal provides a fresh, optimistic vision of an empowered community through the improvement of the spatial dynamics of Kampala and the consequent strengthening of social and economic connections.

Witnessing and sharing the success of a Ugandan creative is the honor and privilege of Creative East and we hope that all of you, creatives, out there are inspired to excellence.

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