Bangkok will host the first global Holcim Awards tomorrow, in which 15 of the most environmentally friendly architectural, industrial, engineering and urban planning designs from five continents compete for the gold medal. Among the finalists are an entry from the Philippines in which concrete substrates are used to speed up the restoration of coral reefs and an urban renewal project in China that fits housing for extended families into a neighbourhood without requiring wholesale demolition or resettlement.
An entry from Japan, referred to as an "air suit", upgrades buildings to increase energy efficiency by wrapping them in a "new skin". An urban planning project from Italy - "waterpower renewal" - combines historic preservation with contemporary architecture and uses water to power "self-sustaining buildings".
One of the two entries from Canada is an industrial product in which concrete moulds are made from fabric, which allows greater flexibility. Designs for roof gardens in Argentina and an underground railway station in Germany are also in the race. Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi international airport will be showcased as an example of sustainable construction.
The awards, sponsored by Holcim, was initiated at the Earth Summit in 1992 to promote green designs and raise awareness about sustainable development among architects. The first round of the awards started in 2004. The 15 candidates competing for global awards won regional competitions. A total of US$2m (Bt76 million) will be handed out in the regional and global awards.
The panel of judges includes members of five leading academic institutions from five regions: the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tongi University of China, University of Sao Paulo and University of the Witwatersrand of South Africa.