New ideas for new constructions!

Ganadores ConcursoAt this time we lance the Project competition for 2009. And, our memory takes us back to the third international EcoMaterials conference in 2005, when the EcoSur Network organized a competition of projects in two categories.

Among the 43 works presented 5 were selected in each category for a second round and the winners were invited to the conference to present their work. Fabiana Zapata of Venezuela and the duo of Fernando Martín and Francisco Botella of Spain were the winners and presented their work at the conference in Cuba, and during an evening fiesta with everyone they received their trophies.

It was a Project to build a habitat for fishermen in the Paraguana peninsula in Venezuela, a design integrated with the natural environment, traditional constructive customs, nature, and the tasks of the fishermen. We quote from her presentation:

"The proposal departs from the need to explore the non-urban landscapes, virgin spaces little explored by humanity, and check out ancient construction techniques and traditional materials in order to give them a new form of appreciation and use, to explore an Architecture that with the march of the years has been lost, to open the way to new technologies of contemporaneous construction.

An investigation developed around such themes as climate, vegetation, location, winds, traditional construction materials, foreign influences, architectonic uses, needs of the inhabitants, leading to develop a specific theme for the fishermen of the zone.

As it is a coastal zone timber and earth are the materials most used, these same materials having been used in Colonial Architecture of the region, thus the use of adobe and wooden posts and beams are the fundamental base for the development of the proposal.

Designs sought an ecological architecture with materials of the area, in this manner achieving a conceptualization of the Colonial Architecture of Paraguana and the quantity of coastal influences it has had."

Fernando and Francisco building
Together with Higinio Estébanez, who was not able to be present in Santa Clara, they designed and constructed a community centre for a women´s association in Opti, Mali: 

"The program of the building responds to the activities and workshops carried out by the women of the association to earn their livings, with space for teaching activities and living quarters of private habitations with sanitary installations. As the principal activity is the restaurant, the patio is occupied to function as an eating area, as well as part of the terrace which has views of the landscape that surround Mopti.

We have sought to respect to the maximum the traditional constructive techniques of the zone, inherited from Sudanese architecture, as it is the best adapted to the climatic conditions and to the resources of the zone. In Mopti people consider that building with adobe is not endurable and of little quality. Nevertheless, there exists an extensive tradition of construction with adobe, and the primary material is abundant.

The adobe bricks are produced in the neighbourhood of Mopti, with earth from the Niger and rice straw, and carried to the site by local donkey transport, as was timber and earth for the mortar. Trucks were used only to bring stone, sand and gravel, as well as steel beams used in the ceiling structure that enabled economizing on traditional structural wood. On top of the steel beams thinner wood was placed to serve as a base for the clay floor of the upper level.

The foundations were made of cyclop concrete, with large blocks of local rocks and mortar and small amounts of cement. Being close to a zone with a propensity to inundations and a high ground water level, the upper part of the foundation was built of stone to avoid humidity in the walls through capillarity. To reduce the thickness of the walls, they were designed in a way to balance the inner and outer façades by means of walls perpendicular to the façade, and built with a tie beam of reinforced concrete on top of the walls. This beam allows large openings in the patio walls and, at the time, distributes the load of the steel beams with the floor evenly on the wall.

The floors were built with palm timber and a layer of compressed clay on top. Impermeability of the roofs was achieved through a layer of expansive clay, a system that is effective in the extreme climatic conditions of Mali, as the clay expands and closes the gaps when it gets wet by rain. Fired clay tiles were placed on top of this to permit public access to the top of the building.

Plastering of the walls was done in the traditional "crepissage" which is a fermented mixture of clay, sand and straw. This is being reapplied every two years, a well established custom in Mopti." 

  • Fernando Martín-Consuegra, Francisco Botella and Carlos Higinio Esteban, House for single mothers, Yeredemé, Mali



New competition
Along with the announcement of the fourth conference, EcoSur lances the competition to seek design ideas, and at the same time offer a platform for architectonic and engineering discussion. Within this platform are the bases for the competition and also documentation about the winning Projects from 2005.

EcoHabitat 2009 contest

You are here: Home Past editions Edition 33 - December 2008 New ideas for new constructions!


Peter Arndt
Social worker and Mechanical technician
German, English, Spanish
Project administration and management, social organization, mechanical innovation


Molino mezclador de lodo para ladrillos
Earth mill for fired clay bricks - electric motor
Read more ...