Alternatives to cement: “Wetland” wins Golden Lion at Venice Biennale

The cement industry emits carbon dioxide at every step of the manufacturing and supply chain, making it particularly difficult to reduce emissions.

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The production and use of cement/concrete

Environmental impact of concrete – Wikipedia

Futures Forum: Climate change: and concrete: “the massive CO2 emitter”

Futures Forum: Climate change: and changing the old, polluting ways of the cement industry

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The industry is keen to clean up its act:

Concrete makers face heavy lift on climate pledges

Cemex, North America’s biggest concrete producer, has vowed to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 40% before 2030 and to eliminate them by 2050, ambitious goals reflecting growing pressure on the industry from regulators and investors.

But steep challenges in technology, cost-control, environmental regulation and building-code compliance could snarl the effort, underscoring the difficulty in cleaning up an industry that is among the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitters, according to interviews with Cemex officials, cement and concrete industry groups and specialists in industry emissions.

Cement, a key ingredient in concrete, contributes about 8% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to Chatham House, a London think tank. That’s far more than global aviation, according to data from the Air Transport Action Group, an industry group. The cement industry produces more CO2 than any nation except for the United States, China and India, according to the International Energy Agency. (See graphic.)

The industry emits carbon dioxide at every step of the manufacturing and supply chain, making it particularly difficult to reduce emissions. The CO2 pollution starts with mining of limestone and continues with the chemical process used to turn it into cement, the power for factories and kilns, and the fuels for shipping it worldwide for projects from patios to skyscrapers.

Concrete makers face heavy lift on climate pledges | Reuters

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But meanwhile, a lot of attention is being paid to alternatives:

Alternative cement with low carbon footprint developed

UK cement industry sets out roadmap to “go beyond net-zero” by 2050

Carbon capture can enable low-carbon cement production | The Engineer The Engineer

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One such alternative has just won a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale:

UAE / Wetland Wins the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 2021 Venice Biennale

The United Arab Emirates has won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 2021 Venice Biennale, with its contribution entitled Wetland curated by Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto. … the winning contribution at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale explores the local geography of the United Arab Emirates to find alternatives to cement, one of the key emitters of the world’s carbon dioxide.

Tackling one of the recurring themes at the Venice Biennale, climate urgency and deterioration of the environment, the Golden Lion Winner of Best National Participation has managed to find a contextual solution by looking into Sabkhas, a sturdy ecosystem of natural salt flats nascent to the United Arab Emirates, to find an alternative renewable resource for construction, one that can replace Portland cement. With a group of scientists in Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, the team has been working on reproducing the crystallization process of this ecosystem.

In Venice, ArchDaily had the opportunity to meet with architect Wael Al Awar, one of the co-curators of the UAE Pavilion, to discuss how the pavilion’s innovative material came to be and what it means for the future of architecture. Watch the Interview below.

UAE / Wetland Wins the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 2021 Venice Biennale | ArchDaily

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Here’s the video:

Wael El Awar: “Our Future Vernacular Could Be Our Industrial Waste” | Venice Biennale 2021 – YouTube

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And here’s more from the UAE and architecture press:

Huge structure made of eco-friendly cement derived from UAE salt flats to be displayed at Venice Biennale

UAE wins Golden Lion for best pavilion at 2021 Venice Biennale

   
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