Designed by a team of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the rammed-earth structure is a prototype home for an elderly couple living in Guangming Village.

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The victorious architects were presented with the prestigious Building of the Year prize tonight (17 November) at a gala dinner in Berlin marking the final day of this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF).

The project – which also won the New and Old Completed Building sub-category on the festival’s opening day – was selected ahead of 17 others, including leisure buildings The Palestinian Museum by Heneghan Peng Architects, the US Bank Stadium by HKS, The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects and Vegetable Trellis by Cong Sinh Architects.

Explaining what makes the project so special, the Super Jury – including architects James Timberlake, Christoph Ingenhoven, Ian Ritchie, Ellen van Loon and Mun Simm Wong – praised the use of both traditional material and construction methods with new technology to create a building "that can be replicated anywhere in the world affected by seismic problems and low levels of wealth."

"It is an extraordinary project in terms of the scope of ambition shown in the addressing of profound problems facing ordinary people," they added. "It shows the translation of 'four walls and a roof' into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes something more profound. It is a demonstration of architectural relevance in the poorest communities as well as the richest."

Meanwhile, the World Landscape of the Year prize was awarded to Chinese architects and landscape designers Turenscape for their transformation of Chengtoushan Archaeological Park in China’s Lixian County. 

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