Holcim Foundation


Examining strategies to “re-materialize” construction

6th Holcim Forum kicks-off with internationally renowned speakers and in-depth workshops

Day One of the 6th International Holcim Forum featured keynote speeches by four internationally-renowned “star” architects to an enthusiastic audience of more than 1,200 people. Lord Norman Foster, Foster + Partners, United Kingdom; Christine Binswanger, Herzog & de Meuron, Switzerland; Anne Lacaton, Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, France; and Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture, Germany explained their approaches to design that embed sustainability even before the first sketch is created.

The Holcim Forum is a tri-annual series of conferences on the topic of sustainable construction conducted by the Foundation. The multi-day Forum, including workshops and site visits, is an academic platform for architects, engineers, construction professionals and specialists of all generations to exchange information on creating a sustainable built environment and thus advancing sustainable development.

F19-Foster-224.jpgLord Norman Foster (left) addressed the proposition “How much does your building weigh, Mr Foster?” with illustrations of how design is inseparable from nature. Using examples of his work including Apple Park, the Corporate Headquarters of Apple Inc, California, USA and Bloomberg’s European Headquarters in London, he showed the interconnection between design and the selection of materials. “Sustainability is inseparable from energy, and inseparable from the process of recycling,” he said.

Christine Binswanger explored the theme of “Make it desirable” and ways of ensuring buildings with higher sustainability attain greater public support. Projects such as the REHAB Basel Centre for Spinal Cord & Brain Injuries, Switzerland, and the new Children’s Hospital (Kinderspital Zürich), Switzerland were used to illustrate “designing for adaptability – how to minimize the amount of materials that can’t be modified in the future. “Visual impact is an important element, but social impact is intrinsic to sustainable design,” she said.

F19-Lacaton-476.jpgAnne Lacaton (left) presented how “Never demolish, always transform” is at the heart of the design process of Lacaton & Vassal including the renovation program of more than 500 dwellings in the Cité du Grand Parc in Bordeaux, France originally constructed in the early 1960s. The renovation strategy not only extends the usable lifespan of the building, but also delivers multilayered social, aesthetic and economic benefits. “The existing building is tomorrow’s new building material,” she said.

To conclude the series of keynote addresses, Francis Kéré reflected on the theme “Embed know-how” including examples from his work building a school in his birthplace village of Gando, Burkina Faso. He advocated education, learning from history, and making information more accessible – as key components of ensuring success. “We need to deconstruct preconceived ideas – embracing innovation and locally-sourced materials,” he said.

The Forum continued with an introduction to four concurrent working groups: Changing paradigms (materials for a world not yet built); Shifting the flows, pulling the strings (stocks, flows, and their dynamics); From manual to digital and vice versa (digitalization, labor, and construction); and Catch 22 (Material needs versus material impact).

Last Updated: April 04, 2019
Article Details
Cairo, Egypt
Related Information
Related News
Being less bad is simply not good enough
Being less bad is simply not good enough

Day Three, the final day, of the 6th International Holcim Forum commenced with the continuation of the four workshops on themes of Changing…

Related News
Rethinking the building materials cycle
Rethinking the building materials cycle

Day Two of the 6th International Holcim Forum set sustainable construction in the local context beginning with a keynote address by Laila…

Holcim Foundation

Search Help

Our website search engine covers the web pages including project descriptions and expert profiles, PDFs, images and videos on the Holcim Foundation website. To improve your search results, here are some tips:

Basic search

Our search defaults to term-pairing AND. If you search sustainable construction - then the search engine will look for any items containing sustainable AND construction


photovoltaic OR solar

Looks for either word


(clay OR mud) AND (school OR university)

Combine alternative terms for more specific searching


geothermal -heating

Excludes a term from results, automatically ANDs other terms listed


"zero carbon"

Use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase or combination

Wildcards (one or more characters)


Asterisk (*) matches any word or phrase - so archit* will find architect, architecture, architectural as well as architrave