ARMAZÉM: material bank + creation lab

Applying social technology processes to lift residents from vulnerability conditions and generate income
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Designer(s) : Jeniffer Fagundes

University : Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS)

Tutor(s) : Patrícia Freitas Nerbas

There is no “throwing away”. The vast majority of natural resources are finite, meaning they cannot be regenerated or reused on a scale capable of sustaining their consumption rate. This work addresses the issue of solid waste in civil construction and textile industry, two fields that currently produce a large amount of waste and cause a big environmental impact.

The project is located in an outlying ghetto of the Brazilian city Caxias do Sul, in a community under extreme social vulnerability situations. It is an area with the issue of garbage very present, being named the “Waste City” due to garbage collection being one of the main work sources for local inhabitants.

The equipment seeks to apply social technology processes to lift these residents from their living conditions and generate income. It is configured along two main axes. The first is a material bank used to store, produce, reform and redistribute leftover raw materials from civil construction, solid waste that can be reused, and donations. The bank works with a specific focus on wood from different sources, as it is the only building material that is recyclable, renewable and biodegradable, also using little energy for its transformation. The material bank will have a space for assistance (through professionals accredited to the public entity), to provide technical guidance in the self-construction processes, common in communities with social vulnerability.

The second axe is a creation lab that exists as an alternative to adding value to the collected waste, such as truck tarpaulins, advertising banners and tire tubes, that will be transformed into new products through the upcycling technique, consisting of giving a new and better purpose to a material that would be discarded, without degrading its quality and composition.

The formal design of the building relies on maintaining the original contour lines of the land. Two parallel blocks, where the material bank takes place, were positioned on the flattest area of the land and rotated to connect them with the street in front of the loading and unloading access. Being positioned on the ground floor eases the access to the agroforestry situated in part of the land, as an alternative to producing inputs for the bank itself, while maintaining the local native flora. A third volume rests on both blocks, having the main access through the highest area of the land. This volume accommodates the creation laboratory as well as common areas.

An educational route was planned to present the steps of the processes to the visitors. The route begins in the main access, passing through the entire upper floor, being possible to see all of the ground floors through it. The end of the volume is connected to a circulation that leads to the observatory/seed bank. The observatory allows visitors to see both the entire community and the agroforestry from above. The seed bank aims to supply agroforestry while rescuing native species that are disappearing in the region.

Finally, the material library takes place next to the pedestrian/bike access from the riverside and has a collection of materials and technologies with low environmental impact. It is a proposal that seeks to enable an analysis of the sustainability (social, economic and environmental) of the most varied materials, as well as to disseminate information that is often unknown.