2019 Winner

WAF Research Programme

The 2019 Water Research Prize has been awarded to Recycle Build Brazil by Recycle Build

Following its launch last year, the World Architecture Festival (WAF) has revealed the winner of the second Water Research Prize, supported by WAF founder partner GROHE. The 2019 prize was awarded to ‘Recycle Build Brazil’, the first phase of a wider research initiative to implement intelligent rainwater management in the city of Saõ José dos Campos, Brazil.

The Austrian team behind the winning project will receive a £10,000 prize from GROHE to support their initiative. Each entrant was asked to identify a new challenge or opportunity related to design and water, and in doing so advance an understanding of water in relation to the built environment. Recycle Build was chosen from a shortlist of 15 outstanding projects by a panel of expert judges including Henk Ovink, Dutch Ambassador for Water and Paul Flowers, Chief Design Officer at Lixil. The prize money will allow Recycle Build to create a new wing for a local school where they can implement and raise awareness of intelligent rainwater harvesting systems. The project aims to pioneer these sustainable measures to be rolled out on a wider scale in low-income housing in Brazil.

The first phase will comprise of a new wing for a school, built using predominantly recycled materials, which will harvest rainwater. The wing will also treat wastewater in an underground wetland system, with environmental benefits to the school community, providing ecologically rich outdoor play areas and helping to cool the building. The school’s location on a peninsula was the starting point for the project, and the scheme is also designed to reconnect the school’s community with the water that surrounds them, by reorganising entry points to focus the arrival experience around the water, and providing access routes to encourage children to practice water sports safely. The measures implemented in the school will be used as a pilot project for a larger and longer-term proposal for the enhancement of 400 low-income housing units in the local area.

The judges were truly impressed with the proposal and its impact on the wider community commenting that: ‘The prize money will allow a prototype to be developed but will also help to promote an idea which can be implemented in other contexts. The principles of the project could be used in respect to homes for low-income families in similar areas.

Paul Finch, Director of World Architecture Festival comments: "We are delighted with the results of this year’s prize. The winner emerged from a very strong field, showing the commitment of architects across the world to find new ways of using, conserving and recycling the incredible resource that is water. We look forward to meeting the winning team in Amsterdam this December, at World Architecture Festival 2019."

Maria Kuzma, founder of Recycle Build, comments: “We’re delighted to have been awarded with such a prize for our work on Recycle Build Brazil. We are looking forward to taking next steps to improving the collective awareness of water use as well as realising environmentally friendly and decentralised solutions to waste water issues in the urban environments."

Paul Flowers, Chief Design Officer, LIXIL: “The quality of this year’s entries was phenomenal but this specific project caught our imagination due to the educational approach. The project not only builds a school but also takes young people on a journey to understand the relevance of water as a local source and motivates them to interact mindfully with this limited resource. The concept starts as a pilot project and from there will be rolled-out to more than 400 low-cost houses in the area. This is an amazing opportunity to make a tangible difference and it reflects perfectly GROHE’s brand ethos.”


The full shortlist for the WAF Water Research Prize 2019 was:

  • New Strategies for Water Resources in Urban Africa by GLH Architects in collaboration with the Urban Dynamics Consortium, Cape Town, South Africa
  • EazyPosture by EasyPosture
  • A well WELL Project: A passive desalination device for Sampad Community Well by IMAHINASYON Architecture + Research Group, Sampad, Masbate, Philippines
  • Independent Architects
  • Embedding sustainable storm water management in Greek urban blocks: Towards an Urban Water Model for Architects by Department of Architecture, University of Patras, Athens, Greece
  • Mathew and Ghosh sustainable CREATIONcare Foundation, Bangalore, India
  • Creating water resilient schools for healthy communities SA, Cape Town, Khayelitsha by Okra landschapsarchitecten BV, Cape Town, South Africa
  • NJIL ICHKÍIL (Sanitary House), a hygienic pavilion for all and forever by PLUG architecture + TECNO SOCIAL S.A. de C.V.
  • Iodine Spa revitalisation by private initiative, Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Designing for Reclaimed Shorelines by Collin Anderson
  • Integrating Existing Water Networks With Freshwater Generation Systems For Drought-prone Agrarian Societies by School of Planning and Architecture, Bhobal; The Bartlett Development Planning Unit – UCL
  • Smart Floating Farms by Smart Floating Farms
  • Thirsty Bricks by thr34d5 (‘threads’)
  • Haze Control Facade With Recyclable Rain Water Spray Method by VMDO Architects

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