Cycle of materials

Cycle of materials
Nuno Vasconcelos
Organizing the existing logistics around earth excavations and demolitions in order to re-use on a ephemeral rammed earth playground on public space.
Viseu, Portugal
Team members
Tiago Lopes
Joana Marques
Luis Seixas
Nuno Vasconcelos
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Ecology, Visual Art, Research
Project category
Material tracking and reuse
Project submitted

I'm Nuno Vasconcelos, a Portuguese freelancer architect, working with existing logistics and streams of waste materials/resources (earth excavations, demolitions, quarries waste, by-products industry…), in order to produce practical work (material research, logistics, and production) to answer the specify needs of a project.

From this practice I founded, to develop projects and ideas, working with different teams, focused on the circularity of resources and waste materials from urban context. It, results mainly in projects that pursuit sustainability (environmental, social and economical). Experimenting, testing and developing material solutions (mainly for raw earth construction). Creating circular chains on the logistics and the production, as well on the use of the material, working closely with local stakeholders.

I have been collaborating as well with different institutions on education level:
- since 2021, Royal Academy of fine Arts Antwerp, Belgium, within Expanding Academy (student assistance with Otobong Nkanga, and leading workshop);
- since 2021, Earth Laboratory from Oficinas do Convento Association in Montemor-o-novo, Portugal (educational program and leading workshops).
- 2020, GropiusBau Museum in Berlin, Germany (running during 6 months a workshop room for research on material resources from Berlin, integrated on Otobong Nkanga´s solo exhibition);
- 2019,, (research on earth excavations and demolitions resources in Berlin, logistic and production for earth materials workshop);
- 2015, 2017, 2018, "Jardins Efémeros" Multidisciplinary Arts Festival in Viseu, Portugal (under-used public spaces installations, questioning sustainability and social issues)

After living for 8 years in Berlin, where I developed my on research about earth construction (among others,; Base Habitat summer school; XII World Congress on earth Architecture Lyon 2016...), I am based now in Portugal since 2021.

The idea was to create a ephemeral intervention on public space, to bring awareness about the importance to re-thinking the cycle of materials used on construction, and the need to deal with all the waste associated to the end of life of a architectural construction.

To create this awareness, the proposal targeted younger people and children, being used although by adults as well. During almost two weeks, a rammed earth playground was installed to be used. At same time, daily workshops for schools, took place, creating with the students small sculptures using exactly the same process of earth mixing and rammed earth building, talking at same time about sustainability on the construction, natural resources and the cycle of materials.

First step was to identify places and companies working with excavations and demolitions in the city, and identify at same time, the places where those materials where taken to be dumped. This network is essencial to have those materials available when they are needed, and to reformulate the existing logistics and equipments used by those companies in order to solve a problem around the lack of prepared material to be used on raw earth construction. After this process, the construction of the sculptural rammed earth playground took place on the public space, being documented.

After the conclusion, the sculpture could be used by children and adults, giving for majority of the users the first contact to this construction technics.

This project was a starting point on ideology, to looks at excavations and demolitions in the cities, not as a waste, but as a valuable resource for raw earth construction. Avoiding this way those materials to be dumped into old quarries or land fields. At same time, allowing to be re-used again in the construction without the need of industrial transformation. This technics and raw materials contribute to reduce the embodied energy associated to the construction itself.

I'm Nuno Vasconcelos, a Portuguese freelancer architect, working with existing logistics and streams of waste materials/resources (earth excavations, demolitions, quarries waste, by-products industry…), in order …

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