Steven Holl Architects’ Malawi Library One of Eleven Winners for LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 Middle East + Africa Competition

The winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 for Middle East Africa have been announced with Steven Holl Architects' Malawi Library for the Miracle of Africa Foundation taking one of four top Acknowledgement Prizes. The eleven winning projects each illustrate how sustainability in building is rapidly gaining significance in the Middle East Africa region.  There in Nairobi, Kenya to accept the award on behalf of SHA was Senior Associate Jongseo Lee, who commented, “Thank you to the team at Steven Holl Architects for all of your hard work on the project! We are happy to represent the Malawi project and excited see these many diverse approaches to architecture and sustainability.”
Overall, a total of US$330,000 in prize money was awarded to 11 sustainable-construction projects and ideas that presented compelling, visionary solutions. The gold, silver, and bronze awards went to three different projects, while four more projects received Acknowledgement Prizes. Another four projects by students and young professionals (up to age 30) won in the Next Generation category. In the coming weeks, the winners for the Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and Latin America competitions will also be revealed.
The 66,000 sq. ft. Malawi library is organized via a section that provides maximum reflected light to the interior with optimum solar PV collection on the roofs. Natural light bouncing off curved prefabricated roof structures made of “Ductile concrete” form space like a “field within a field.” The “free plan” library has meeting rooms and archives encased in glass for humidity control. A central rain collecting pool demarks the main circulation desk and ripples through the roof geometry like a wave field in cloud-like light.
The construction will utilize local stone and bamboo and local labor. Screens of locally crafted bamboo define the building perimeter leaving a shaded arcade space all around. This library will be the initial construction of a new campus whose plan morphology has been inspired by paintings of a Malawi batik artist.
Malawi “The Warm Heart of Africa” has a population of 16.7 million. It is among the smallest countries in Africa (Lake Malawi is 1/3 its area). It is among the world’s least developed countries with the world’s lowest income per person (according to World Bank Report). The Miracle for Africa Foundation aims to serve the people of Malawi and Africa in need by expanding healthcare, education, and agricultural opportunities.