At a meeting at Roden Crater in Dornbirn, March 2010 and Arizona (USA) in February, an international jury selected this year’s winners of the Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment. The Austrian lighting group’s award, which carries a purse of €140,000, honours sustainable solutions in architecture and engineering that make pioneering contributions to the future quality of life. In the ‘Built Environment’ category, the jury chose to commend the Brazilian architectural practice Triptyque for its ecologically and architecturally pioneering office building and gallery ‘HARMONIA 57’.

The award in the ‘Research and Initiative’ category went to the non-profit design studio Terreform ONE, founded by Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova, for the research project ‘New York City Resource and Mobility’, a visionary master plan that maps out a sustainable future for New York City.

“It is both extremely important and a great pleasure for us to be able to present our award for sustainability and humanity once again this year. Ensuring the efficient use of resources and arriving at pioneering solutions in the fields of architecture and urban planning are challenges that will accompany us for many years to come. I am delighted that, in their selection this year, the jury have sent out a clear signal that smaller projects which adopt innovative approaches can also prove an important source of inspiration. We need to look beyond our current needs and see the challenges of the future in their full context, as is reflected in the winning project in the ‘Research and Innovation’ category,” explained Zumtobel group CEO and jury member Andreas Ludwig.

2010 Winner in the category ‘Built Environment’ was ‘HARMONIA 57’ by Triptyque. An intelligent, green façade based on organic concrete and irrigated by a spray mist system installed on the outside of the building. The system, that both collects rainwater and enhances the indoor climate, is the key design feature of ‘HARMONIA 57’. Designed in line with a pioneering sustainable approach, this multifaceted office building was created by the French-Brazilian architecture practice Triptyque. Thanks to its terraced design, the building located in a bohemian suburb in the west of São Paulo can also function as an open air gallery.

“The architects of this building have implemented a whole raft of innovative approaches. It represents a very intelligent idea that gets by on simple means and a low budget. It also illustrates how ecological design can be fun, while at the same time taking contemporary architectural design standards on board. For its densely built setting, this building is a breath of fresh air, because when the façades are completely greened over with vegetation it will be virtually invisible,” said the jury in its statement.

2010 Winner in the category ‘Research and Initiative’ was New York Resource and Mobility by Terreform ONE. A visionary research project that plans a sustainable future for New York City, drawn up under the auspices of the non-profit design group Terreform ONE founded by Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova, was selected by the jury as the winner of the ‘Research and Initiative’ category. Terreform ONE is an interdisciplinary research group comprising scientists, artists, architects and students. Basing their work on a scenario of rapid population growth, massive climate change and steadily rising sea levels, Terreform ONE has created a visionary model of a fully autonomous and self-sufficient city of the future. Key areas of investigation included infrastructure, resources, energy, waste recycling, remaking existing neighbourhoods and rethinking every aspect of urban planning.

For the jury it was the integrated approach that was decisive. “This project is a rich source of interesting ideas of real substance. The research team is not afraid to think in whole new directions and presents a range of visionary potential approaches that are already acting as catalysts in the urban development debate.”

The jury’s selection criteria

The two award-winning projects were selected from a worldwide total of 40, proposed by a global network of experts. Determining the laureates in the two categories was the task of an independent, interdisciplinary and international seven person jury comprising four leading architects from different parts of the world, an engineer, a representative of the UN, and the CEO of the Zumtobel Group. As they assessed the nominations, the jury paid particular attention to the interplay of sustainable strategies, combined with the aesthetics and quality of the architectural design, and the ethical, social and economic added value represented by the projects.

Commendations for eight additional projects

As well as selecting the two prizewinners, the jury also awarded honourable mentions to four projects in each of the two categories. In the category ‘Built Environment’ these include:

  • A New York High Line design and redevelopment project (James Corner Field Operations)
  • A Centre for Women in Burkina Faso (FARE Studio)
    The newly developed Elm Park suburb of Dublin (Buchholz McEvoy Architects)
  • The new California Academy of Science building in San Francisco (Renzo Piano Building Workshop).

In the category ‘Research and Initiative’, honourable mentions went to:

  • A rural student project at the University of Talca in Chile
  • A cross-border exchange programme and symposium ‘Political Equator II’ (Estudio Teddy Cruz) involving the USA and Mexico
  • A highly poetical idea for an office and studio building in Columbia (Husos Architects)
  • A master plan for a wind park in the North Sea (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) that aims to meet the entire electricity needs of the Netherlands.

“We think the jury has made excellent choices,” said Kristin Feireiss and Hans-Jürgen Commerell of Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin, who were again commissioned by the Zumtobel Group to act as the award’s curators. “The very diversity of the projects that received commendations shows just how many pioneering avenues of approach the fields of architecture, landscape planning and research can generate when it comes to contributing to a liveable, sustainable future.”

He continued, “We need to address all aspects of energy supplies and resources; social structures; user habits; and urban planning contexts, with the main challenge being to come up with convincing architectural answers. And in this respect, the 2010 Zumtobel Group Award signposts some outstanding and thought-provoking ideas.”

The 2010 Zumtobel Group Awards will be presented to the winners at a gala evening in Bregenz, Austria, on Thursday, 9th September 2010. Invitations to the accompanying press conference in the morning of 9th September will be sent out in due course.

About the Award

Every two years, the Austrian lighting company Zumtobel Group joins forces with Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin to invite entries for the Zumtobel Group Award. The award is designed to honour outstanding sustainable solutions and approaches in architecture and engineering that make a pioneering contribution to a more liveable future. In the ‘Built Environment’ category the award is presented for exceptional architectural, engineering or urban design projects realized within the last two years.

In the category ‘Research and Initiative’ the award is given to an innovative current research project or social initiative developed by NGOs, universities, or independent groups and individuals. The accompanying purse is intended to foster the progress of ongoing initiatives. 2010 marks the second time the Zumtobel Group Award has been presented, following the initial awards in 2007.

Award ceremony and press conference

The presentation of the 2010 Zumtobel Group Awards will take place at the Festival House (Festspielhaus) in Bregenz, Austria, on Thursday, 9th September 2010. On the morning of the same day there will be a press conference with the award winners. A catalogue with detailed descriptions of the award-winning and commended projects will be published to coincide with the ceremony.


Zumtobel Group

Curator and organiser

Aedes Architecture Forum

Award categories

Built Environment: €80,000

Research and Initiative: €60,000


  • Stefan Behnisch, (Chairman) Architect / Behnisch Architects, Stuttgart (Germany)
  • Yung Ho Chang, Architect, Head of Department of Architecture / Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (USA)
  • Brian Cody, Engineer, Chair of the Institute for Buildings and Energy, Graz University of Technology (Austria)
  • Colin Fournier, Architect / University College London (UK)
  • Andreas Ludwig, CEO Zumtobel Group, Dornbirn (Austria)
  • Enrique Norten, Architect / TEN Arquitectos, Mexico City and New York (Mexico, USA)
  • Anna Tibaijuka, General and Executive Director / UN Habitat, Nairobi (Kenya)

Selection process and documentation

The 40 projects presented for the jury’s consideration were chosen by independent experts acting in conjunction with Aedes. As in the case of the 2007 Zumtobel Group Award 2007, the 40 projects nominated for the 2010 Zumtobel Group Award are described in a book entitled Architecture of Change 2: Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment, Gestalten Verlag, Berlin 2009
Publishers: Kristin Feireiss and Lukas Feireiss, ISBN 978-3-89955-263-8.