The school building project for Hopley run by Engineers without Borders was honoured with special recognition on 15 January 2021 at the Balthasar Neumann Award. Presentation of this year’s award sponsored by the Association of German Master Builders, Architects and Engineers (BDB) and the German architecture journal DBZ took place at BAU Online 2021.
The project concerns the construction of a new school building in Hopley, a shanty town on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe. The aid organization Engineers without Borders is working together with local workers to build a school campus for around 800 pupils. Every year since 2016, a new section of the building complex has been constructed with bricks during the dry season. More than a half of the complex has been completed, and lessons are already underway in ten classrooms. The entire project is financed with donations and has been made possible thanks to the volunteer work of numerous contributors.
The jury chaired by Werner Sobek gave its reason for this special recognition: “The compact but superb school building impresses with its excellent design using simple materials and construction methods. […] The jury especially acknowledges the voluntary work of the young architects and engineers who have realized the building as the result of a diploma thesis in self-construction together with residents.”
After the award ceremony, Kristina Egbers, the architect leading the project, said “The Balthasar Neumann Award is an internationally renowned architecture award. We are therefore delighted at being given this recognition and the opportunity that goes with it to present our project to the public.”
Over the last year, the project was honoured with a place on the shortlist for the DAM Award in for architecture, in the category for international projects, as well as with the Iconic Award from the German Design Council. Back in 2019, the project received a special award for social commitment at the presentation of the German Brick Award.
Engineers without Borders is a recognized as a charitable private aid organization with the aim of improving the living conditions of suffering and underprivileged people long-term. The organization is funded primarily by donations and membership fees and has around 3 800 members as well as volunteer-run regional groups in 30 German towns and cities.