Bioconstruction is understood as the way of building that favors the evolutionary processes of all living beings as well as biodiversity, guaranteeing the balance and sustainability of future generations.
The technique allows the construction of houses and buildings with earth and seeks to reduce the environmental impact; It is taught at the Córdoba National University and there are postgraduate degrees at the UBA
Green building appears today as a concrete response to the energy crisis and the need to mitigate climate change. It is about making houses and buildings that by their design and materials reduce environmental pollution to the maximum. It is built with clay, 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 take advantage of the sun's energy. And, in addition, it is cheaper.
"The great challenge is to make the knowledge and application of bio-construction more accessible in cities," says architect Armando Gross, director of the Bio-construction Workshop of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism at UNC. There they teach it in the context of Permaculture, a broader discipline that promotes life forms and the creation of human habitat in harmony with the environment, in a sustainable way, which allows successive generations to remain on 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 remarks that the impediments are not technical or economic. He explains that earthquake-resistant structures can be made (in fact most of the architecture with earth in the country is in the 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 (tapias) and lattices, which are quinchas or systems with wood filled with soils and natural fibers with earth plaster. One of the systematized techniques that Gross implements is the replacement of the quincha by bales of cutter, a plant species that grows throughout the country and when cut, it does not die, but rather regenerates.
Regarding the environmental cost, he emphasizes the unsustainable nature of the current construction mode. In the Bioconstruction Workshop of the UNC they do the exercise of going backwards in the production chain of materials: bricks, cement, concrete, synthetic paints, plastics. In addition to the energy cost and the pollution generated by these processes, they come from non-renewable resources.
In central buildings in the city of Córdoba, Gross, together with the architect Marcelo Lange, began to replace the styrofoam molds of the slabs with bundles of cutter. "It is a professional decision, there is no problem with the regulation," explained Lange, who is a member of Cadepyme, a chamber that groups together small and medium urban developers. "It works very well. It's cheaper, it doesn't collect bugs and it does the same job. "
From north to south
From Jujuy to Patagonia, bioconstruction experiences related to the development of Permaculture, social habitat, education, public spaces and also 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 Center for Raw Earth Architecture Research 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 from that study house participated.
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, a 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, a pioneer architect of bio-construction in Córdoba, demonstrates that it is possible to build and inhabit sustainable houses for 10 years. She lives in the Villa Sol eco-neighborhood, 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 mountainous environment and has 30 houses made with bio-architecture. In addition to reducing the environmental impact, Donato highlights the health benefits. “An earthen house has the right level of humidity because the material absorbs the excess water that is in the environment and removes it if it is too dry; it maintains humidity at 50 percent, which is what humans need ”, he explains.
Donato is a member of the Institute of Sustainable Architecture (IAS) of the Cordoba College of Architects, which works together with INTI in the development of a bio-construction manual. “What is lacking is the total validation of the systems. And above all, an industry linked to natural construction ”, he says.
Rodolfo Rotondaro, a reference in earthen architecture, a technique to which he has been dedicated for 30 years, understands that public habitat policies are necessary that include bio-construction as an option and the development of standards of the Argentine Institute for Standardization and Certification ( IRAM) for components, elements and construction systems.
“Despite the fact that Argentina has more than eight centers specialized in construction with land and that the problems of both sustainability and housing deficit are known to all, in universities the need to include these techniques is still not fully understood within the races. Very possibly, in more than one case, due to misinformation; in others, out of express disinterest ”, warns the architect.
For Rotondaro, a professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism (Fadu) and a researcher at Conicet, there are three more factors that prevent bioconstruction from being massive: the lack of advanced standardization, the prejudices that are still maintained and that are not part of the construction market.