( Miquel Ramis)
The history of construction is perhaps the most neglected
resource in history of humanity. In the same way that
we have forgotten that the word " carretera "
means "cart-way", or that the Pope's title
of " Pontifex" comes from "bridge builder"
, we are increasingly deaf towards the experience our
Let's imagine inheriting of a block of gold composed
of 4500 layers . . and being concerned only with the
thin, upper last layer, but not caring about the others
The structure of contemporary civilization is cement
and steel . This is a technology barely 100 years old,
yet we have 4500 years of building experience, mostly
by autonomous builders, who have resolved almost every
possible problem that we might have or dream of having.
The thin upper layer is there because past generations
of builders provided the necessary foundation to reach
The bad news is that this thin cementitious layer is
cracking. Cement does not stand the test of time. Nor
does steel , at least not our current corrugated rebar.
The good news is that the massive foundation of building
knowledge is available for us to review and learn from
with our wider vision and experience.
Much of this knowledge is written not on paper, but
Archaeologists were enabled to decipher hieroglyphic
writing by reading the Rosetta stone. The understanding
of the stonework of the extensive past enables us to
read the History of Construction.
La palabra "mens" obviamente está
representada por un sabio barbudo leyendo un libro.
Resulta destacable que hayan elegido a un herrero
como símbolo de "manus".
Este es el enfoque del aprendizaje constructivista,
el "aprender haciendo" que comparten
MIT, Cambridge o Artifexbalear.
The concept mens, or mind, is represented
by a bearded wise man reading a book. Interestingly,
a blacksmith was chosen (we might have preferred
a mason) to depict manus, or hand.
This seal illustrates the constructivist
learning or active learning approach shared by
MIT- Cambridge and Artifexbalear: "learning
Miguel Ramis presenta en el ARTIFEX Workshop al Profesor Yung Ho Chang, jefe del departamento de Arquitectura del
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), antes de que este imparta su conferencia en el workshop "Stonemasonryh in Context"
Miguel Ramis introduces Prof Yung Ho Chang, Head from the Departament of Architecture of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
to the students before his Conference in the workshop "Stonemasonry in Context")
Yung Ho Chang from MIT, presented
some of his ideas and latest projects. An architect
who is aware of a rich historical heritage, he
tries to bridge the gap between past and present
and to find new uses for, and combinations of,
In his interview for the University of Valencia
Televisión he mentioned that "...there
is a certain level of idealism in this workshop
that defies the status quo of Architecture. .
. students may forget that, although Architecture
is based on design, it is still deeply rooted
in tangibility....this workshop poses some interesting
questions about whether Architecture is a metaphysical,
intellectual experience or something still tangibly
related to Craft."
Lecture. Art as a tool for substainable design.
Luis Berrios-Negrón 15jun
Today, the point where creativity emerges from
nature is as elusive as ever. The role of creativity
and production is at the threshold of an abrupt
but necessary reconfiguration that will transform
the way we initiate the very formulation of an
idea. Embodied energies and environmental footprints
can no longer be ignored when objects, instruments,
artifacts, systems and/or dwellings are produced.
New processes of research, design and development
must be developed in order for us to adapt to
the new economic and resource demands of the future.
These solutions cannot, however, come from broad
overarching ideologies, but from specific, tactical,
collaborative innovations that formulate and transform
aut onomous cultures of production. Berríos-Negrón
presented several examples of his works and workshops
that conceptually address these issues while contextualizing
how Artifex Balear is already part of these solutions.
(more info: www.luisberriosnegron.org).
Lecture: Masonry shells as a contemporary building
Michael Ramage 15jun
Throughout the history of humanity, masonry shells
have been one of the commonest forms of shelter.
Then, relatively recently, beams and shells of
cement appeared, enabling quick and strong construction
techniques that did not require workers with high
levels of skill . Now we are at a juncture where
craft, substainability, individual initiative
and design make masonry shells once again a feasible
, low energy, contemporary approach to building.
Carbon home unveiled in Kent
of Cambridge: current research
Miguel Ramis 16-25/6
- Rules, Tools , Safety.
- Mediterránean Design
- Arches and Vaults: constructive solutions
- Sustainable Urbanism
- Errors in Contemporary Building: Technical strengths
/ weaknesses of materials . (or: strength/weakness
- Dry Stone Techniques
- Wattle & Daub, Tapial, Bamboo.
