Critical Concrete

Critical Concrete

Berlin, DE


Critical Concrete announce the first graduates of the Sustainable-Sustainable Architecture Post-graduation

By criticalconcrete
Jul 16, '21 1:40 PM EST
Students and mentors getting hands-on construction experience on site
Students and mentors getting hands-on construction experience on site

Critical Concrete is happy to announce our first generation of graduates from the Post-Graduation Programme: Sustainable Sustainable Architecture, jointly offered with the Escola Superior Artistica Porto (ESAP). Throughout 2 semesters, students enjoyed a learning experience consisting of online lectures - held by international experts in their respective fields, and 6 weeks of hands-on workshops here in Porto. 

This unique hybrid approach marries theory with practice, encouraging students to engage with their home environments and apply theoretical learning to real construction projects. With students hailing from 4 continents, the cohort zoomed from global to local scales. They explored topics like vernacular architecture, public participation and sustainable development. Helena, a student, said her “favorite part of this course is being able to connect with so many different backgrounds, different people, different concepts, new solutions”. This diverse range of backgrounds has formed a strong network of practitioners who will continue to collaborate into the future. 

We welcomed the students to Porto to participate in two hands-on workshops renovating a social house using low-tech and sustainable solutions. Among the many tasks on site, students got to build a timber roof structure, insulate the house with cork panels and clad the facade with charred timber . The cork insulation is extremely high performing, locally grown in Portugal and resistant to insects and damp. Charring the timber preserves and protects the wood as well as creating a beautiful deep black facade. These methods aren’t typically taught in architecture schools leading one student to reflect: ‘For me it was an amazing experience, learning all the techniques used in Esposende house. Almost all of them were new to me’.

We are proud to have offered a range of modules touching on sustainable topics in architecture and beyond.  For instance, mycelium is a pioneering bio-material that can be used as insulation which students found “cool to learn about something that is being developed now”.  The course ranges from the pioneering to the ancient; two modules delved into earth construction - a method that is seeing a resurgence due to it’s hyper-sustainable credentials. Students were introduced to Raw Earth construction in the first semester and subsequently applied this knowledge building a rammed earth floor and bench with Hanno Burtscher in the second semester workshop. SSA Student Viviana said: “it was really empowering to be included in the decision making... our mentors, the whole group, listened to what each of us had to say which was really nice”.

Empowerment has been a recurring theme throughout the course.  As young practitioners explore social and sustainable topics, they go on to empower their communities at home. The course has equipped our graduates with the tools to progress into sustainable fields and broaden their impact in the built environment and further. This is perhaps best summarized by one student who said the SSA had opened their “perspective on the possible intervention and action approaches, both through practical and theoretical challenges. I feel more positive and confident about what I can actually do in my practice and which path to choose to improve the world around me”. We are excited to witness the impact our first graduates will have as they progress to the next stage of their life and careers empowered and equipped to enact lasting change.

Following the success of our inaugural year Critical Concrete is thrilled to continue our partnership with ESAP and welcome a new cohort of like minded practitioners to the course. Applications are currently open for the 2021/22 academic year, which will see the continuation of our hybrid theoretical-practical educational model. We encourage applications from a wide range of backgrounds and individuals interested in sustainable urban development, low-tech construction and social justice. The deadline is 13th August and early applications are encouraged as spaces are limited. Further information can be found at: or by contacting