The Ghana Innovation Farm for sustainable development: the future of the Cold Chain in Africa is off-site

The Ghana Innovation Farm for sustainable development: the future of the Cold Chain in Africa is off-site

15 Nov, 2021

Helping Africa recover, starting from the cold chain: this is the concept of the GHANA INNOVATION FARM, the architectural theme of the Manni Group Design Award 2021, the call for ideas launched for the third year in a row in collaboration with YAC – Young Architects Competition: a great opportunity to reflect on the impact that architecture can have on social and humanitarian issues.

The project site is located in central Ghana, about an hour away from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, where the Government of Ghana has approved the construction of a 171-hectare technology hub: InspiraFarms plans to build a cold chain centre here, in line with the United Nations Development Programme, aimed at providing support to local farmers during and after the harvest season. In fact, the purpose of the GHANA INNOVATION FARM is to serve as an innovative training centre that will build skills and raise awareness about food in order to trigger a virtuous circle that will secure the livelihoods of future generations.

Contest participants have been asked to design the food processing areas, the buildings to be used for training purposes, and the facilities for services and socialising activities. Great emphasis is placed on the project’s sustainability, both during construction and in the long term, through the use of off-site construction technologies by Manni Group and its partners.


Dry construction for the cold chain

Offsite construction makes it possible to build and pre-assemble most of the components directly during production, thereby limiting the actual work time on site and the related costs. This approach has allowed Manni Group to create a complete system combining steel components for load-bearing structure and sandwich panels for the envelope (façades, walls and roofing).

Unlike conventional construction, dry steel construction significantly reduces the environmental impacts, as it does not require the use of water, but rather the use of recyclable materials, thus improving the building’s energy performance. This last aspect is of paramount importance when designing temperature-controlled environments, where it is essential to ensure excellent thermal insulation in order to optimize the use of energy and the storage conditions of the food inside.

Manni Group has been committed to developing high-performance solutions for off-site buildings for many years now, with a special focus on the refrigeration industry. Three of the Group’s companies are involved in the Manni Group Design Award:

  • Manni Sipre – which produces semi-finished steel structural elements;
  • Isopan - which focuses on the production of insulation envelope design solutions;
  • Manni Green Tech – specialised in the construction of Light Steel Frame, they deal with the engineering aspect of dry projects.

Contest participants are given a schedule of technical possibilities that can be used in the design of the GHANA INNOVATION FARM, useful for obtaining one of the four GOLD Mention awards up for grabs.


The partners of MGDA21

The prestige of the call for ideas announced by Manni Group is reflected in the fact that it is sponsored by SACE, insurance-financial company specialized in supporting the growth and development of companies and the national economic fabric, which is dedicated to the development of sustainable projects in Italy and abroad, even in new and relatively unknown markets. Alongside this partnership, the company has also entered into partnerships with world-leading companies that support Manni Group in raising awareness and growth of dry construction expertise.


Main Sponsor: BASF


The international Main Sponsor of the third edition of the MGDA is BASF, one of the world’s largest chemical producers. This multinational company, established in 1865 in Germany, has production facilities in Europe, Asia and the Americas, employing more than 110,000 people in six sectors: Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions.

The design solution that sees BASF involved in the competition is the Isopan Isofrozen panel, the use of which is recommended to win the BASF GOLD Mention for temperature-controlled areas. The chemical producer is an active member of the international panel: Lorenzo Bottinelli, Managing Director and Vice Chairman of BASF Italia, will be selecting the most innovative projects along with the starchitects.




The following will be participating as Sponsors:

WEB RGB ROCKWOOL® logo - Primary Colour RGB-1


ROCKWOOL - a Danish group that provides rock wool solutions for construction. The rock wool insulating panels developed from the collaboration between ROCKWOOL and Isopan offer excellent fire resistance performance.



RENOLIT - Part of the German RENOLIT Group, RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Roofing Products, with headquarters near Barcelona, is a leader in the manufacture of durable, versatile and certified high-quality synthetic membranes for use in waterproofing roofs and coverings. The white “cool roof” version has the highest SRI in the CRRC database, i.e. 115.



Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA)


In addition to the sponsors, the Manni Group Design Award is also supported by other prestigious international partners in the Cold Chain and Agri-food sectors.

