Anna Heringer

Aga Khan Design Critic in Architecture

Photo by Nina Rettenbacher

For Anna Heringer, architecture is a tool to improve lives. As an architect and honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture, Building Cultures, and Sustainable Development, she focuses on the use of natural building materials. Her diploma work at the METI School in Rudrapur was completed in 2005 and won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Over the years, Anna has completed further projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Together with Martin Rauch, she developed the method of Clay Storming which she teaches at various universities, including ETH Zurich, UP Madrid, TU Munich.

Anna has received numerous honors which include the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, the AR Emerging Architecture Awards in 2006 and 2008, the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a RIBA International Fellowship. Her work has been widely published and exhibited in places such as the MoMA New York, the V&A Museum in London and at the Venice Biennale, among others. In 2013, she initiated the Laufenmanifesto with Andres Lepik and Hubert Klumpner where practitioners and academics from around the world defined guidelines for a humane design culture. In 2017, Anna presented a TED talk on earthen architecture. She currently teaches at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The vision behind, and motivation for my work is to explore and use architecture as a medium to strengthen cultural and individual confidence, to support local economies and to foster the ecological balance. For me, sustainability is a synonym for beauty: a building that is harmonious in its design, structure, technique and use of materials, as well as with the location, the environment, the user, the socio-cultural context. This, for me, is what defines its sustainable and aesthetic value.