Vegetation based building methods used in Architecture for Humanity projects

Words: Kiara Pecenko

Sao Paulo university students are working with local communities to design and build temporary portable toilet blocks for use after disasters. The project, taking place in Eldorado, Brazil, is a part of the Pillars of Sustainable Education program, which sees university students undertake community-based sustainable architecture projects.

The program, run by Architecture for Humanity and the Alcoa Foundation, provides grants to universities for community-based design and construction projects with a focus on the innovative use of sustainable materials.

The projects are shared through the Open Architecture Network, where students can track their findings and progress.

Sao Paulo University students are working with Eldorado community leaders and residents in exploring and developing locally-available vegetation-based building components. Testing on the potential use of banana tree fibres is underway, as well as training locals in the production and value of these plants. The land is prone to seasonal flooding therefore students have to create sustainable solutions that will handle the elements.

The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US are planning to design, engineer and student-build a 4 to 10 unit Net Zero Energy House prototype on the outskirts of their campus. The house will be a sort of “living laboratory,” with students researching and testing the building’s sustainable features before completion.

Like many other Sunbelt cities, the community of Georgia is faced with a shift from suburban, family-home communities toward city centre, mid and high-rise housing blocks. The students plan to test sustainable building products, technologies and energy demand and production for these dwellings.

For more information go to www.pillarsofsustainableeducation.org

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