The 14 Buildings Shortlisted For an AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Architecture Award

African School for Excellence

COMPILED BY Malibongwe Tyilo

Qualifying entries have been announced for the 2015/2016 AfriSam-SAIA Awards for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation.

This bi-annual award is dedicated to acknowledging best practice and innovation in sustainable architecture. The projects are chosen across four categories: Sustainable Architecture, Research in Sustainability, Sustainable Products and Technology and Sustainable Social Programmes. Below are the 14 buildings shortlisted in the Sustainable Architecture category.



The school’s education model rotates learners between spaces for instructional learning, peer-based learning and self-study. With this in mind, the school is designed into a series of U-shaped classroom clusters, at the centre of which is the hall that is imagined as a courtyard with a lightweight roof hovering above.

2. BARN HOUSE by Strey Architects

Barn House

The Barn House is a personal home project, with the owner operating as architect and contractor. The home displays an impressive range of green technologies while playing with forms, materials, building methods, and passive heating and cooling. Although initial building costs were high, the reduced use of energy over its lifetime, as well as the impact of recycling will keep the running and maintenance cost of the building low.

3. BMW HEAD OFFICE BUILDING by Boogertman+Partners Architects

BMW Head Office Building

Originally designed and built by legendary South African architect Hans Hallen back in 1984 and 1985, BMW’s iconic head office in Midrand, Johannesburg has been refurbished by architects Boogertman+Partners, resulting in it being awarded a 5 star ‘As Built’ rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

4. DEA BUILDING by Boogertman+Partners Architects


Apart from its striking design, the Department of Environmental Affairs in the City of Tshwane is home to a whole range of sustainable technologies, from rainwater and greywater harvesting and recycling, to double glazed windows, evaporative cooling methods for air conditioning, photovoltaic cells and solar hot water heating on the rooftop. 

5. GORGEOUS GREEN HOUSE by Sagnelli Associate Architects

Gorgeous Green House

Rooftop gardens, green walls, evaporative cooling ponds, water harvesting, storage and recycling and solar energy; these are just a few of this home’s many sustainable features. It also features different sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, from bamboo, recycled carpets and kitchen countertops to an integrated eco-system of bee hives, kitchens, a veggie garden and a natural swimming pool with fish, all of which attract over 40 species of birds, insects and wildlife to the property. 


Government House Pietermaritzburg

This is a heritage restoration project of the Government House. Specialised craftsmen from around the country worked meticulously to restore this 1845 Edwardian-style house with special detail and consideration taken into making sure that the original materials and aesthetics of the building were maintained and restored to their former glory. 

7. ICAT ECO FACTORY by Earthworld Architects


The ICAT ECO FACTORY’s design was greatly influenced by seasonal changes in lighting and climate, meaning every facade of the building would have to respond accordingly. It maintains a balance of natural and artificial light, through minimising the latter. Its southern courtyard serves as a social activation space while its northern facade allows for lighting into the offices and warehouse, as well as heating during winter months. From the roof, much of the building’s water and energy requirements are provided for through rainwater and solar energy harvesting. 

8. LIV VILLAGE by Designworkshop:SA


LIV Village places orphaned and vulnerable children into a family environment with a trained foster mother. The space accommodates a community clinic, open-air hall, educational facilities, as well as accommodation with nurturing foster mothers. It also provides production and training facilities that extend the integration into the local economic and social networks to provide skills and employment that aim to provide increasingly independent economic sustainability for the village. 

9. MABONENG PRECINCT by Daffonchio & Associate Architects

Maboneng Precinct

The Maboneng Precinct is one of Johannesburg’s best known and possibly most successful attempts at urban regeneration. Its buildings are home to art galleries and a range of shops, restaurants and coffee bars that are fueling an inner-city lifestyle. 

10. NEW BUSINESS SCHOOL FOR NMMU by The Workplace Architects with GAPP

New Business School

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Business School uses a minimalist simple brick while the interior and courtyard are spatially more diverse, with a variety of volumes and a multitude of light sources. The finishing of the building also reflects this design intention – the exterior is of a single face-brick with flush jointed, tinted mortar to match the brick, while the interior is more varied with a range of lighter neutral colours and textures. 

11. OUDEBOSCH CAMP KOGELBERG by Architecture Coop

Oudebosch Camp Kogelberg

Tucked away in the mountains above Betty’s Bay, within a protected wilderness area in the Kogelberg Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this biodiversity hotspot is of high conservation value. Mountain peaks cradle streams, rivers, seeps and wetlands that create habitats for the 1 650 fynbos species. The camp’s simple, structured shelters reflect the natural qualities of the landscape. The palette of natural, local, renewable, low-embodied energy, non-toxic materials and components develops the low impact sustainable qualities of the project. 


Outreach Foundation

One of the first new buildings in Hillbrow since the ’70s, this building houses three primary functions: a computer centre, dance studio, and offices and meeting areas. Its simple form is entirely governed by the programmes that it houses. It is elevated almost two stories above the street level, which creates strategies around public place-making. 

13. WITS RURAL FACILITY by Kate Otten Architects


Nestled in between the existing vegetation of the landscape, the buildings are located on the Wits Rural Campus, a 350-hectare, environmentally protected and ecologically sensitive area of indigenous bush bordering the Kruger National Park. Originally used for botanical and animal research, it has now developed into a satellite campus for the university to use as a base for rural research and training programmes, acting as a rural knowledge hub. 

14. WWF SA BRAAMFONTEIN by Alive Architecture

WWF SA Braamfontein

A restorative project in a heritage building that dated back to 1905, the WWF SA building in Braamfontein plays host to a long list of green technologies: a wastewater treatment plant, water harvesting, natural ventilation to all office areas with additional forced air changes (no air-conditioning), double-glazed fenestration, automated blinds and LED lighting linked to a building management system, and a solar geyser for the shower and kitchen areas.

To view more qualifying entries from other categories and for more information, visit