‘A’A’ Presents LafargeHolcim Awards Prize Winners | Next Generation

ANNA HERINGER INTERVIEW ENTRETIEN You’ve been working with earth as a material for a long time. What are its advantages? I felt this passion for creating something beautiful but not without meaning. For me the missing link was the mud. The material really fosters social justice because the material is for free, and you need lots of people to build. You can build up a community while you build up a building, and also, it’s absolutely ecological. It’s the only material you can take from the ground, recycle as often as you want by just adding water and your time and your hands, and then returning it back to nature without leaving any scars. And you can plant your garden on top. For me that was this moment where I suddenly saw the two poles coming together. Tell me about the Anandaloy Building you completed in 2020 in Rudrapur, Bangladesh. We are not creating architecture just by buildings. We also shape spaces by the way we consume. Often the buildings are so far away that we don’t notice those spaces. This one is supporting that women can stay in the village and build their house out of clay and bamboo on their own. They don’t have to pay rent; they can grow vegetables around; the playground is the entire village. The women know the network. They can move around. And they lose this independence when they go and work in the factories. We wanted to have a decentralised way of producing Dipdii textiles so that the women can stay where they are. Then a sponsor was found for a building for people with disabilities, so we could combine this. We wanted to build a building that is not exclusively for one part of the society; we wanted to have something that is really celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. The symbol of inclusiveness is a ramp that kind of dances all around. That was the power of architecture to make these things immediately visible. Can you talk about your criticism of concrete as a material? During a conference for the 6th International LafargeHolcim Forum for Sustainable Construction held in Cairo, in April 2019, I asked the industry to raise the price of cement. Being so cheap is one of the reasons why it is overused. That produced mixed reactions. It’s a material that is needed for foundations and whatever, but it should be so costly that you use it in a homeopathic way and not one cubic centimeter more than is absolutely needed. Right now we have all this fear and make foundations that are double and triple as needed, because it’s so easy. We just pour it and overuse it. We should say, it’s a precious material, should be costly, and use it in the most effectively way. Whenever we can turn to something else, we should use a different material. That would be what I would hope for. “The power of architecture is to make things immediately visible” — Stephen Zacks 40-41