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Architecture factories : prefabricated buildings as industrial heritage in Brazil and the Netherlands

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4:30 PM, Lundi 29 Août 2022 (20 minutes)

The prefabricated architecture of the modernist era is intrinsically related to industrialization and presents historical, technological, social, architectural, and scientific values to be preserved. Prefabricated buildings, as well as its components, production methods and industrial plants are therefore, material and technological legates of great interest for the industrial archaeological heritage.

As a result of recent postdoctoral research on adaptive reuse of industrial and prefab buildings, and ongoing research, this article presents the technological legacy of two compared prefab school buildings:the First Christian Lower Technical School Patrimonium- designed by the Dutch architect J.B. Ingwersen, produced by Schokbeton Industries,and built in Amsterdam (1956) ; and the Iansã Module -by the Brazilian architect João Filgueiras Lima, a.k.a Lelé, manufactured at the Architecture and Urban Equipment Factory -FAEC, and assembled as part of the Faculty of Architecture of Salvador (1986).

Fundamentally inspired by rationalization, standardization and functionalism, the industrialized production ofarchitecture uses scientific methods aiming at higher quality and better optimization of resources and time. Produced with high precision techniques, aesthetic rigor and formal quality are also common features of these architectures. The different plans, systems and families of elements created in each case allow for different solutions and spatial arrangements, which gives flexibility from the first design of buildings, as well as their subsequent adaptive reuse, allowing both easy replacement of deteriorated parts and future adaptations for respond to functional changes. With the architectural references of Viollet-le-Duc, Perret, Nervi, Prouvé, Füller and other notable architects and professionals, the prefabricated technological legacy of reinforced concrete and mortar has produced modern and audacious prefabricated buildings, constituting a field important for the care as industrial heritage,and leaving important lessons for the future. Despite our understanding of precast methods and buildings as modern and industrial heritage to be preserved, there are no known specific methods for treating this type of high - density precast concrete and reinforced mortar. As seen in Wessel De Jonge's Meticulous Architectural Works for the Conservation and Adaptive Reuse of The First Technical School Patrimony to the Cygnus Gymnasium Grammar School in 2013, some important information necessary for a correct intervention in these buildings must be detected and recorder through background research, analysis, diagnostic work, testing and trials of samples.In addition to the plants, processes, methods and shapes, the examination of the elements, its joints, materials, mixtures, particle sizes, degrees of compaction, among other characteristics, are important keys to plan adaptive reuse while maintaining the appearance of the building, but also its substance and cultural meaning. As coordinator of a research group in architecture, construction, technology and heritage, and conducting research and experiments on Lelé's prefabricated legacy, our team has been working on the scientific characterization of the Iansã Module, as a way to support an ongoing initiative by Faculty of Architecture for its adaptive preservation and reuse as a laboratory and experimental construction site on our campus.

Mainly considering that Schokbeton Industries had its technology later spread across several countries, including Canada, to study and compare its industrial plant in Zwijndrecht, Netherlands, with that of FAEC, assembled by João Filgueiras Lima in Salvador, Brazil, as well as its samples of buildings can provide us with tools to better preserve industrial prefab legacies across territorial boundaries for adaptive reuse and heritage-based sustainable development.

Ceila Cardoso


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