critical concrete collaborated with escola superior artistica porto (ESAP) to teach a post-graduate course that combines theory and hands-on practical experience titled sustainable-sustainable architecture (SSA). the post-graduate started as a natural evolution to the summer schools run by the organization from 2016 to 2019. each year young practitioners from all over the world would collaboratively design and renovate social housing for those in need.
all images courtesy of critical concrete
students and mentors getting hands-on construction experience on site
critical concrete announced their first generation of graduates from the post-graduation program jointly offered with the escola superior artistica porto (ESAP). throughout 2 semesters, students have enjoyed a learning experience consisting of online lectures – held by international experts in their respective fields, and 6 weeks of hands-on workshops in porto, portugal. the SSA continues this vital work through construction workshops integrated into the course structure alongside modules delivered online.
making bespoke furniture for the social house renovation
the course explored topics like vernacular architecture, public participation, and sustainable development. through practical assignments, the students applied this knowledge in their immediate environments, such as testing the properties of their local earth or conducting ethnographic ‘field work’ in a public space. this year students renovated a modest social housing unit in esposende, using natural construction techniques. they got hands-on building a timber roof structure, insulating the house with cork panels, and cladding the façade with charred timber. they were taught methods that aren’t typically taught in architecture schools.
students and mentors at a participatory design session designing a small social house in esposende, portugal
critical concrete and ESAP gathered a range of experts in sustainable construction, engagement, participation, and ecological urbanism to deliver interactive online courses. the course ranges from the pioneering to the ancient; two modules delved into earth construction – a method that is seeing a resurgence due to its hyper-sustainable credentials. moreover, students were introduced to raw earth construction in the first semester and subsequently applied this knowledge building a rammed earth floor and bench with hanno burtscher in the second-semester workshop. working together with critical concrete as an NGO diversifies the learning experience. this hybrid dynamic gets out of a strictly academic environment and students have the chance to apply the theory in the real world.
working collaboratively on site
the program is unique because it encourages people from different disciplines to engage and actively collaborate between diverse fields of knowledge. this way, students with backgrounds in humanities, design, urban planning, and architecture work on developing innovative sustainable strategies, where they each contribute with their own expertise. helena, a student, said her ‘favorite part of this course is being able to connect with so many different backgrounds, different people, different concepts, new solutions’.
determining the properties of earth during a workshop
empowerment has been a recurring theme throughout the course. it equipped the graduates with the tools to progress into sustainable fields and broaden their impact in the built environment and further. applications are currently open for the 2021/22 academic year, which will see the continuation of their hybrid theoretical-practical educational model. they encourage applications from a wide range of backgrounds and individuals interested in sustainable urban development, low-tech construction, and social justice. the deadline is 13th august and early applications are encouraged as spaces are limited.
all hands on deck: unloading timber for the cladding structure
cork insulation is highly effective and low impact. it’s clad it with charred timber for natural protection from moisture, fire and rot
the beautiful roof structure during construction
students got comfortable with power tools and took ownership of tasks and responsibilities on site
building furniture without the use of screws requires precision and teamwork
during a participatory design session, students worked alongside the inhabitant to quickly cycle through designs and ideas
working with existing buildings that often require renovation of existing stone structures
name: sustainable-sustainable architecture post-graduation
edited by: yasmina karam | designboom