Brian Haulter

Brian Haulter

Cambridge, MA, US


The Loofarcade

The Atlantic Forest, in southeastern South America, currently retains only about 7% of its original surface coverage. This rainforest contains nearly 7% of the world’s plant and animal species (many of which are endemic). The section of this forest contained within Paraguay, known as The Chaco, loses approximately 1,500 football pitches worth of forest every day.  At the same time, about 300,000 Paraguayan families are living without adequate housing. The Loofarcade is an exploration into material research, searching for a way to house all Paraguayan families without further exacerbating the pressing issues of deforestation.

The loofah, which many of us are familiar with as the exfoliating scrubbing brush hanging in our shower, is an Asian gourd that flourishes in the Paraguayan climate. Its vines grow readily in nearly every garden, and they can even help in the remediation of the soil that the deforestation process inevitably destroys. If picked when ripe the gourd is eaten and tastes much like okra, but if allowed to dry in the sun the gourd becomes a cellular bone-like structure that is very lightweight and extremely strong in compression.

Exploiting these characteristics The Loofarcade creates a shaded walkway that connects the two main parks of Asuncion, around which are sited the “Seven Treasures of Cultural Heritage”. The hovering arches are composed of two sheets of loofah oriented strand board (strips of loofah mixed with resin) with a layer of vertically oriented loofah slices sandwiched between. This structure is then bent into an arch shape by the cables that anchor it to the facades of the surrounding buildings.

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Status: School Project
Location: Asunción, PY
My Role: Architect