at the 2021 venice architecture biennale, holcim – a global leader in sustainable building solutions – gave the floor to innovative and inspiring architects in a video series called ‘building conversations’. in this project, twelve prominent professionals —including hashim sarkis (see here),  lina ghotmeh (here), fabio gramazio (here) and benedetta tagliabue (here)— share their vision on architecture and its latest trends. 


‘architects inspire us every day to build progress for all,’ holcim explains. ‘the biennale was the perfect occasion to hear about the most important trends in architecture from the architects themselves.’ all interviews by holcim are available on the company’s youtube channel, while they are also presented in a series of holcim x designboom articles.

building conversations with holcim x designboom

all images and videos courtesy of holcim 



PAOLA VIGANÒ explores the horizontal metropolis


paola viganò is a professor at école polytechnique fédérale de lausanne and at the university of venice. her research focuses on new forms of urbanization and explores the concept of cities as renewable resources. in ‘building conversations’, she explores the horizontal metropolis, how to make space for everyone, and the move towards a porous design. ‘what type of new biopolitical space are we constructing as architects and urbanists?’ viganò asks. ‘space contains a possibility of emancipation. and this is where I think design can make a difference. how can we, with design, work more on horizontality, instead of on hierarchical relations? how can we make space for everybody?’


these are increasingly urgent questions, as urban populations are expected to rise to 6.5 billion by 2050 but 3 billion are expected to lack adequate housing. in line with viganò’s vision, holcim’s ambition is to help build new urban spaces that solve these challenges, empowering inhabitants and improving living standards, while sitting in continuity with – rather than in opposition to – the natural world.





leopold banchini and lukas feireiss discuss lloyd kahn’s influence


founded in 2016, leopold banchini architects is a geneva-based multidisciplinary research team that explores the frontiers of space shaping. in ‘building conversations’, leopold banchini talks with curator, writer and educator lukas feireiss about their contribution to the biennale: an homage to green building pioneer, lloyd kahn, and his research into self-build practices. ‘the ideas he proposed on how to live together, that are coming out of the seventies, sixties revolution, for me are still extremely inspiring,’ banchini says. ‘the thinking behind all of the projects in the oeuvre of lloyd kahn is a more organic, holistic understanding of architecture and building and construction, as opposed to a mechanical, very functional and logical way of creating the built environment,’  feireiss adds.


influenced by this bold idea of reinventing the world, holcim continuously strives to build progress for people and the planet and to contribute towards a more sustainable world. specifically, through its various projects, holcim aims to make cities greener, empower society with smarter infrastructure, and improve living standards for all.





sinus lynge promotes an ecosystem-centered design approach


sinus lynge is one of the two founding partners at effekt, a denmark-based architecture practice. in holcim’s series, he reflects on how, at this moment in time, we need to think about how we will live with each other and the natural world. ‘we are in a moment when we need to reconsider how we live together […] a transition from a human-centered design approach to an ecosystem-centered design approach, where we look beyond humans to a wider community of different species that have to live together,’  lynge explains.‘this approach represents a paradigm shift about how we think about ourselves and our culture, and how we think about building cities and architecture.’ 


taking the exponential growth of urban population and the lack of access to adequate housing into account, the question of ‘how will we live together’ is in urgent need of answers. holcim is tackling the questions, by redefining the boundaries of what is possible in its mission to build progress for both humans and nature. 





günther vogt touches on the evolution and value of landscapes


in ‘building conversations’, günther vogt, founder of zurich, london and berlin-based vogt landscape architects, talks about the evolution and value of landscapes. ‘how do we live together? but who do you mean by we?’ asks vogt. ‘for us, ‘we’ means we are many more than only human beings. it really is the landscape. ‘how will we live together?’ means […] we have to respect how much resources we have. everybody thinks it’s about euros, pounds, dollars. no, it’s more about what is the value of the landscape.’


for holcim, vogt’s philosophy inspires other questions: how do we build more with less? how do we improve the material efficiency of construction to avoid waste? how do we recycle waste?





nicolas laisné supports new, evolving ways of life


nicolas laisné is the founder of urban planning, architecture, and interior design firm nicolas laisné architectes. in ‘building conversations’, he presents his approach to architecture: the creation of buildings that support new, evolving ways of life. ‘new buildings have to make their environment better,’ laisné states. ‘it’s going to be warmer and warmer, and people are going to live more outside,’ he continues. this requires practical solutions: ‘that’s why I design projects with very large balconies, because I think you’re going to live on them.’ according to laisné, architects also have a role in bringing people together to find solutions. ‘we can make a lot for people, and to do it, we have to do it with all the specialists around the table. but I think the architect’s role is to manage these teams.’


building materials suppliers are a critical part of these teams, in order to build spaces that improve the quality of life, that are resilient in a changeable world but flexible to people’s needs. this is where holcim comes in. drawing from its extensive experience, as well as from the ‘building conversations’ series, the company is at the forefront of important innovative endeavors, such as the one described by laisné. 





tarik oualalou focuses on the right questions


design principal and founding partner at oualalou + choi, tarik oualalou has been a visiting architectural critic at several schools, including the MIT school of architecture and the ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture paris malaquais. in ‘building conversations’, oualalou stresses the importance of focusing on the right questions to create useful buildings, advocating for the creation of a global toolbox for local needs. ‘we all have similar issues, but the resolutions are different,’ he mentions. sustainability is the most pressing of these shared challenges. but,‘the fact that the climate is changing should not push us to a global generic solutionism. we’re advocating for a global tool box for extraordinarily local resolutions.’


oualalou raises fundamental questions that holcim is tackling as a leader in sustainable building solutions. the world is building the equivalent of a new york city every month. so, how do we build these improved, smart cities in ways that are green? the company addresses these issues and many more with its unique global approach, expressed in localized solutions.





nader Tehrani highlights the importance of local resources and techniques


manuel herz is the founder of basel and cologne-based practice manuel herz architects. in ‘building conversations’, herz presents the tambacounda hospital, stressing the importance of a design approach that actively includes local resources and techniques. ‘we have approached it as a design project based on a collaborative notion of developing space,’ he says. ‘architecture becomes a facilitator of how people can produce something together, influence each other, inspire each other, and also create beauty together.’


in today’s world, a whole other number of questions arises: how do we build spaces in which people and communities can thrive, together? how do we improve living standards for all? always drawing inspiration from the architects’ work, holcim is tackling these issues one project at a time. 





project info:



name: building conversations series

by: holcim x designboom