What if constructions would spring from geological layers or emerge as an effect of the weather in the area where they are located? What if the buildings of the future would be made exclusively from local materials, transformed by virtue of the forces and resources in the immediate environment? What would the most natural constructions on Earth look like, without any harmful mining and unsustainable power production?
Lava flow has shaped the landscape for billions of years, but in human times lava has been a destructive force. Basaltic lava flows can contain enough building materials for the foundations of an entire city that would rise in a few weeks. The Lavaforming project is a story of a world that has recognised that traditional building materials such as concrete and steel that embody huge amounts of carbon dioxide are no longer usable to build the cities that are needed.
The carbon footprint of building construction is about 40% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the world of which 9% is due to cement production. Yet both the demand and production of concrete in the world increases every year.
This means that we need to respond and design structures and cities that can cope with extreme weather, rising sea levels and the movement of people from dangerous areas on the planet without further destruction of natural resources. Therefore, the idea behind Lavaforming revolves around bypassing existing systems as much as possible, i.e. economic systems, production systems, transport systems and housing systems and examine what such structures might look like. The goal is to show ideas that use materials that no one owns, such as lava. To do that, we need to tell the stories and show a scenario of how the cities and societies of the future, and cities in times of climate change, might look like.
A necessary part of these case studies is detailed research work connected to different scientific areas, for example, the chemical composition of lava and utilization of the support walls, rovers and other methods that are incorporated to control the lava flow. Also building components and modular types need to be designed and developed along with technical implementations. The main aspect of the project is interdisciplinary collaboration.
The humans of earth face a future full of challenges, none of which are being met. The atmosphere’s temperature is set to rise by 5 degrees from pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. Organized human society may not survive the effects of this extreme transformation. The intergovernmental panel on climate change estimates that to avoid the worst of these effects, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels. This challenge like all other challenges humanity faces are not being met, the actions necessary to face this challenge are not even being contemplated by those who hold the power to do so. Profit maximizing mega-corporations have wants and needs of their own that surpass humanities survival. This is the result of their non-democratic nature. This combination of tyranny and gigantic power have transcended capitalism, what prevails is techno-feudalism.
The duty of an architect, when faced with this hopelessness of the system that produces his/her work. Is to imagine what architecture looks like in an economic system that has the capacity to face the challenge of climate change. Economics must become a part of the program, the central part. without it all architecture is exploitation, of people and planet.
Lavaforming is the architecture of a technologically advanced society that has abandonded profit maximisation and is therefore free to explore solutions to the building material crisis of the world.