This May 29-year-old Swee Hong Ng surfaced at the top of the pack of more than 300 architects in Architecture for Humanity’s latest design competition, for a soccer field and HIV/AIDS outreach center in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. His sloping site plan, terraced brick seating, and local fabric for sun-shading resonated with the all-girls Siyathemba football club, which selected his project after it was short-listed by an international jury.
“The landscape is composed of rolling hills,” Ng says, “so I started off searching for a way to integrate with the landscape and keep material costs to a minimum by using the earth to generate form.” It’s a move that Ng—a Singapore native completing his license with EDGE studio in Pittsburgh—has used in competitions for the Groen Hoek boathouse, in Brooklyn, and a Dupont Benedictus library, in Pittsburgh, but sensitivity to local context is a strategy that probably never goes out of style. “Community participation was one of the key drivers,” Ng says. “It’s very difficult to get people together for a talk about HIV or AIDS, so I tried to use the sport as a vehicle to reach out to them.”