The Detroit Waterfront District rewards steel: offsite as an innovative technology for sustainable urban regeneration

28 Oct 2020
The Detroit Waterfront District rewards steel: offsite as an innovative technology for sustainable urban regeneration
The Detroit Waterfront District is the theme of the second edition of the Manni Group Design Award: the contest of ideas run by Manni Group, in collaboration with YAC – Young Architects Competition and Sterling Group, is an international chance to reflect on the sustainable redevelopment of cities through the most innovative building technologies.

The reference site is the city of Detroit, specifically the deserted riverfront area where the Joe Louis Arena used to be. The participants of the 2020 contest are required to design a new mixed-use district which includes luxury residences, hotels, business area, commercial and cultural centres.

The focus is therefore urban regeneration with low environmental impact using a constructive paradigm that Manni Group and its companies have always been promoting: steel offsite construction.


Steel and dry construction

Offsite construction makes it possible to build and pre-assemble most of the components directly on the production site, thereby limiting the actual work time on site and its related costs. For Manni Group, this approach translates into the use of steel for the structural frames and sandwich panels for the envelopes.

Three Group companies are involved:

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

Unlike traditional construction which uses large amounts of water, dry construction with steel fulfils the criteria of sustainability, recyclability of materials and energy savings, combined to guarantee the minimum environmental impact and the maximum freedom of expression for the designer.

Contestants of the Manni Group Design Award are given a schedule of technical possibilities that can be used in the design of the Detroit Waterfront District, useful for obtaining one of the four contest GOLD Mentions.


2nd Manni Group Design Award partners

Main Sponsor: Tata Steel


Alongside the companies of the Group, once more the contest features the collaboration of an international Main Sponsor: Tata Steel, one of the world’s main steel companies, is one of the major European steel producers with steel sites in Holland, Great Britain and production sites across Europe. They mainly work in the building and infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering industries.

The Tata Steel solution suggested by the contest schedule is Colorcoat Prisma®: a three-layered cutting-edge production technology used to create an optimised, sturdy and chrome-free pre-coated steel product. This solution provides dry facades with designer finishes, available in a broad range of colours to achieve the aesthetic result imagined by the architect.

As the Main Sponsor, Tata Steel awards a GOLD Mention to projects that present designer finishes to building facades. In fact, Claudio Chimienti, current Regional Manager of Tata Steel for Southern Europe, shall be participating in the panel of the Manni Group Design Award alongside architects of international level.


Sponsors: Dow and Rockwool

The following shall be participating as Sponsors:

Dow, an American chemical company which, founded over 100 years ago, is now one of the most important in the world. The polyurethane technology by Dow, as the technical partner for Isopan, applied to the insulation of the architectural envelope, covers an essential role in the design of buildings that fulfil the environmental and almost zero-energy standards. This collaboration, in fact, enables the development of innovative technologies such as Leaf, aimed at improving insulating performance.



ROCKWOOL, this Danish group provides rockwool solutions for construction. The rockwool insulating panels developed from the collaboration between ROCKWOOL and Isopan offer excellent fire resistance performance, and this solution can also be applied to the GreenROOF system.

Sterling Group

The Detroit Waterfront District contest is promoted by Manni Group in collaboration with Sterling Group, a private real estate investment company founded in Detroit in 1988, which buys and manages high potential properties. The CEO, Elie Torgow, is on the panel of the Manni Group Design Award.


The project schedule and GOLD Mentions

In addition to the top three winners, the prize money includes the assignment of 4 GOLD Mentions related to the technologies introduced in the contest schedule about three project nodes, that will be the centre of the technical detail requested in a scale of 1:20.

NODE 1 - Structure

For this node the use of Manni Sipre heavy steel frame or the Manni Green Tech Light Steel Frame is suggested to earn the “The Power of Steel” GOLD Mention.

The use of steel presents numerous advantages. Let us see what they are:

• versatility of application and freedom of expression;

• complete recyclability without losing any of its original properties;

• maximisation of indoor spaces.


NODE 2 – Wall solutions | Isopan ADDMIRA

The use of Isopan ADDVISION with Tata Steel - Colorcoat Prisma® is recommended for the “Aesthetics that Lasts” GOLD Mention.

The advantages of this solution:

• exceptional UV performance and corrosion resistance;

• broad choice of standard colours;

• it provides improved aesthetics and long-term performance.


Isopan ARKWALL, on the other hand, is recommended for the Isopan “Ventilated Façade” GOLD Mention. This is a system for ventilated facades comprised of components and layers mechanically secured to the building.

ARKWALL guarantees:

• limitless covering possibilities;

• high thermal performance.


NODE 3 – Flat roof

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

Specifically, Isopan PVSteel:

• significantly reduces the ‘heat island’ effect thanks to Cool Roof systems, obtaining an improvement of the albedo and thermal insulation;

• reduces energy consumption;

• lowers CO2 emissions in the atmosphere;

The GreenROOF solution, which consists in fitting the green roof system into a flat roof made from double skin grooved sandwich panels, on the other hand:

• contributes to bioclimatic improvement;

• offers virtuous management of the rain water;

• improves the thermo-acoustic insulation with subsequent energy savings;

• traps particulate.


Info Detroit Waterfront District contest:

Manni Group Design Award Prize Money: € 20,000

Participation: individuals or teams of architects of any nationality, as long as at least one component is under 35.

Deadline for sending in projects: 23 December 2020

“Early bird” deadline: 25 October 2020

More info:

For further information or request for support, contact YAC at

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