In 2007, several major cold chain organisations joined forces to form the Global Cold Chain Alliance, which serves more than 1,100 food companies in 85 countries, providing third-party temperature-controlled supply chain services. GCCA is a communication, networking and training platform for each segment of the cold chain. CEO Matthew Ott is one of the judges on the MGDA21 panel.




InspiraFarms_CYMK_Dark Type-01

Founded in 2012, InspiraFarms aims to provide small farms with the tools, technology and expertise required to significantly reduce food losses and cut energy costs, and thus enter more profitable markets. It designs, develops and supplies energy-efficient, modular cold rooms and warehouses for the fruit and vegetable sector in emerging markets, especially in African countries. It has its head office in London, but it also has offices in Perugia, Italy, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana. CCO Michele Bruni represents InspiraFarms on the contest panel.





Ifria is an integrated cold chain development company focused on developing and operating cold chain logistics assets ranging from added value storage/logistic hubs to first mile cold chain installations. Ifria is also committed to developing global frontier markets in order to profitably develop impactful cold chain assets in North and West African countries. Manuel Cabrera Kabana, Corporate Partner of Ifria, is a member of the MGDA judging panel.



Fondazione Promozione Acciaio


Fondazione Promozione Acciaio is a cultural foundation that promotes the development of steel construction and infrastructure in Italy. The extensive work done by the Foundation is helping to make steel design and construction know-how more widely available, expanding the pool of professionals and investors who work with steel and improving the quality of Italy’s buildings and infrastructures.



Design schedule and GOLD Mention

The prize money foresees, other than the winners, the assignment of 4 GOLD Mentions related to the technologies presented in the competition schedule on 4 possible design nodes, which will be at the centre of the required 1:20 scale detail.

NODE 1 - Structure

For this node, we suggest using Manni Sipre structural steel elements or Light Steel Frame elements by Manni Green Tech, which can be worthy of the “Manni Sipre and Manni Green Tech” GOLD Mention.

Immagine 002

Steel is known for offering many advantages in the field of architecture, such as:

  • versatility of application and freedom of expression;
  • full recyclability without losing any of its original properties;
  • maximisation of interior spaces.


NODE 2 – Wall solutions | Isopan ADDMIRA

Choosing Isopan ADDVision guarantees:

  • Exceptional UV performance and corrosion resistance
  • Wide choice of standard colours


Isopan ADDWind, instead, is suggested to obtain the Isopan “Ventilated Façade” GOLD Mention. This is a system for ventilated façades comprised of components and layers mechanically secured to the building. ADDWind ensures the following for a building:

  • Material with aesthetic value
  • High thermal performance

NODE 3 – Flat roof

Isopan Isodeck PVSteel and Isopan GreenROOF are both suggested to achieve the “Flat Roof Solutions” GOLD Mention.

Specifically, Isopan Isodeck PVSteel:

  • It considerably reduces the Heat Island Effect thanks to the “Cool Roof”
  • systems: improvement of albedo and thermal insulation.
  • It reduces energy consumption
  • Reduces CO2 emissions into the atmosphere

231 - Copia-1

Conversely, the green roof cover solution GreenROOF, which consists in fitting the green roof system onto a flat roof made from sandwich panels, offers:

    • bioclimatic improvement;
    • efficient management of rainwater;
    • improved soundproofing;
    • trapping of particulates;
    • extends the usable surfaces;
    • increased energy production of solar panels thanks to its cooling effect.


Node 4 – Cold rooms

L’uso di Isopan Isofrozen per le celle frigo è suggerito per ottenere la GOLD Mention “BASF”. Questo pannello sandwich è particolarmente indicato per:

  • eccellenti prestazioni termiche
  • massima igiene
  • certificazione di reazione al fuoco Bs1d0.


Per partecipare al GHANA INNOVATION FARM contest:

Montepremi Manni Group Design Award: 20.000 €

Partecipazione: possono partecipare singoli o team di architetti di qualsiasi nazionalità, purché almeno un componente sia under 35.

Termine invio elaborati: 19 gennaio 2022

Termine “Early bird”: 21 novembre 2021

Maggiori info:

Per qualsiasi informazione o richiesta di supporto contattare YAC all’indirizzo

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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