the world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

Sign up now to save and organize your favorite architecture projects

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

Find the most inspiring products in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

i

All over the world, architects are finding cool ways to re-use run-down old buildings. Click here to see the best in Refurbishment Architecture.

Want to see the coolest refurbishment projects? Click here.

i

Immerse yourself in inspiring buildings with our selection of 360 videos. Click here.

See our immersive, inspiring 360 videos. Click here.

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
Navigate articles using your keyboard
  1. ArchDaily
  2. News
  3. Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design

Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design

Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design
Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design, Top: Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Middle: School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Bottom: Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group
Top: Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Middle: School Library Gando / Kere Architecture. Bottom: Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group

The following article is presented by Materials, ArchDaily's new US product catalog.

How many times in the last year have you heard 3d printing mentioned? What about double-skinned curtain walls or “smart” buildings? High-tech materials almost always seem to dominate the conversation - at least in architectural circles. But using the latest invention in material technology usually does not make a building “innovative.” More often than not, it just makes it expensive and flashy. 

Low-tech materials like lumber, stone and brick, on the other hand, are often overlooked, even though the use of local and locally produced materials offers the lowest possible carbon footprint. And while these common materials may seem boring, with a bit of imagination and technical skill, an architect can transform these materials into something fresh. With that in mind, check out three truly innovative projects which use low-tech materials in different and exciting ways.

School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture

In Burkina Faso, Kere Architects worked with the local village to create a school library. Clay pots were used as a roofing material, allowing light to pass through and air to circulate. The second material is eucalyptus wood, which is normally used for firewood in Gando, the city where the project is located. These simple transformations created a place where children have a shaded and ventilated space for learning.

Clay Pots Embedded In The Roof Of The Gando School Library Create A Beautiful Low Tech Dappled Light Effect. School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kere Architecture
Clay Pots Embedded In The Roof Of The Gando School Library Create A Beautiful Low Tech Dappled Light Effect. School Library Gando / Kere Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kere Architecture

School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kere Architecture School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kere Architecture School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kere Architecture School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kere Architecture + 17

Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students

In Mozambique, students from the Bergen School of Architecture designed an educational building that is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. In the project, bottles replaced expensive windows and straw was used for outdoor rooms. The only “traditional” form of construction was reinforced concrete walls, which were used to house computers and keep them safe from burglars. The highlight of the project is a rainwater collecting roof and cistern made from corrugated iron sheets. All of this was achieved for under $8,500 USD.

Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Image © Tord Knapstad
Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Image © Tord Knapstad

Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Image © Bror Hansen Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Image © Stine Bjar Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Image © Ina Bakka Sem-Olsen Recycled Bottles Used For Windows Rather Than Expensive Glass. Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Image © Olafia Zoëga + 17

Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group

In Kigali, Rwanda MASS design group designed Umubano Primary School into the natural topography of a hillside. Local artisans and craftsman were used throughout the process because of their local material knowledge. To limit transportation costs and engage local markets, papyrus reeds and brick were used - rather than sourced from the outside. This manufacturing and harvesting of local resources kept money within the community, spurring the local economy.

Using Local Brick To Cut Down On Transportation Costs And Employ Local Artisans. Image © Iwan Baan
Using Local Brick To Cut Down On Transportation Costs And Employ Local Artisans. Image © Iwan Baan

Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan Using Local Brick To Cut Down On Transportation Costs And Employ Local Artisans. Image © Iwan Baan Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan + 17

These three projects show us how local, common materials can become more than the sum of their parts. The materials even act as economic stimulants that provide jobs in production, manufacturing, making and building. What’s more, in all of these projects, the building integrates with the local culture and becomes a part of the place and people, standing as more than just an object. Locals, artisans and craftsman take pride in their work and that is what creates timeless, beautiful, low-tech architecture. 

Interested in more Materials? Check out our new US product catalog Materials.

Cite: Andrew Galloway. "Three Projects That Transform Low-Tech Materials Into Innovative Design" 11 Jun 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/514677/three-projects-that-transform-low-tech-materials-into-innovative-design/> ISSN 0719-8884
Read comments
Top: Educational Building In Mozambique / Bergen School of Architecture Students. Middle: School Library Gando  / Kere Architecture. Bottom: Umubano Primary School / MASS Design Group

三个将低技材料转换成创新设计的项目