- Embassy Of Colombia In The United Kingdom: Adriana Sandoval
- Hempcrete Uk: Aidan Hogan
- English Translation: Francesca Perry
- Fundacion Rogelio Salmona: Maria Elvira de Salmona
- Country: United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. Two young Colombian architecture studios, Mo.Bo. and Colab-19, have designed an innovative hempcrete installation in London to pay tribute to Rogelio Salmona (1929 – 2007), arguably the most influential architect in Colombian history.
Salmona, who was trained under iconic modernist Le Corbusier and subsequently became an architectural leader in Latin America, created architecture engaged with pure geometric forms, modularity, and natural landscapes. He is known for his embrace of one building material in particular: brick. Easily accessible due to the amount of clay in and around Bogotá, red brick gradually became not just representative of Salmona’s designs, but also of the Colombian capital’s built environment and identity.
Through the installation – ‘Scale. Less: A Tribute to Rogelio Salmona’, on show at London’s Roman Road gallery in February 2022 – Colab-19 (German Bahamon and Alejandro Saldarriaga) and Mo.Bo. (Giorgio Badalacchi and Felipe Rodriguez) paid homage to Salmona’s mastery and legacy, while questioning how the architect might respond to the environmental crises of our contemporary world.
The young practices turned to the carbon-negative material hempcrete – a bio-composite material made from hemp hurds and lime – to reinterpret Salmona’s architectural principles of geometry, modularity, and landscape while proposing a more sustainable and contemporary alternative to clay bricks.
The use of hempcrete in architecture shares certain properties with bricks: hempcrete is also produced in modular, rectilinear blocks which can be stacked and combined – though these are much larger than the size of clay bricks. 72 such blocks, donated by Hempcrete UK, were used in ‘Scale. Less’ to create a stout, circular, tower-like structure.
Simulating brick’s modularity at a larger scale, the structure’s blocks are stacked in layers, spaced so that gaps are created which enable views in and out. Visitors enter through a narrow opening; inside, the structure is immersive, and a single clay brick hangs suspended on a wire in the center, as a nod to both Salmona’s architecture and the potential evolution of brick as a building material.
The stripped-back, simple yet monumental installation, celebrates the enduring legacy of Salmona and his architectural language while positioning hempcrete as a vital new material for the construction industry and designers. While Salmona offered one kind of material revolution, the use of hempcrete proposes another: one in which the building industry can actually sequester carbon, rather than emit it into the atmosphere.
We thank the Colombian Embassy in the UK and The Rogelio Salmona Foundation for making this exhibition possible.