28th February 2024 4:01 am
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Vodafone and Solar Turtle up for national architecture award

If you didn’t know, South Africa is host to a number of architecture design awards, such as the AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation.

The finalists for this year’s bi-annual event were recently announced. Twenty-two projects were shortlisted out of 47 entries, spanning four categories: Sustainable Architecture, Research in Sustainability, Sustainable Products and Technology, and Sustainable Social Programmes.

In the category Sustainable Products and Technology, two entries stand out in the tech space: Solar Turtle by Ugesi Gold, and Vodafone’s Solution Innovation Centre.

Vodafone’s Site Solution Innovation Centre


Located next to Vodacom World’s main building in Midrand, it is the first 6 Star Green Star accredited building in South Africa.

“The aesthetic principle was to create a harmonious and seamless integration between the physical building and the surrounding landscape,” AfriSam said in a statement. “The building’s primary use of material is glass which is an architectural expression responsive to transparency, allowing one to see in and vice-versa.”

The building makes use of a glazed double skinned external façade for interior daylight, and has a rainwater pond and wetland inside the central open air courtyard.

Ugesi Gold’s Solar Turtle


We have written about Solar Turtle in the past, but in case you missed our coverage, it is a container-based solar power system that houses all the innards in a super secure way.

Ugesi Gold approached the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) in 2015 with a brand new way to provide schools with solar electricity – especially in areas that experience high levels of crime and vandalism.

As the morning sun rises, it triggers sensors that roll out the solar panels, engineered on a special rail system that deploys them in mere minutes. At night, the same happens in reverse where the panels roll back into the reinforced 6m shipping container for safe keeping.

“The SolarTurtle’s unique design not only addresses the problem of cumbersome community installations in remote areas but also the vandalism that’s a harsh reality of many off-grid communities,” AfriSam explained.

The awards

Famed architect Richard Stenton explained that 40% of carbon produced on the planet is through construction.

He added that what the judges are looking for is based on four criteria, and “some projects challenging the way things are done.”

He lamented the fact that some buildings are just manifestations of spreadsheet. What he means, is that they are simply built according to a certain set of specifications. But awards like AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation “challenge people to think differently” about design, functionality and the environment.

The winners of the awards will be announced in October, and all the finalists can be viewed on the AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation website.

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