Summer School Practice & Theory of Sustainable and Social Architecture
On Saturday, September 4, 2016, we handed over the key to social housing resident Sr. Alfredo, which officially concluded our rehabilitation project through Critical Concrete’s educational programme.
With the help of the district municipality of Bonfim, we identified the house back in April this year. At the same time, we gathered 40 students from all over the globe to Porto to take on this exciting challenge – transforming this under-maintained house into a functioning home.
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 (for more information about this house, the history of Ilhas, and the Bonfim neighborhood, check out the previous post). Long and narrow, the house occupies an area of 37m² in addition to a small front yard, a terrace, and a 35m² backyard. Before refurbishment, this house lacked basic living conditions such as running water, insulation, and sanitary facilities.
In the three weeks working with our summer school participants and an additional two weeks of refinement with help from friends, we accomplished a lot. The house now has a living area, an insulated bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, running water and electricity. The hard work and creativity from the students, mentors, and friends all contributed to the final results.
We are not satisfied by transforming this one house, Critical Concrete is now in conversation with the district municipality about the next project. Many more of these out-of-condition houses exist in the city of Porto. Due to the lack of financial and technical support, underserved families cannot afford to maintain a healthy living environment. This summer, despite difficulties in financials, time, logistics, we saw our model of combining educational opportunities with much needed refurbishment work for low-income families function. We are eager to improve with the lessons learned, and create broader impact with more projects to come.
We are very proud of our first year graduates. We had a wonderful crowd who brought enthusiasm, curiosity, motivation, creativity, and persistent dedication. We all are very proud of what the students have achieved with us together.