Orlando Espinosa: two decades of MCR technology transfer
Lunch at the Cafe del Jardin in Old Havana...
Orlando Espinosa recently sat down to lunch with us in the Jardin del Oriente in Old Havana, an ideal place to look back on some of the EcoSur experiences of the past two decades. Orlando is perhaps the person with the widest technology transfer experience in the EcoSouth Network, leaving behind functioning workshops and adroit tile-makers throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia.
by Kathryn Pozak
Orlando is something of a wandering minstrel for the technology of micro-concrete roofing tiles (MCR) and has set foot on most continents. Not only does he know tile-making inside-out, he was closely involved in the development of tevi equipment and moulds. His teaching skills and organizational talents facilitate the lauching of workshops as well as updating and polishing the skills of project directors and professionals.
When we asked Orlando about his most outstanding experience there was no hesitation. Tajikistan! He spent close to two years there in reconstruction projects after the civil war. During this time he was able to polish up the Russian lhe earned during his studies in Odessa.
In Tajikistan he set up 6 micro-concrete tile workshops to roof houses for refugees returning from Afghanistan. "The conditions were difficult, but the people were wonderful," he enthusiastically declared. And, he discovered that women were the better tile makers. Their diligence and attention to detail resulted in excellent tiles.
A mechanical engineer at CECAT (Center for Studies in Construction and Tropical Architecture), in the early nineties of the past century, Orlando was selected to be on the team that undertook the challenging endeavor to develop tile-making equipment.
It is to be remembered that this occurred during the "special period" in Cuba when resources were scarce. However, CECAT´s visionary director, Dr. Ruben Bancrofft, recognized MCR to be a roofing solution for the housing deficit in the country.
Orlando continues his dedication to the technology and continues to inspire the upcoming generation of young engineers, architects and other professionals. Some of these young professionals have been part of the EcoSur team participating in reconstruction after last years´s earthquake in Haiti.