Day Three, the final day, of the 6th International Holcim Forum commenced with the continuation of the four workshops on themes of Changing paradigms; Shifting the flows, pulling the strings; From manual to digital and vice versa; and Catch 22. Participants then travelled to Tahrir Square Campus of the American University in Cairo (AUC) for the concluding session in historic Ewart Hall, which has been the venue for watershed speeches in modern Egyptian history. Moderators briefly presented the outcomes of their workshops: Werner Sobek, Director, Institute for Lightweight Structures & Conceptual Design, University of Stuttgart; Marilyne Andersen, Full Professor of Sustainable Construction Technologies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL Lausanne); Anna Heringer, Honorary Professor, UNESCO Chair for Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development; and Harry Gugger, Professor for Architectural & Urban Design, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland.
Simon Upton (pictured left), Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, New Zealand, who had spent the Forum absorbing the discussions in the workshops and keynote addresses, reflected on the challenges identified in reaching a sustainable built environment. He noted the difficulties in both explaining complicated problems in simple ways, and for global externalities to be made visible at the local level. “How with such little time do we tackle a problem of such complexity and such scale – and thereby intelligently re-materialize our economy?” he asked.
“Being less bad is simply not good enough”
Michael Braungart, Academic Chair, Cradle-to-Cradle for Innovation & Quality, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in the Netherlands provided a note of optimism based on his seminal “Cradle-to-Cradle” concept. He asserted the need to depart radically from the approach to design that had created the problem. “If you just perfect the wrong design, you end up with a design that is perfectly wrong,” he said.
He was presented with the Holcim Foundation Catalyst Award (pictured left) – a recognition for experts who have made a substantial, outstanding, and lasting contribution to the advancement of sustainable development and truly living up to his dictum that “being less bad is simply not good enough.” The Award was presented by Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim.
Mitchell Joachim, Professor of Architecture & Urban Design, New York University and Co-Founder, Terreform ONE, USA presented a range of projects that pursue net neutrality addressing waste in cities, food, water, energy, air quality, equity, mobility. He illustrated the importance of enabling the design process to be blue-sky thinking and at the same time creating awareness in communities about the impacts of non-sustainable practices. “‘Design against extinction’ or socio-ecological design is our mantra. Blending engineering, science and design can produce sustainable solutions, but it’s the social side that’s equally important,” he said.
Student poster competition for next generation concepts
The Forum also brought together faculty members and students of leading technical universities associated with the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. Post-graduate students presented their concepts in a poster exhibition that showcased their innovative concepts living up to the “target issues” for sustainable construction. The universities represented were: American University in Cairo, Egypt; American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture de Casablanca, Morocco; Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT Chicago), USA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; National University of Singapore; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich & EPFL Lausanne), Switzerland; Tongji University and Tsinghua University, China; Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO), Mexico; Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil; University of British Columbia, Canada, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.
The winners of the student poster competition were announced and received certificates during the concluding session of the Forum (pictured above). The prizes went to Juan M Name Guzzy, Armando, Carlos Vázquez and Roberto Villaseñor of Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO), Mexico for M-E-X – Mercado Embarcadero Xochimilco (1st prize); Samy Aachati, Laila El Bardi and Meryem Kharmoudy from Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture (EAC), Morocco for Insertion of a Water Treatment Cycle (2nd); and Eduardo Cortazar of IBERO, Mexico for Living Mexico City (3rd). Two Highly commended prizes ex aequo were presented to Shubham Bayskar from Amravati, India for Community Farm Produced Processing and Storage and to Bhavya Hemant Gandhi and Jhanvi Sanghvi of the National University of Singapore for Feeding the city.
Academic publication inspired by the Forum
Ruby Press Berlin will release The Material Book, a publication inspired by the Forum, evaluating current architectural practices and models, and also introducing materials and methods to maximize the environmental, social, and economic performance of the built environment in the context of “Re-materializing Construction”.