The Kaira Looro Competition’s winning projects



Emergencies strike suddenly and without warning. They level cities to the ground and tear down buildings as though they were made of sand. In almost no time at all everything is destroyed and all that remains is the realisation that you have to get up and start all over again from scratch. In recent years the occurrence of deluges and flooding have increased dramatically. Analogously, conflicts and financial crises persist and lead to serious humanitarian emergencies which put the lives of millions of people at risk. Resolving an emergency of any kind means re-establishing peace and security.  
The ”Emergency Operations Centre” is the 4th of the Kaira Looro international architecture competition. This is a Non Profit competition with the aim of raising awareness among the international community about emergencies in developing countries, and support humanitarian projects in Africa. 
The past editions were dedicated to the design of a Sacred Architecture (2017), a Cultural Centre (2018) and a Peace Pavilion (2019). This year the competition aims to develop a theme of global interest: emergency, such as Tsunami, Wars, Flooding etcetera. The theme of the 2020’s competition was to design an Operational Centre for the management of humanitarian emergencies in Sub-Saharan Africa, an EOC. The architecture is intended to house and facilitate the mainly activities which international organisations and local authorities must implement in order to solve emergencies and provide aid to affected communities. The spaces should be versatile and multifunctional, capable of adapting to specific needs and to the type and context of the emergency.  
The competition has been organized by the Balouo Salo No Profit Organization, engaged in Africa to develops humanitarian projects, with the collaboration of structures of international importance and relevant collaborations such us Kengo Kuma & Associates, SBGA | Blengini Ghirardelli, MMA Design Studio, international NGOs, medias and institutions.  The winners were chosen by an international jury made up of: Kengo Kuma (Kengo Kuma & Associates, Japan), Agostino Ghirardelli (SBGA | Blengini Ghirardelli, Italy), Lígia Nunes (Architecture Sans Frontières International, Spain), Mphethi Morojele (MMA Design Studio, South Africa), Walter Baricchi (CNAPPC), Philippa Nyakato Tumubweinee (University of Cape Town, South Africa), Mantey Jectey-Nyarko (Kwame Nkrumah University, Ghana), and a scientific committee made up of Raoul Vecchio (Balouo Salo), Sebastiano D’Urso (University of Catania) and Moussa Soaune (Senegalese institution). 
On 9th May 2020 the jury declared the 30 winning projects, including 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, 2 honourable mentions chosen by Kengo Kuma and by the Balouo Salo Organisation, 5 special mentions, and 20 finalists. 
The winning project will receive a cash prize (€ 5000) and an internship at the prestigious Kengo Kuma & Associates in Tokyo, Japan. The second team will receive 1.500€ and an internship at the SBGA in Milan, Italy and the third team 1.000€  and an internship at Mopheti Morojele Design in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Furthermore, all of the awarded projects will be published in the competition’s official book, exhibited at events, and published in articles and magazines 
The design goal was to create an EOC that manages humanitarian crises to facilitate activities that provide aid. Given that an emergency is an unforeseeable event, the structure must adhere to certain construction requirements, meaning that it must be easily and quickly built using natural materials that are easy to put together, or using materials that are present at the site of the disaster and which can be then reused to serve a new architectural function, or yet still, as in the case of a semi-permanent structure, can be converted into something useful for reconstruction when the emergency is over. The EOC will primarily have to fulfil the following functions, with corresponding rooms, arranged according to the participant’s concept: emergency’s management, assistance, reception, monitoring, storage room and logistics.
The structure should have the following characteristics: maximum surface area of 500 square meters in the floor plan, only ground floor, have three main areas dedicated to management, assistance and logistics, be easily mounted and dismantled or be conceived as a semi-permanent structure to be repurposed with a different intended use when the emergency is over, be inexpensive and sustainable in its use and functions, favour the use of natural materials available in the surrounding areas and/or the use of leftover materials from the emergency itself.

The winner of the competition is a Polish team composed by Aleksandra Wroble, Agnieszka Witaszek and Kamil Owczarek. The Second place is won by a team comes from Philippines composed by Clarisse Gono, Tsunxian Lee, Nathan Mehl and Katherine Huang. The third prize come from Italy and is designed by Michele Baldini and Marco Barzanti. Two honourable mentions were awarded, one nominated by Kengo Kuma for the Colombian team composed of Manuela Molina, María Camila Joaqui, María Camila Martínez and Silvia Valentina Ruiz and the other honourable mention is selected by the Balouo Salo organization and comes from Costa Rica, the team is composed by Ana Carolina Vargas González, Claudia Salinas Arriagada, Gilberto Valverde Arias and David Cubero Fernández. 5 special mentions were assigned to teams from Italy, Egypt, Indonesia and Romania. Finally, 20 finalists for teams from Italy, Philippines, Bulgaria, Egypt, China, Tunisia, Brazil, Belgium, Algeria, Germany, Spain, Mexico and Poland. It is possible see all awarded projet in the official website of the competition. 

The previous Kaira Looro editions were won by the young architects Changze Cai from China (2019’s Edition);  Giacomo Spanio, Sergiu Cernea, Paolo Reali and Nicola Puppin from Italy (2018’s Edition) and Natalia Serafin, Paulina Gorecka and Anita Wisniewska from Poland (2017’s Edition)  
In addition to sensitize the international community to the themes of development and emergency, the idea of the competition is to involve young designers from all over the world in a responsible design towards society and environment and at the same time giving them an opportunity for professional growth and international visibility in order to facilitate their insertion into the professional sphere, through the organization of the internship prizes in international architectural studios.
As provided by the competition’s tradition, this year too, all proceeds derived from participants’ enrolment fees, will be donated to the Balouo Salo humanitarian organisation, which works to find solutions to improve life’s conditions in Africa community and to solve social and environmental emergencies. In particular, these funds will be used to complete the construction of an Educational Cultural Center in Tanaff, Senegal, with the aims to protect locals’ traditions and improve education system. See more in the website
The competition had an exceptional turnout with over 455 projects submitted from all around the world. The projects showed great sensibility towards the theme of the competition and towards the geographical context of the project. 
All awarded projects are published on the official website and will be transmitted to the sector’s international media. Furthermore, a special book will be published entitled “Kaira Looro Architecture Competition – Emergency Operation Centre” which will feature all of the winning projects. Proceeds from the sale of this book will also be donated to humanitarian causes.