Portugal-based nonprofit refurbishes old buildings with natural insulation

February 3, 2020 by  
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With a background in social initiatives, nonprofit Critical Concrete aims to refurbish socially relevant spaces that are shared by low-income communities in Portugal. In addition to refurbishing homes for those in need, Critical Concrete is also focused on educating the local community on sustainable actions and earth-friendly practices by running several different educational programs and activities. The organization promotes green architecture and social action through a summer school program that refurbishes a home for a family in need every year. In August, 32 students from 20 countries were brought together for three intense weeks, with a plan to establish a model to refurbish housing through sustainable methods. With the help of 15 experienced mentors and support from the team at Critical Concrete, the group worked on a home in the Bairro dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Neighborhood) of Matosinhos in northern Porto. The old quarter was originally built for fishermen and their families around the turn of the 20th century. Related: Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal To ensure that the theories behind the actions were being absorbed as well, students spent Tuesdays and Thursdays attending lectures by the program mentors, who were experts in architecture , new ways of building and urban perspective. Critical Concrete has made these lectures available on its Youtube channel , so anyone can learn more about these topics. Along with cooperation from the Municipality of Matosinhos, Critical Concrete also worked alongside public organization MatosinhosHabit, who contributed the cost of materials. The original building was constructed in the 1930s and is a representation of typical homes found around the Bairro dos Pescadores neighborhood, as in it is built without insulation . Previously, the nonprofit had used materials such as mycelium and wool to create an insulation solution for these types of structures, but in 2019, Critical Concrete started working with a new mixture of cardboard and lime. While this blend proved to be the most durable solution, it was also quite arduous. First, the cardboard is wetted and shredded, then mixed with sand, hydraulic and hydrated lime and plaster. Finally, the mix is applied to the formwork molds of the structure and dried. Though the transformation of even one house per year is impressive enough, Critical Concrete hopes to convert even more homes through additional projects in the future and have a more positive influence on similar communities throughout Portugal . + Critical Concrete Images via Critical Concrete

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Portugal-based nonprofit refurbishes old buildings with natural insulation

Egyptian pavilion proposal for 2020 Venice Biennale targets climate change

February 3, 2020 by  
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According to the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, climate change and poaching are putting approximately 70 animal species in the country at risk of extinction. In a bid to highlight Egypt’s biodiversity crisis and environmental threats, international design collective Cosmos Architecture submitted a climate change-focused design proposal to the Egyptian Ministry of Culture’s design competition for the Egyptian pavilion at the 2020 Venice Biennale. The project was selected as a runner-up in late December 2019. Cosmos Architecture’s Egyptian pavilion proposal comprises a small entry area in the front, an open-plan main exhibition space, a screening area and storage space. The minimalist pavilion explores two main topics: the negative aspects of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch defined by human influence, such as climate change and deforestation; and case studies of current technologies and solutions that aim to “balance ecological diversity in Egypt … and create a new symbiotic urban environment.” Related: Immersive, dystopian exhibit shows what life could be like post-climate change The architects have dubbed the case study projects and proposed environmentally friendly solutions “watermarks” and propose projecting some of these example projects inside steel mesh installations that hang from the ceiling to educate pavilion visitors. The case studies cover a range of topics, from conservation of natural habitats to the sensitive adaptive reuse of post-industrial sites. “The case studies that were examined to represent the good watermarks in Egypt were done so with the intention of researching how different places are reacting and responding to the effects of Anthropocenic climate-related phenomena (i.e. loss of habitat , scarcity of farmable land from overgrazing, species extinction and industrial scars),” explained the project team, which comprises Mohamed Hassan El-Gendy, Sameh Zayed, Pietro Paolo Speziale, Juan Martinez, David Sastre and Nader Moro. “What the selected case studies will tell us is that designing for climate change comes in many different forms.” + Cosmos Architecture Images via Cosmos Architecture

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Egyptian pavilion proposal for 2020 Venice Biennale targets climate change

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