Studio Visit: Critical Concrete
We have known and followed the work of Samuel Kalika and his incredible Critical Concrete project in Porto for three years. This October, on our way to the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, we finally had the opportunity to visit the studio. Samuel and his team enjoyed their vacation at the time. Another intensive Summer School was recently concluded, and another family home was renovated in Critical Concrete’s signature participatory manner: their work aims for Building with, rather than Building for.
Renovating the houses of low income families is the way in which this practice chooses to respond to the current pressures of the real-estate market. Critical Concrete has the contemporary spatial challenges of Porto written in its DNA: when the practice was established in 2015 as a new educational and social initiative eager to bring thinkers and makers into a common creative space, it was difficult to find a place for it. Faced with a problem of finding a roof under which to put their new project, Samuel Kalika (Critical Concrete’s founder) and Juliana Trentin (first project coordinator) decided to address it in their future practice.
Four years after Critical Concrete was launched, it is evident that it has lived up to the original idea. The studio has successfully organized four international Summer Schools and has, within each of them, completed an important reconstruction project. The result of last year’s summer practice was a renovation of Maria Lurdes, Joaquim and Laura’s House in Porto. Each of the summer schools is an opportunity to apply the knowledge on sustainable building techniques acquired through research on topics such as green roofs, sustainable insulation and wall reinforcement, which Critical Concrete publishes in their detailed online guides and shares with the general audience of current and future DIY builders.
Still, there’s much more to Critical Concrete life than these summer affaires: throughout the year, lots of experimenting and hands-on work happens at Co-Lateral production center, established three years ago in collaboration with the local municipality. The space is currently under construction; if you happen to be in Porto, you can get involved in the ongoing works and then convert the working hours you invested into privileges for using the space, equipped for work with wood and metal, for your own practice.
By giving everyone an opportunity to participate in their own capacity, to contribute and share knowledge and resources, Critical Concrete inspires and creates a space for imagining a different way of city-making. Local energy and international expertise, (re)building homes and knowledge together: an original story of Porto!
Rua direita de Francos 1024, 4250-192 Porto
Founder Samuel Kalika
Photo by Critical Concrete