Par.co denim was born from the idea of young entrepreneurs from Bergamo. Always careful to be sustainable in the fashion industry. Now, we would like to find out how and who are other people and realities of the city that have undertaken paths and projects related to the environment, to approach nature, and to a vision of a more sustainable future.
This is how the “sustainable ideas from Bergamo” column was born, which you will find every month in our journal.
The intention is to collect realities, people, professionals, entrepreneurs, actors of the Third Sector inspired by the concept of sustainability for their projects or professional paths.
Our first stop is in Portugal, in the city of Porto, with the association Critical Concrete, a non-profit organisation that deals with architectural projects with a critical eye towards sustainability and social issues.
Here works Ginevra, a girl who comes from Bergamo and who within the Critical Concrete team is a coordinator, urban planner and researcher of sustainable and alternative materials to be included in the field of conventional construction.
Never as in recent months have we rediscovered the value of our home, its importance as a safe space. Besides, the opportunity to consider it a place of change and transition to a greener lifestyle.
There are many virtuous behaviors to be put in action at home to be more sustainable. Such as doing local and bulk shopping, stocking up on clean energy, not wasting water, adopting indoor plants, or choosing furniture with natural materials and free of toxic substances.
The association highlights how fundamental these parameters are also in architectural design and construction.
Critical Concrete promotes a new educational model for renovating socially relevant spaces – social housing, cultural centres, and public areas – through educational programmes. These always involve the combination of theoretical content, thanks to an international team of teachers and practical workshops.
Through past editions of their Summer Schools, thanks to the commitment of students, mentors, municipalities, and local sponsors, it has been possible to renovate 4 public housing apartments. All this at a cost that normally could not be borne by the occupants of the houses or entirely covered by public funding. These are prompt interventions united by the same objective: to establish a new ecological and sustainable model of renovation, by giving students the opportunity to actively participate in the construction site.
However, the Critical Concrete team is not satisfied with renovating one house a year. For this reason, working hard, they managed to win a 3-year national tender for the renovation of 5 houses and 2 public spaces. Meanwhile, from autumn 2020, will start the first edition of their Sustainable-Sustainable Architecture educational. The program focuses on sustainable architecture practices, both environmental and financial. It combines 70 hours of theory with 210 hours of practical experience linking topics of sustainable construction, participatory design, and social project management.
As we continue to chat, Ginevra tells us about the unique nature of the association: the various eco-sustainable materials used as wall and roof insulation that Critical Concrete has experienced over the years.
Such as wool production waste, recycled cardboard, and cardboard-lime: made from shredded cardboard waste enriched with lime and other materials. Among these biomaterials, one of the most fascinating is certainly the mycelium (the vegetative tissue of the fungus), that acts as a binder for the recycled cardboard and then is pressed into special moulds, creating insulating panels that can be easily applied inside the building. There is a very common species used mainly for its rapid growth rates: the “oyster mushroom” (Pleurotus ostreatus).
At the moment, the realization of prototypes is in stand-by, waiting for funds to equip a laboratory, where to create the insulating panels thanks to new containers and a thermal press. Meanwhile, there is also the idea of developing a mushroom farm, providing a laboratory to manage the production of insulating panels and at the same time edible mushrooms: growing and then selling them as a means of self-financing.
The association also has a strong educational value: it hosts many young students and volunteers during the year.
As a non-profit association it can in fact welcome them thanks to the funds of the European Union through the Erasmus+ programme. However, for those who do not have the credentials to access this opportunity, there is the possibility to participate with the Work&Travel mode. In this case, the volunteers in exchange for their work receive accommodation and lunch, strictly vegan and shared. In addition, fruit and vegetables are supplied by the association Fruta Feia (ugly fruit), recovered from local producers, because damaged and no longer marketable. The example is the first form of education.
Their headquarters tells and reveals the spirit of the association. It is a building in the popular district of Francos, divided into co-working, co-living and co-building spaces. Here everything is designed with a view to self-construction, recovery, and sustainability in mind.
Moreover, Ginevra will share on our social channels some DIY recipes, which are used by the Critical Concrete team in their eco-friendly and responsible lifestyle. Stay tuned!
Take a look at their Youtube channel to find out more. Also, you can support the association and its research by making a small contribution with Patreon!