critical concrete refurbishes a family house in porto based on sustainable and social architecture research

critical concrete refurbishes a family house in porto based on sustainable and social architecture research

porto-based non-profit organization critical concrete works actively on the refurbishment of socially relevant spaces shared by low-income communities. this social initiative runs different activities promoting new mechanisms and alternatives such as a summer school program, a social, ecological and educational architecture format that aims to be leading the development towards a sustainable practice by taking part in a social action refurbishing a house for a family in need. working on both the environmental and social level involves finding other ways to proceed within the financial limits of the project.


aiming to apply the latest results of critical change, critical concrete and just a change’s research lab offered this year to put their alternative insulation research into action with cardboard panels production and mycelium experimentation in a context where heating remains one of the biggest issues in terms of housing energy poverty.

the exterior before and after



45 participants from more than 30 different countries worked alongside ten mentors and a team of eleven people, all united by the same objective — learn and exchange sustainable and social architecture knowledge. the refurbishment of the house was prepared in a collaborative process of ten months with the district municipality of ramalde in porto and the help of social workers.

the kitchen before and after



the refurbishment followed a strategy led by the needs of space, light, and intimacy. from demolition to new plumbery, electricity, kitchen extension, fresh paint, and old furniture renewed, the overall project got processed and delivered on time to the owner family on the 18th of august, in presence of the mayor of the ramalde district.

the living room before and after



this year’s summer school ran with a new challenge to achieve: self-production of the whole house’s insulation. strong from last year’s research, mycelium and cardboard defined new rules and experiments in the refurbishment process. through a fascinating workshop with maurizio montalti of mogu design and a series of self-experiments with a local mushroom producer migaas, the team further developed its research on mycelium-based insulation panels and produced panels to test and develop the process. in parallel, another group built cardboard insulation panels, adapting a process already developed and tested by the research lab before with the renewed isolation of the roof a month before the summer school. in the end, 53 square meters of cardboard panels were produced and installed on site.


with the experience gained by yet another successful summer school, the program progresses as well to a more sustainable system in itself. the critical concrete’s journey continues, surely researching through the year to improve natural alternatives construction processes for the 2019 summer school.

the building process – the kitchen extension

the building process – interior walls

the demolition process

the participatory design process

the mycelium research lab

the cardboard production


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

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