The prize

Earth is becoming increasingly popular in contemporary architecture: hundreds of projects of high aesthetic and technical quality are emerging across five continents. This material, which has low embodied energy, is readily available and appropriate for participatory buildings. It could help provide a solution to the needs for ecological and economical housing.

To enable both professionals and the general public to fully appreciate this building material, the following partners have taken the initiative, under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen architecture, construction cultures and sustainable development”, to launch the first international prize for contemporary earthen architecture: the CRAterre-AE&CC-ENSAG Laboratory, amàco, les Grands Ateliers, and EcologiK/EK magazine.

Wang Shu, 2012 Pritzker architecture prize laureate, is the president of honour of this TERRA Award, the trophies for which will be presented in Lyon on July 14, 2016 at the Terra 2016 World Congress.



Since its creation in 1979, the CRAterre-AE&CC-ENSAG Laboratory has been considered as the international research and training reference centre for earthen construction. It will organize in July 2016, under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen architecture”, the Terra 2016. This World Congress takes place every four years on a different continent and will be held for the second time in Europe. It is expected to draw around 800 professionals, teachers and researches to Lyon (France).

The TERRA Award was initiated within this framework. It will be the first international prize for contemporary earthen architecture and a natural furtherance of the national award launched in 2013 in France by CRAterre-AE&CC-ENSAG Laboratory, AsTerre and EcologiK/EK magazine.



The purpose of the TERRA Award is not only to identify and distinguish outstanding projects, but also to highlight the audacity of the project owners for choosing to use earth, the creativity of the designers and the skills of the craftsmen and entrepreneurs.
An itinerant exhibition will feature 40 buildings from all continents, constructed using various techniques (adobe, cob, CEB, rammed earth, plaster, etc.) for all types of programs: housing, public facilities, activities, and exterior and interior designs. The exhibition will be completed with lectures and workshops by CRAterre-AE&CC-ENSAG Laboratory and amàco.
The search for outstanding achievements deserving of this prize and the associated exhibition will make it possible to generate the first worldwide database on contemporary earthen architecture. The resulting virtual library will be available both to the general public and professionals via this website.



The projects must have been completed after January 2000.
There are eight categories covering all types of programs, whether new or renovated:

  • Individual housing
  • Collective housing
  • School, sports and health facilities
  • Cultural facilities and religious buildings
  • Offices, shops and factories
  • Interior layout and design
  • Exterior design, art and landscape
  • Architecture and local development

All documents will be published in French, Spanish and English.



Two juries will be formed consisting of prestigious international experts along with representatives of institutions and all stakeholders in the earth sector. The competition will be in two phases.
Phase 1: nomination of 40 buildings, which will be presented within the itinerant exhibition.
Phase 2: a jury of honour will choose one winner for each of the eight categories from the preselected buildings.

Phase 1, nomination of 40 buildings, which will be presented within the itinerant exhibition;

Phase 2, a jury of honour will choose one winner for each of the eight categories from the preselected buildings.

The selection criteria will include quality of architecture and showcasing of skills, taking account of social and environmental requirements:

  • Architectural quality and landscape integration
  • Environmental approach and energy performance
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Technical performance
  • Local economy and social intensity
  • Showcasing of skills

Download the text of presentation (pdf)