The history of construction is a sadly neglected
resource . Think about a person living in the
present and planning his or her future based only
on information gained from the experiences of
the previous week ? This, crazy as it sounds,
is what we do—disregarding 4,500 years of
well-proven solutions to rely only on portland
and corrugated iron, materials that have already
proven unsure beyond 50 years.
In order to change to a substainable future we
must review those techniques and materials that
have proven reliable. Stone, brick, earth, and
lime, together with wood are solutions with utmost
compatibility with us. Like our bodies, they drink,
dry and breathe, and return to the nature when
their natural cycle is over.
In order to change to a substainable future we
must review those techniques and materials that
have proven to be reliable. Stone, brick, earth,
and lime, together with wood are solutions with
utmost compatibility with us. Like our bodies,
they drink, dry and breathe, and return to the
nature when its natural cicle is over.
For more info
Retrospective and projects.
Tatiana, an architect from Mexico, presented
a comprehensive retrospective of her work and
a personal account of how clients, circumstances
and inner dreams had shaped her career. Her country,
with its urban tesitures built by the people themselves,
offers interesting examples of self organisation,
some more successful than others, but all showing
the energy of a bustling country.
The last part of her lecture was dedicated to
the house for the Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco,
a very interesting example of architect-client
One of the most astonishing projects presented
at the workshop, Phillippe's proposal for a tripodal,
non-mortared masonry vault captured the attention
of all the atendees.
His research has led him to design a new computerized
analytical method for three-dimensional vaults.
Thus, complex forms can be approached and studied
in the design process, opening the door for exciting
new vaulting projects.
Curator Carson Chan talked
about sustainability and architecture as seen
by artists, how they envisage and analyze the
evolution and future of building processes.
Lukas Feireiss, curator, teacher
and writer, presented several examples of contemporary
design extracted from his several books giving
a sense of the scope of what's happening at the
forefront of architecture today .
Juan Herreros, a leading spanish
architect, spoke about the urge of creation beyond
historical references, one of the motors of his
Speaking about the island, he mentioned that
dry stone walls were one of the most important
patrimonies and a keystone the configuration of
Professor Santiago Huerta Professor
Santiago Huerta from ETSAM, (Architecture
School of Madrid) presented a interactive explanation
of the behaviour of arches and vaults, based on
years of investigation and analysis on historical
structures in danger or collapse.
A follower and friend of Jacques Heyman, he gave
a passionate speech about how important historical
buildings are, not just for our culture but as
a source of learning about building techniques.
He is a firm believer in the use of traditional
building methods to restore old buildings because
these methods are the only ones that fully guarantee
that the buildings will survive in the future.
He also explained that the decision to use contemporary
materials and techniques , instead of healing
old structures, could actually damage them.
His concern about the last "invention"
in the field - intervención preventiva-
causes a serious issue: perfectly sound buildings
with minor problems are being "restored"
in the name of "preventing" them from
decaying, most of the times with doubtful methods
Alfonso Ramirez Ponce from the
Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM ) has for
many years explored low-cost and sustainable construction
techniques using regional materials such as clay
brick in projects built throughout Latin America.
He currently lectures at UNAM and has been an
invited professor in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia,
Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Uruguay,
Singapore, Italy and Spain. He is the author and
co-author of more than 200 articles and several
books on architecture.
His research and several of his projects have
won diverse awards, including the "Armando
Mestre Medal" in Cuba, and the First Prize
in the "Competition for the Technology Transfer
for Popular habitat" organized by CYTED.
He is also a member of the "Academia Nacional
de Arquitectura", and the "National
System of Art and Culture Creators" of México.
Enrique Rabasa Diaz, Enrique
Rabasa Diaz from ETSAM (Architecture School of
Madrid) presented a survey of the art of Stereotomy,
a treasury of solutions for gravity construction
extracted from dusty renaissance treatises including
clever combinations of arch voussoirs and corbels
that died with the portland cement and rebar.
Decades later, they are a sound, proven alternative
for substainable building.
Eduardo Ramos was the voice
of a new type of builder, one concerned with sustainability
and impact on local economy.
He explained how he makes a geo-biological survey
prior to any building or restoration, how he selects
the materials according to their ecological footprints,
the demolition procedures that recover old elements
for reuse at the same site.
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