Critical Concrete Summer School
2016, Oporto, Portugal
Team: Warehouse + Patrick Hubmann
Partner: Critical Concrete
With: Rúben Teodoro
Collaborators: Philippa Schuurman, Marcello Corradi, Saskia De Fabritiis, David Zatloukal, Sonia Ralston, Francesca Rausa, Rita Almeida, Alexander Mehren, Filipa Ferreira, Mariano Cuofano, Dalila Gianpietro, Bryn Martin, Connor Arms, Barbara Arita, Luana Bergamo, Victoria Greenman, Julia Azevedo, João Oliveira, Patricia Jeglitsch, Juliana Trentin, Marylene San, Samuel Kalika.
Critical Concrete is an organization based in Oporto, which is developing a sustainable model for the rehabilitation of social housing through participatory and collaborative processes. The first action and experience was the organization of a Summer school with a 3 weeks program. This was an hybrid program composed of a strong practical component complemented with lectures with the presentation of projects in the social, artistic, cultural and sustainable fields of architecture and art.
Through a partnership with the parish council of Bonfim, Critical Concrete identified earlier a house within a social housing program in need of a deep transformation to improve basic living conditions.
This social housing configuration is a typical Ilha (island) house that emerged in the city of Porto in the late 19th century for the working class residents. Long and narrow, the house occupies an area of 37m² in addition to a small front yard, a terrace, and a 35m² backyard. Before the refurbishment, this house lacked of basic living conditions such as running water, insulation, and sanitary facilities.
In the three weeks summer school, tutored by Colectivo Warehouse and Patrick Hubmann, it was intended to give a deep refurbishment to the house creating conditions for the participants to learn and experiment while doing it.
After the 3 weeks workshop, plus some extra energy from the organization, tutors and friends, Sr.Alfredo’s house was finished and the key returned to him. Now, the house has a living room, a kitchen, an insulated bedroom, one bathroom, running water, proper sewage and electricity. The hard work and creativity from the students, tutors, and friends contributed to the final results.
As tutors of a group with more then twenty participants from all over the world, Colectivo Warehouse teamed up with Patrick Hubmann to address two main issues. The first one was to find a constructive solution that could be implemented in the 3 weeks Summer school providing the necessary improvement to enhance the living conditions. The second issue was to assure that the unexperient participants could manage to design and experiment new configurations and spaces for the house, with the certainty of being able to implement this constructive system by their own hands.
A New Constructive Concept
To achieve these goals, the team developed and tested in the first days a prototype in 1:1 scale, of a modular insulated system composed by wood walls, floor and ceiling. This system was part of a larger concept based on the idea of insulated boxes that create each individual space of the house, providing also for plumbing, electricity and natural light.
As this house had many complex problems in the preexisting outer shell, that would not be able to be solved in the 3 week workshop, this solution identify the basic areas of the house that needed to be protected and insulated, and the ones that couldn’t be. Meanwhile, for a more eficient answer the team started to develop models and 3D models of the house to assure the best layout possible for the future spaces.
All of this tests, solutions and possibilities were developed with the participants, in a close relation with the budget, the preexisting materials and Sr.Alfredo’s ways of living in his own house.
Intense Learning and Practical Experimentation
This 20-plus team was organized in smaller teams that had to work all together creating responsibles for each specific space or area in the house. This way, from the demolition, to the design, construction and finishings, the participants were able to get involved in all stages of this demanding refurbishment. These efforts allowed the participants to feel completely engaged and motivated on their tasks due to the freedom of coming up with their own innovative solutions.
Throughout several hours of design and thinking, some daily research, exchanging of ideas between more then 20 people and the support of the tutors, these ideas were put to the test in a practical exercise with great responsibility.
design by WAREHOUSE