Ghana Innovation Farm: the winners of the 3rd Manni Group Design Award

YACademy & competitions

Ghana Innovation Farm: the winners of the 3rd Manni Group Design Award

17 Mar, 2022

Manni Group announces the winners of the Manni Group Design Award 2021, which rewards the latest trends in dry construction at the service of the cold chain in Africa. Three young teams on the podium selected by the starchitects of the international Jury.

The global food crisis is one of the most urgent issues for humanity: the Manni Group Design Award, now in its third edition, has launched a challenge for the development of an agri-food hub in West Africa.

The GHANA INNOVATION FARM promoted by InspiraFarms in Ghana will be a highly technological Hub, with areas dedicated to training and infrastructures for an efficient cold chain. This, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Program of United Nations, will support local farmers in the harvest season and in the subsequent period.

The reaction from the world of architecture was extraordinary, with teams from 86 countries on 5 continents participating in the contest. The most innovative proposals were selected by the international panel of Judges, including Eduardo Souto de Moura (Souto de Moura Architects), Andreas Fries (Herzog & de Meuron), Giancarlo Mazzanti (El Equipo Mazzanti), Raul Pantaleo (TAMassociati), Giuseppe Grant (Orizzontale).

The fundamental criterion was the attention to the sustainability of the project, both in the construction phase and in the long term, thanks to the use of technologies for off-site construction by Manni Group and its partners, which also were assigned 4 GOLD Mentions.

The Manni Group Design Award 2021 is patronized by SACE, the Italian Export Credit Agency, Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), Ifria, Fondazione Promotion Steel; Main Sponsor BASF; Sponsor RENOLIT Alkorplan Roofing Products and ROCKWOOL.


We had the pleasure of evaluating a range of works created by designers from 86 countries to find the best designs for this hub dedicated to the cold chain and the development of local skills, flanked by top judges such as Eduardo Souto de Moura and Herzog & De Meuron, as well as a representative of the United Nations Development Program. The three winners who took the podium, representing Belgium, Denmark and Poland, developed designs with a very personal mold that allowed them to give a unique identity to the project, while remaining very consistent with the concept behind the competition and skillfully within the African context. The attention paid to the energy aspect from a sustainability perspective, an element perfectly in line with our Group strategies, was certainly relevant in the selection criteria for projects. The great work done by the Gold Mention winners, who we believe were able to make the most of the off-site technologies made available within the abacus, should be emphasized”, says Enrico Frizzera, CEO and General Manager of Manni Group.

Also, the juror Giuseppe Grant, Orizzontale shares his thought: “The three winning projects of the Ghana Innovation Farm have been selected from hundreds of very valid proposals. In my opinion, the winners demonstrated exceptional design mastery in developing very well structured and feasible proposals. I greatly appreciated in these projects the balance that exists between the architectural research of form and the use of local materials and construction technologies, which combine to create non-trivial bioclimatic solutions without ever falling into excessive aesthetic virtuosity. I believe that the competition of ideas was an important opportunity for all participants to practice as designers on such important topics, I'm sure they will need it in the future!"

Let's find out the first three classified of the GHANA INNOVATION FARM contest.


1° PRIZE | SAPLAB, The Innovation Farm | Belgium

Two cross-shaped avenues are the organizing fulcrum of the agri-food Hub: the longitudinal axis allows the traffic of vehicles to and from the farm, the transverse one connects it to the lush surrounding countryside through the impluvium, which allows the undisturbed processing of the harvest.

The SAPLAB winning team comes from Belgium and is made up of Shiran Potié, Arno Goedefroo, Maurice Demeyer, Robin Feys. The attention of the architects focuses on the innovation center of the Hub, which uses the modern opportunities of steel to create a highly efficient building, enhancing at the same time the local culture. The Innovation Farm combines the functionality of the infrastructures for the agri-food supply chain with the physical and mental well-being of the workers offered by the relax areas.

Great emphasis was given to the different technologies of Manni Group in every part of the building and to the optimization of the materials chosen for the construction. The concept for the design of the roof is the "Golden Stool" of the Ashanti culture, where the curved structure of the green roof is supported by Manni Sipre heavy steel carpentry: each truss made with GreenROOF system has an identical geometry, but it rotates in different ways to shape the roof slope; the secondary structure is made up of local soft wood beams, which reduces the cost caused by transportation.

For the building envelope, Isopan sandwich panels were chosen, here characterized by a surface pattern inspired by the typical Kenthe fabric print: the technological innovation of thermal insulation systems is thus combined with the history and local culture of Ghana.

