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An urban integration project in South America and a design for a new railway station in Germany shared top honors at the first Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction Awards.

The winners were selected from 15 finalists worldwide, after five regional competitions which saw more than 3000 submissions. Swiss-based Holcim Foundation launched the competition in 2004 with five of the world's leading technical universities. The Holcim Awards promote, future-oriented, innovative, and tangible construction projects and reinforce awareness of the importance of architecture, engineering, and construction have in achieving a more sustainable future.

Seven hundred guests from 50 countries attended the first global awards ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this year. “Sustainability has less to do with buildings and more to do with process and behavior, and must particularly inspire city planning,” said Adele Naude Santos, Dean of the School or Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and head of the awards jury. Sustainable construction is critically important to commmunites' viability, Santos added.

The second Holcim awards competition will open for entries in mid-2007, leading to regional awards in 2008 and global awards in 2009. The two grand prize Gold Award winners follow. For the Silver and Bronze award, visit www.holcimfouncation.org.

Shantytown, Caracas, Venezuela

A project to upgrade and integrate urban infrastructure in the shantytown of San Rafael-Unido in Caracas, Venezuela, sensitively and skillfully treats an array of environmental, cultural, and communal issues.

“The urban integration project not only advances local pride and resourcefulness; it is an ethically responsive and environmentally sensitive approach to minimizing extreme socioeconomic hardship,” said Kaarin Tapale a Finnish member of the jury. “ The project explores innovative ways of integrating building services and infrastructure a part of a broader aim to fittingly unify natural and constructed environments.

The winning team from Proyectos Arqui 5 CA of Caracas included Silvia Soonets, Isabel Pocaterra, Maria Ines Pocaterra, and Victor Gastier.

Railway Station, Stuttgart, Germany

The new railway station links two urban quarters that were divided, promoting social cohesion and providing new opportunities for leisure activities and interaction among all age groups. The priority is placed on inspiring a new sense of collective values on the potential of place without indulging in extravagant or nostalgic gestures.

The project places the railway station underground to recover land to create a new urban area, combining structural and landscape aspects.

“This project innovatively incorporates material, structural, and product research into a straightforward and sustainable design for reclaiming urban spaces,” according to Enrique Norten, a Mexican member of the jury. The designer was Christoph Ingenhoven of Ingenhoven, Germany, und Partner Architeckten of Düsseldorf.