- South African architecture firm was today named winner of inaugural international design award for humanitarian innovation at IdeaFestival in Louisville, Kenturky.
MMA Architects was awarded Curry Stone Design Prize for their ingenious, yet simple design re-envisions low-income housing for a Cape Town shantytown.
MMA Architects' principals, Luyanda Mpahlwa and Mphethi Morojele will receive $100,000 prize, administered by University of Kentucky College of Design. The prize is given annually to breakthrough design solutions with 'power and potential to improve our lives and the world we live in'.
This year's prize jurors - journalist John Hockenberry; architect David Adjaye; designer Renny Ramakers; prize founder Clifford Curry; and Michael Speaks, design scholar and dean of University of Kentucky's College of Design - praised MMA's work as "absolutely brilliant" and "super-intelligent."
Jurors singled out MMA's design for a single-family home, which leveraged a modest budget - equivalent to $6,900 - by borrowing elements from indigenous mud-and-wattle building techniques. Their two-storey frame, made from timber and sandbag infill construction, is both energy efficient and requires little to no electricity or skilled labour to construct. MMA will complete 10 such houses by the end of the year.
Jurors commended MMA for creating an easily scalable prototype that can be built with unskilled labour from local community: "The designers understand that the process facilitates people making these projects."
Morojele was curator of first South African exhibit at 10th International Architecture Exhibition at 2006 Venice Biennale. He was creative director for both the South African Embassy in Berlin and the South African Embassy in Ethiopia. Mpahlwa, who was incarcerated for anti-apartheid political activities in 1980, currently serves as a technical advisor for construction of all 10 stadiums for International Federation of Association Football 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Other prize finalists, Shawn Frayne, Wes Janz, Marjetica Potrc, and Antonio Scarponi, will each receive $10,000.
Curry Stone Design Prize recognises exceptional designers based on individual merit and potential to bring their ideas to fruition. The prize is part of a $5.5 million gift to University of Kentucky College of Design from alumnus Clifford Curry and his wife H. Delight Stone.
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