It is understood by Bioconstruction as the way of building that favors the evolutionary processes of every living being as well as biodiversity guaranteeing the balance and sustainability of future generations.
The technique allows to build houses and buildings with land and seeks to reduce the environmental impact; it is taught at the national University of Córdoba and there are postgraduate courses at the UBA
Bioconstruction appears today as a concrete response to the energy crisis and the need to mitigate climate change. It is about making homes and buildings that by their design and materials reduce environmental pollution as much as possible. It is built with mud, straw, wood and reused materials. Bioclimatic designs are implemented, which reduces energy consumption for heating or cooling. Technology is used to recover rainwater, also to reuse it, treat waste and harness the energy of the sun. And it’s also cheaper.
” The great challenge is to make more accessible the knowledge and application of bioconstruction in cities, ” says architect Armando Gross, director of the Bioconstruction Workshop of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism of the UNC. There they teach it in the context of Permaculture, a broader discipline that promotes ways of life and creation of human habitat in harmony with the environment, in a sustainable way, that allows successive generations to remain on the Earth without degrading it. “This architecture is successful in rural areas. But in the city there are obstacles related to ignorance, on the one hand, and the interests of conventional industry, on the other,” he says.
Gross points out that the impediments are neither technical nor economic. He explains that seismic-resistant structures can be made (in fact most of the architecture with earth in the country is in seismic zone) and calculates that up to 20% can be saved in the total cost of the work. The most common techniques are adobe, compacted earth (walls) and lattices, which are quinchas or systems with wood filled with soil and natural fibers with earth plaster. One of the systematized techniques that Gross implements is the replacement of the quincha by bales of cortadera, a plant species that grows throughout the country and when it is cut, it does not die, but regenerates.
With regard to the environmental cost, he stressed the unsustainable nature of the current mode of construction. In the Bioconstruction Workshop of the UNC they do the exercise of going backwards in the production chain of the materials: bricks, cement, concrete, synthetic paints, plastics. In addition to the energy costs and pollution generated by these processes, they come from non-renewable resources.
In central buildings of the city of Córdoba, Gross together with the architect Marcelo Lange began to replace the molones of telgopor of the slabs by bales of cortadera. ” It is a decision of the professional, there is no problem with the regulation, ” explained Lange, who is part of Cadepyme, a chamber that brings together small and medium-sized urban developers. “It works very well. It is more economical, does not gather bugs and serves the same function.”
From North to South
From Jujuy to Patagonia, there are bioconstruction experiences linked to the development of Permaculture, social habitat, education, public spaces and tourism. In the Quebrada de Humahuaca there are from state housing plans to boutique cabins, such as Los Colorados, in Purmamarca, designed by the architect Carlos Antoraz. In Tucumán, the Regional Research Center of Raw Earth Architecture of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the National University has its own building built with this technique, in which architects and civil engineers of that house of studies intervened.
In Mendoza, a chapel built with earth is part of the wine tourist circuit. It is the Chapel of Gratitude, of the Salentein winery, in the Uco Valley. And to the south, in Río Negro, Jorge Belanko, master of the technique, trains and directs groups of people who build their houses and other spaces, such as a kindergarten in El Bolsón, built by the parents and teachers themselves.
Inés Donato, pioneer architect of bioconstruction in Córdoba, demonstrates that it is possible to build and inhabit sustainable houses for 10 years. She lives in the eco-neighborhood Villa Sol, in Salsipuedes. There, the Pro-Eco San Miguel Foundation, of which it is a part, designed a neighborhood that today occupies 7.5 hectares in a mountain environment and has 30 houses made with bioarchitecture. In addition to reducing environmental impact, Donato highlights health benefits. “A house on land has the right level of humidity because the material absorbs the excess water in the environment and long if it is too dry; it keeps the humidity at 50 percent, which is what the human being needs, ” he explains.
Donato integrates the Institute of Sustainable Architecture (IAS) of the College of Architects of Córdoba, which works together with INTI in the development of a bioconstruction manual. “What is missing is full validation of the systems. And above all, an industry linked to natural construction, ” he says.
Rodolfo Rotondaro, referring to the architecture of earth, a technique to which is dedicated the past 30 years, understands that public policies are needed habitat that include the bio as an option, and the development of the rules of the Argentine Institute of Standardization and Certification (IRAM) for components, elements and building systems.
“Despite the fact that Argentina has more than eight centers specialized in construction with land and that the problems of sustainability and housing deficit are known to all, in universities the need to include these techniques within the careers is still not fully understood. Quite possibly, in more than one case, by disinformation; in others, by express disinterest”, warns the architect.
For Rotondaro, a professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism (Fadu) and researcher of the Conicet, there are three factors which prevent bio is massive: the lack of advanced standards, the prejudices that still remain and which is not part of the construction market.