EPISODE 5: CONCRETE
Concrete is one of the most consumed materials on earth, second only to water. We pour so much that it’s like adding a concrete Mount Everest to the Earth every couple of years. This anthropic rock’s utility and unmatched liquidity has long enabled dense cities, a characteristic of human occupation that is essential to living sustainably. However, concrete remains one of the most polluting materials in existence. Although concrete buildings and bridges reinforced with steel may make life easier and faster, the two materials together account for more carbon emissions than all car and plane emissions combined.
While concrete is the biggest consumer of freshwater on the planet, it also requires vast amounts of sand, extracted from beaches, riverbeds, and the sea floor; an activity wreaking havoc on ecosystems and causing violent territorial disputes. Plus, concrete might be deteriorating much faster than we thought. But, concrete is also considered an essential resource for infrastructure-resilience projects in regions facing extreme weather, climate migration, and rising sea levels. With this need in mind, is it possible to think of the material as being sustainable or equitable?
Is it even possible or responsible to imagine an end to concrete?
Register in advance for the webinar.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Lucia Allais is an architectural historian and critic who writes about the relation of architecture, politics, and technology in the modern period and on the global stage. Her first book was Designs of Destruction: The Making of Monuments in the Twentieth Century, and her most recent article is a critical history of the carbonation equation for reinforced concrete, co-authored with Forrest Meggers. Allais is an associate professor at Columbia University, where she also directs the Buell Center. She is a member of Aggregate, and an editor of the journal Grey Room.
Elise Berodier is an engineer and scientist who campaigns for a transdisciplinary approach to developing sustainable concrete. She has been working in the field for over 10 years, in both urbanized and urbanizing countries. Her expertise ranges from the chemistry of cement to optimizing concrete production and repairing concrete structures, and she has developed projects investigating the actual context of concrete construction through the lenses of material science, knowledge management, economics, and building practices. She had worked with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Haiti, and is the founder of Béton Désarmant, a forum highlighting women using concrete in multiple fields.
Kiran Pereira is the author of the book Sand Stories: Surprising Truths about the Global Sand Crisis and the Quest for Sustainable Solutions and the founder of sandstories.org. She works as a social entrepreneur to find and promote solutions to the global sand crisis. Her work has been featured in the award-winning documentary Sand Wars and in media such as the Economist, BBC Radio5, Al Jazeera, Financial Times, ZDF Magazin Royale, and CNBC digital, among others. She lives in London.
Lindsey Wikstrom is the cofounding principal of Mattaforma, a design and research practice, and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Her Core I architecture studio explores the generative potential of material sourcing, commons, and renewability, while her Advanced IV studio focuses on the architectural and urban implications of biodiverse mass timber. Her research has been supported by the SOM Foundation, published in Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives, and exhibited at the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Wikstrom has a forthcoming essay in Cite and a book project with Routledge.
Automated captioning is available for all online programs. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning are available for public programs upon request with two weeks’ advance notice. MoMA will make every effort to provide accommodation for requests made with less than two weeks’ notice. For accessibility questions or accommodation requests please email [email protected] or call (212) 708-9781
This session will be led virtually through Zoom, a free video-conferencing software. Participants are encouraged to use a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a camera and Internet access, if possible. Participants may also dial in using a phone line. Participants will receive a Zoom link upon registering.
This event was made possible through a generous gift from Emilio Ambasz. The Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment is a platform for fostering dialogue, promoting conversation, and facilitating research about the relationship between the built and natural environment, with the aim of making the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to the wider public while highlighting the urgent need for an ecological recalibration.