Introduction by the Jury Chairman

The twelfth edition of the Premio Internazionale Architettura Sostenibile Fassa Bortolo  (International Prize for Sustainable Architecture Fassa Bortolo) attracted 83 projects from over 30 countries.

From an initial study, the members of the jury were able to make a positive overall judgment, since – even though something similar had occurred in previous editions – they noticed a further rise in the average level of submissions in terms both of architectural quality and environmental sustainability, as well as an increase in the types of buildings proposed.

The projects submitted stem from varoius geographical situations and climates, present a variety of functions as well as constructive components, in order, for example, to make optimum use of natural light or to effectively control shade.

The diversification of the projects according to the use of different elements for the construction a building’s shell highlights the influence these can have at a functional level with respect to external daily and seasonal climatic influences, as well, of course, on the aesthetic appearance of the building.

The high average quality of the contributions demanded a more complex analysis, which in many cases required a very detailed evaluation and a differentiated comparison. For this reason, both the identification of the specific features and the interaction of these with the overall architectural intention bore considerable weight in the jury’s ensuing discussions.

Among the aspects under examination, special attention was paid to the following features: urban density, the possibility of changing functions while maintaining the structure of a construction, adaptation of a building over time, self-construction, diversity in the construction of the outer walls, the revival of exposed concrete with its enormous advantage of coherence and continuity of material, its robustness and long life – all of these attributes thanks to the use of further developments in fibre-reinforced concrete and coloured cement.

Once again, it was noted that it is invariably easier to arrive at clear aesthetic solutions when dealing with small and medium-sized projects – these can be meaningful in terms of architectural intent and consistent in form right down to the details. On the other hand, in larger projects with complex structural systems, the need to accommodate many diverse functions as well as their suitability for a variety of uses, the jury noted quite often the architects’ intention to offer long life and adaptability to changing needs, without the need to substantially alter the structure.

Of course, the jury’s work operated according to the definition of a shared effective evaluation system and was not influenced by inevitable differences in personal preferences of its members.  Going beyond all of the various features that may be unique to any particular project, there is always a sequence of objective technical criteria for a proper scientific evaluation, as has been successfully established over the last two decades for “sustainable projects”.

Ultimately, the projects rewarded with gold and silver medals, as well as the works that gained special distinction in the shortlist thanks to their many singular aspects in design and implementation - of which almost half were considered worthy of an “honourable mention” - come from very different regions. They therefore reveal the variety of possible contributions to the theme of sustainability and share a high architectural quality with a characteristic of universality sufficient to be considered inspirational examples for the conceptual approach to every architect’s work. This is an aspect that needs not merely to be mentioned, but stressed, as it represents something quite exceptional.

Thomas Herzog


The Jury

Thomas Herzog – Germany (Chairman)

Louisa Hutton – Great Britain

Diébédo Francis Kéré – Burkina Faso

Roberto Di Giulio – Italy

Nicola Marzot – Italy (Secretary)