Building For Uncertainties

Building for Uncertainties is developing a collaborative, frugal, and resilient strategy for designing architectural projects. Its approach addresses three challenges: using sustainable or undervalued resources in construction, ensuring that a building’s use creates minimal environmental impact, and making it possible for buildings to evolve in a future characterized by uncertainty.

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Designing construction strategies that are connected to local resources and know-how, and take into account the unpredictability of a building’s future.

Building for Uncertainties is a research project that focuses on the construction of architectural projects designed for the challenges of the 21st century.

The architects and designers are developing a building approach guided by two key concepts: frugality and resilience. Frugality involves limiting the use of resources and energies. Resilience is pursued by integrating climate, social, and economic uncertainties into the building’s structure, spaces, and uses.

Building for Uncertainties is exploring alternatives to extracted and unsustainable resources used by the construction industry. The teams map out neglected and underused resources available in the bioregion, then repurpose them in construction materials and finishings. In the Région Sud, Building for Uncertainties has identified certain agri-food industry coproducts such as rice straw, sunflower stems, and wool, as well as scraps of clay from quarries, and debris from demolition sites. These unconventional raw materials can be reconstituted into structural walls, acoustic or thermal isolation, and design finishes. These research projects are developed with the Lost Ground, Sunflower Power, and Color Geographies projects.

In order to minimize the energy consumption and waste generated by a building in use, Building for Uncertainties is conducting research into infrastructure with the aim of optimizing water, electricity, and waste management. The teams are exploring renewable energy sources (including solar panels), water recovery and treatment systems, and materials to prevent heat loss in buildings. One part of this research is focused on a system that uses algae to treat wastewater, designed in collaboration with the Algae Platform and Micro Cultures for use in Atelier LUMA’s future building, the Magasin Électrique.

Planning for the future of a building is a crucial challenge that Building for Uncertainties is approaching through a strategy of resilient design.

On the one hand, this involves creating favorable conditions for transforming buildings and their uses in the future, since buildings often need to be reinvented in unpredictable ways. In the Magasin Électrique building, spaces are intentionally unfinished and “unprogrammed,” not given predefined uses, making it possible for their functions to evolve with time.

On the other hand, Building for Uncertainties develops its projects in partnership with industry members, tradespeople, and students in the building sector, to ensure that knowledge about available resources and production techniques will be available locally in the future. The continuity of knowledge ensures that the building can be maintained over time, which contributes to its resilience. For the development of the Magasin Électrique, workshops and training sessions as well as participatory work sites punctuate the different stages of construction, in order to mutualize and transfer know-how.

Throughout the development of an architectural project, the construction and design processes are constantly in dialog and informing one another, through research, materials development, prototyping, education, and manufacturing.

Project team

  • Atelier LUMA

    Arles, France

  • BC Materials

    Brussels, Belgium

  • Assemble

    Londres, UK

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