Boris Lefevre, Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Paris, France
Productive Architecture: Can architecture help to empower marginalized communities as an economic & social development tool, allowing its users to reaffirm a common identity?
Like Cerro de Pasco, the existence of a large part of the South American mining cities derives directly from the need for a significant workforce presence. Thousands of families, sometimes against their will, sometimes in search of a better future, settled there for the unique purpose of putting their energy in the service of a single economic activity. The mine, a predominant production tool, then tended to give the inhabitants a feeling of a common identity, and to legitimize their presence in territories, which were sometimes very hostile. However, the mechanization of mining techniques now leads to a significant decline in the proportion of local workers in mining activity. Like Cerro de Pasco, some of these cities continue to grow, but they are going through deep identity and social crises, which are accentuated by worrying economic, sanitary and environmental issues.Cerro de Pasco? (PDF, 6.58 MB) »
Four prizes were awarded in the increasingly popular Next Generation category for students and professionals up to 30 years. This category seeks visionary projects and bold ideas, and gives young professionals public exposure and a platform to gain recognition. For the first time in the history of the LafargeHolcim Awards, more projects were submitted in the Next Generation category than in the main category. The first and the third Next Generation prizes went to teams from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina. In first place were Stefano Romagnoli, Juan Cruz Serafini, and Tomás Pont Apóstolo, with a large-scale plan to harness tidal energy on the coast of Punta Loyola, Argentina. Their colleagues Ángela Ferrero, María Augustina Nieto, María Belén Pizarro, Seizen Uehara, and Lucía Uribe Echevarria were awarded for their Service Point Towers, with which they plan to offer services mainly for underprivileged residents of Latin American cities. The second prize went to Boris Lefevre from France. In Cerro de Pasco in Peru, he aims to unite two incompatible functions in one building: sewage treatment and public baths. The fourth prize went to Alejandro Vargas Marulanda, Daniel Felipe Zuluaga Londoño, and Iojann Restrepo García from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín, Colombia, for their design for flexible-use telecommunication towers in their city.Read more »
Located in a contaminated body of water – formerly known as “the lake to drink” – in the city of Cerro de Pasco in Peru, the new construction offers the unpretentious need to inhabitants for washing themselves in clean, potable water. Combining a sewage treatment plant with baths and 400 shower cabins, the design is treated as a well-crafted and beautifully designed monument in the lake, albeit one satisfying basic functions desperately needed by the city population. The project’s ambition to provide both clean water as well as a place to bathe is a response to the wasteful use of an existing resource by ruthless industrial exploitation. Though poetic in its architectural expression, the design’s political message cannot be overlooked, namely, to treat both the natural environment and humans with greatest respect.Read more » Más información (Spanish) »
Architecture as an ethical position: a social response to a deeply symbolic context
Cerro de Pasco, mining town in the Andes founded in the 16th Century, has grown on a mineral deposit. Since the 1950s, an open pit mine is devouring the city from the inside. It has already destroyed a large part of the historical center, and will keep growing as long as Western society expands.
The combination of industry and public baths (which have always been symbols of a city within the city, in the Roman tradition as well as in the Inca tradition) makes sense. It’s an allegorical response to the deeply symbolic form of the city. Cerro de Pasco has always been closer to a factory than a city. People only live there to produce. The project questions this urban model. It offers an alternative to the productivist city of “living next to”: a city of “living together”.
Architecture as an ecosystem: a sustainable response to a deeply contaminated context
The lake where the project takes place is currently the wastewater receptacle of the city. The project, in addition to purifying water for the city, allows users to take a hot shower or hot bath. Water is heated with natural gas, thanks to an integrated methanisation system using wastes from the treatment, as well as agricultural wastes. Local farmers can exchange their wastes for natural fertilizers, produced by the methanisation process. During most of the year, the project can be reached by walking. But during the rainy periods, the water level increases, generating an informal (boat transportation) economy to access the building. Local peasant and informal economy are boosted, and the “lake to drink”, is once again a source of water for the city.
Architecture as a protection: an empathetic response to a deeply threatening context
The project offers the inhabitants a place to wash themselves, essential step towards a more dignified life. It gives back to the inhabitant their right to access water, to benefit from the natural resources of their country, which are monopolized by the mining company. It also allows them to escape their daily routine for a moment. At 4350m asl, in a city where life is rough, it allows a moment of respite. Crossing the lake and then the thickness of the building boundaries would lead into a unique space: a city within the city – a place where all the senses are stimulated and where social interactions can be reinvented. Standing against the mining company and its productivist vision of the city, the building embodies the collective in the territory.See more
Boris Lefevre’s public baths and sewage treatment plant are all about improving the future. The project for hybrid …
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