Coinciding with its centenary, the American University in Cairo (AUC) will host the 6th International Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction in early April 2019. The three-day symposium dedicated to “Re-materializing Construction” will bring together 300 specialists from more than 50 countries. It is organized by the Holcim Foundation with the support of Lafarge Egypt. The announcement took place in the presence of key national media.
Hussein Mansi, CEO of Lafarge Egypt, said “it is a great honor for our country and our city to be chosen as the location for a global event of this kind.” He noted that hosting the Forum “is a recognition of Egypt’s great history and its 40-year efforts to urbanize the desert through the construction of a large number of new cities.” Hussein Mansi conveyed the gratitude of LafargeHolcim to His Excellency Assem El-Gazzar, Minister of Housing of Egypt, for permitting the event to be held under his auspices.
Leading the way in sustainable construction
Enhancing sustainability of its products is in the DNA of Lafarge Egypt, explained Hussein Mansi (pictured left). The company has reduced the use of fossil fuels by 20 per cent through the co-processing of waste, which also saves non-recyclable waste from ending up in landfill. The latest generation of cementitious products that were used to build the Suez Canal Tunnel created 50 per cent less CO2 by comparison to traditional building materials.
Alaa-Eldin Adris, Associate Provost of the AUC, observed that collaborating beyond academia has a long tradition at the university. “AUC actively interacts with society and the industrial community,” he said. “AUC is proud to host the LafargeHolcim Forum on its premises and to organize four concurrent full-day ‘mobile workshops’ introducing participants to the specifics of building methods and materials in Egypt. The mobile workshops address archeological heritage, water challenges, desert cities, and the new vernacular in popular urbanization,” noted Alaa-Eldin Adris.
On behalf of the Holcim Foundation, Edward Schwarz explained how sustainability in construction is defined in a holistic way by the Foundation and how it is promoted by various programs, including the triennial Forum that will take place for the first time in Middle East Africa. “Being less bad is simply not good enough,” he quoted from a collection of propositions prepared for symposium attendees that seeks to identify radical solutions in the use of building materials.
World renowned keynote speakers confirmed
Each keynote speaker is going to address the topic of “Re-materializing construction” from a different angle: the architects Lord Norman Foster (United Kingdom), Christine Binswanger (Switzerland), Francis Kéré (Burkina Faso), Anne Lacaton (France) and Mitchell Joachim (USA) will each show a typical approach to increasing sustainability by foregrounding the issues relevant to building materials.
The former Egyptian Minister of Urban Renewal, Laila Iskandar, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment of New Zealand, Rt Hon Simon Upton, will add reflections from the point of view of authorities and governmental bodies. Intense engagement with the topic of “Re-materializing Construction” will take place in four concurrent workshops that include input presentations and discussions about changing paradigms, the dynamics of stocks and flows, digitalization, and “needs versus impact” related to building materials.
Edward Schwarz emphasized that the introductory and the closing sessions of the Holcim Forum will be open to students, and that several hundred academics and professionals are signing up to attend by invitation of AUC and Lafarge Egypt.
Supporting practice-related research
Nada Nafeh (pictured left), Junior Advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German development agency based in Bonn, Germany and winner of a Holcim Awards Next Generation prize (2017), said how proud she is to be the first representative from Egypt to have been honored with a prize in the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design. She also received a Holcim Research in Practice Grant, enabling her to drive ahead her ongoing research project that incorporates elements of sustainable construction into new communities in Egypt. She encouraged everyone with suitable ideas and projects to enter the Holcim Awards: “Your work receives exposure far beyond the boundaries of your country – and you gain access to a global network second to none,” she said.
The 6th International Holcim Awards will be open for submissions from June 2019 until February 2020 at www.lafargeholcim-awards.org.