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Thomas Noceto

Housing ecology: a new center for education on ecology... reclaimed by nature.

BC Architects & Studies were appointed to build a new reception center for education on nature and ecology for the region in the commune of Edegem, a project part of a wider masterplan for the Fort V site, aiming to strengthen the current function of public park. Thomas Noceto, a freshly master graduated student, interested in a not-too-common architecture firm such as BC architect & studies, which is devolving great efforts in redesigning the process of generating infrastructure and is also a materials research lab based in Brussels, teamed up with it to document the actual act of construction. Noceto followed the project all through its ideation and conclusion, from the preparation of the site, compressed earth blocks workshop, building construction to Hempcrete workshop, filming, storytelling, creating images for and around the work, from July 2017 to April 2018.

Noceto told us how the story unfolded, recounting how he collected tons of minutes of film before having a precise idea of what kind of video they will need, while BC firm was writing a book on The act of building: "near the end of the construction", he adds, "they received an invitation to expose their work at 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia 2018. From this moment, they knew the video will be essential to show their work". This is the video we are watching today on The Architecture Player, after it was shown in a few exhibitions.

The construction site is located inside a warehouse: it is here that BC Architects is building the space where kids can learn about nature and ecology. Might sound a little funny to teach kids about ecosystems… inside, without letting them out in the fresh air, but here's come a note from the architects, explaining that "the design interprets the existing warehouse as a Hortus Conclusus, in which the existing walls are considered as garden walls".

Some parts of the warehouse will be opened as to allow vegetation to grow in a controlled way: in a perfect balance between building materials and plants that reclaim their space, children will understand how artificial the concept of "nature" as a separate space from cities is. They will learn about coexistence and about the way vegetation plays a crucial role in our lives and environments.

The Regional House itself, add the architects, reflects this educative and ecological approach through radically sustainable and participative architecture. Structurally arched walls, inspired by the arch masonry of the fort, are made of compressed earth blocks from local clays. An insulation façade and roof of hempcrete is left apparent as finishing and makes this building CO2-negative. Only two construction techniques make the superstructure of this building honest, minimalistic and educational.

This is exactly the content of Thomas Noceto's film: here we assist to the production of the sustainable blocks produced in the 3 week workshop and see a glimpse of some of the more than 150 volunteers that worked on and learned with this project - showing, and this must be stated, a good diversity in the choice of students.

"BIOKLAS" follow the rules shared by most of the videos on workshops: with an upbeat mood, that conveys the sense of participation, Noceto shows us different moments of the workshop and different phases of the construction sites.

When asked about his interest in architecture film, Noceto says that "video completely changed my architecture approach. I'm currently writing a thesis on the importance of architecture popularization for the citizen's purpose. In a city governance matter, information has to spread fast and wide beyond social spheres".

"The popularity of video format is partly due to its convenience, the different shapes, lengths, looks it can take according to the subject, the platform, the public. Today society tends to lean on aesthetics. This is the reign of image. And architecture tends to be seen as an object, described as beautiful or ugly, in the city by the mass, letting aside all the social and urbanistic dimensions. So this is a chance for architecture to be seen as an art. With the help of mediators, architects are able to take advantages of its aesthetics to display all the science behind and raise the citizens' awareness."

This does not diminish the importance of other mediums or their effectiveness. However, video can be a great way to reach the most diverse kind of people, sensitive to this art or not, educated to this science or not, socially involved or not.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Architect: BC architects & studies
Mentioned project: Bioklas fortv Edegem/REGIONAL HOUSE EDEGHEM (2015-2018)
Project location: Edegem, Belgium
Drone camera operator: Jonathan Ortegat
Contractor: Het Leemniscaat

Belgium 2018
Duration: 3'58"