With a minimal use of material and an efficient organization of the program, a very flexible and yet specific space is being created. The four buildings grouped around a crossroads evoke a small village placed gently into the surrounding landscape”, Andreas Fries, Herzog & de Meuron.

The Innovation Farm recognizes the context by incorporating the project into the landscape, achieving a subtle and light architecture. The management of the roof in the project achieves an interesting language that unites passive control and sustainability with spatial richness”, Giancarlo Mazzanti, El Equipo Mazzanti.

We have reviewed a very large number of great designed projects focused on innovation, sustainability, integration with the fields, landscapes and local cultures developed with different perspectives and solutions. Simply great and congratulations to the winning project”, Manuel Kabana, Ifria.


2° PRIZE | POTeam, One Roof | Denmark

An open-source project built with local resources: One Roof is not just a cold room Hub, but a model made up of different principles that can be replicated, transformed and improved according to the community’s needs.

The silver medal of the contest goes to the Danish POTeam - composed of Omar Dabaan, Paul Schrijen, Paola Carrara, Faiza Hamid - for having created a highly functional concept intended for a healthy and social workplace, which is closely connected to the agrarian landscape that it feeds and integrates it with its needs as a storage and distribution hub.

The building takes full advantage of the natural thermoregulation given by the choice of materials and dry technologies, according to principles found in many mosques in sub-Saharan Africa: these form a hybrid between the best of local traditions, skills and the new economy with a global engineering potential.

The modular structure in Light Steel Frame is complemented by walls made from hemp scraps, produced with a technique like that of mud bricks common in the local construction market: Hempcrete has special insulating properties and Ghana is in a position unique to start a supply chain for this new sustainable material. As can be seen in the technical detail, the architects chose Isodeck PVSteel for the flat roof of the building, on which Manni Energy's photovoltaic panels are installed, providing the necessary electricity. Finally, a clever system of chimneys allows passive cooling of the air which, although very low temperatures are required in the storage areas, leads to significant energy savings.

An innovative combination of steel, hempcrete and lime plaster allows for a sustainable and architecturally appealing construction that is very much rooted in the context. The way the different volumes are grouped together leads to a very attractive sequence of indoor and outdoor spaces”, Andreas Fries.

One Roof comprehensively projects the relationship between activity and nature, having an autochthonous technical management, and prioritizing collective activities through the patio resulting from the relationship of the buildings”, Giancarlo Mazzanti.


3° PRIZE | J.Przybylska A.Holdenmajer, Along the street | Poland

The concept behind the project is based on one word, the street. Just as the streets of the cities of Ghana are the place where the inhabitants spend their lives, so the road is lowered into the design of the Innovation Farm where it becomes the nucleus around which the buildings develop according to their function.

The third place of the Manni Group Design Award 2021 goes to the Polish duo Agata Holdenmajer and Jagna Przybylska: for Along the street they wanted those coming to the Hub to learn to do so in a modern place, where classrooms, laboratories and offices are built with state-of-the-art materials and techniques.

All the technologies proposed by Manni Group were used in the project. The four buildings for harvest processing and education have a supporting structure in Light Steel Frame by Manni Green Tech and are clad with ventilated facades from the Isopan ADDWind range, while the flat roofs with Isodeck PVSteel panels support the photovoltaic plant by Manni Energy. Finally, Isopan's Isofrozen panels were used to ensure the insulation of the cold rooms.

In Ghana, the sunlight is very intrusive. To protect the users of the company from the heat, the building blocks are connected by a common roof, a bamboo pergola that creates shaded passages. In the center, a circular canteen/cafeteria favors sociality: this develops around an open courtyard and has no doors and windows to ensure constant natural ventilation.

Besides a careful allocation of the different program parts to guarantee optimal production processes, the project takes in consideration the needs of human beings, allowing for manifold social interactions along an urban inner street with a pleasant village square”, Andreas Fries.

ALONG THE STREET, integrates the program with a significant circular space for the community and relates it through the semi-permeable cover, which screens the route and protects users”, Giancarlo Mazzanti.


Architecture achieves its highest purpose when it improves people's quality of life: congratulations to the contest winners and to the numerous participants, who have been able to go beyond the concept of the cold chain and see the potential for human capital development due to an efficient food supply chain.

Written by

Raffaele Bulgarelli - Digital Marketing Expert at Manni Group
Raffaele Bulgarelli - Digital Marketing Expert at Manni Group

Raffaele, Digital Marketing Expert of Manni Group, works in synergy with Isopan, gaining insight into the technical world of sandwich panels and keeping pace with the latest trends in the building industry. Thanks to his training in Architecture, he has a keen eye for online topics and activities involving designers and architects.

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