Page 47 - Norman Foster Foundation Re-materializing Housing Workshop
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 2021 Re-materializing Housing Workshop
Contents Report
Public Debates
Debate: First Block of Keynote Speakers
Dirk Hebel Anna Heringer Stuart Smith
Moderated by Tim Stonor
To open the first block of the Debates, moderator and chairman Tim Stonor began with the question of how to enact meaningful change in the building industry, to which Workshop mentor Dirk Hebel responded by noting the importance of valuing materials. In order to incentify communities to take care of their building structures, Hebel stated that sustainable architecture must be beautiful and that the quality of space must come with history and an identity, making the question of rematerialising housing not only a technical one, but one of relationships.
Turning to Anna Heringer, Stonor recognised that, in using natural materials, her work aims to decommercialise an industry that, today, is reliant on commercialisation. According to Heringer, although we have now delegated the act of building to experts, it is human nature to build. Similar to Hebel, her objective is to give communities a feeling of empowerment, ownership and identity, which, in turn, enhances people’s desire to take care of the built environment in the long-term.
Recognising the need for earthen materials to be used not just in rural areas, but in cities as well, thus synthesising ‘environmental’ and commercial building, Stuart Smith addressed the misconception that wood, for example, is an inherently sustainable building material. According to Smith, the release of the carbon embodied in wood structures can result in many scenarios, for which it is imperative to deeply consider the reason behind the use of a given material, where it’s coming from and where it will go at the end of its life.
In closing, Stonor turned the discussion to Laila Iskandar, who brought attention to the fact that, in Africa, people have been discouraged from using their local materials in favour of Western materials like cement, which have been imposed upon the Global South for many years, noting the difficulty and impracticality of having to suddenly reverse their way of building.
 Pictured from left to right: moderator Tim Stonor, Anna Heringer, Dirk Hebel and Stuart Smith
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