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Economy of Sustainable Construction

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The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction is hosting the 4th International Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction in India this time in April following its success at Germany, Mexico and Singapore. Speaking to Buildotech, Edward Schwarz, General Manager, Holcim Foundation, said that “the forums always had a topic that was relevant to sustainable construction. The first one was Basic needs, the second one was on Urban transformation and the third one was on reinventing construction and we always try to organise it in a place that offers relevant sites to actually give concrete examples of what we are talking about. India and in particular Mumbai offers good examples of where economy and construction meet. Where one is forced to be economical in doing certain things and where example shows that is it possible to use smaller economic means to make a big impact.”

The foundation collaborates closely with renowned technical universities like the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich), Switzerland; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA; Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), Mexico City, Mexico; Ecole Superieure d’Architecture de Casablance (EAC), Morocco; Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay), Mumbai, India; Tongji University (TJU), Shanghai, China; Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa. Together with its partner universities, the foundation advances the academic discussions of sustainable construction.

The other reason why the foundation selected India was the kind of facilities that IIT Bombay offered and the fact that Mumbai has many relevant & interesting sites and specialised people to talk about these sites. IIT Bombay will be hosting the event for us and will allow us to use its facility for two of the three days. The middle day will be for mobile workshops that will go through various locations in the city relevant to each of the four modules of the workshops. The workshops will take the participants through a tour and will have experienced specialists from the city give a theoretical introduction, show them around and explain the importance of the site. The participants will include national and international architects, planners, engineers and students. With limited seats, it is often difficult to choose from the hundred applications. We also make sure that atleast a quarter of the participants are students with a higher degree qualification. The foundation also holds competitions in partner universities prior to the forum. Students of the winning entry are then invited to the forum.

The forum and foundation aim to promote sustainability in construction and encompass social, economic & visual impact and environmental issues. The idea is to highlight one topic – so this time the forum will focus on the Economic aspect of Sustainability. The forum will however not forget every other aspect of sustainability and will trigger the best in the world to reflect on the topic and deliver papers on the same.

Twenty papers from different disciplines from across the world will be presented at the forum as a book. The topic will then be broken down into four workshops which will be divided into two half day workshops with presentations of the expert papers and one day mobile workshops involving exertions and finally two blocks of preliminary discussions. Finally there will be a concluding panel of discussion involving everyone present in the forum.

Each of the four workshops at the 2013 Holcim Forum will be organized as two half day break-out sessions and a one full day guided “mobile workshop”, travelling to different sites throughout the city of Mumbai. The workshops will address the topic of “Economy of Sustainable Construction” by investigating four different themes: Local resources — Leveraging regional skills and metabolism; Compact city — Sustainable or just sustaining economic law?; Retained diversity – Maintaining strengths while upgrading informal habitats; and Overall value — Harnessing all benefits from sustainable construction.


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