[MIT Architecture] "Engineering Independence: Concrete Architecture in the Global South"


Friday, April 30, 2021, 9:00am



MIT Architecture | Spring 2021 Lecture Series
In collaboration with the Building Technology Group
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM, webcast

Engineering Independence: Concrete Architecture in the Global South

Engineering Independence: Concrete Architecture in the Global South explores the global dynamics and local factors that shape the work of structural designers in the Global South, highlighting significant contributions largely omitted from conventional western scholarship. The symposium is organized and developed by students and faculty in the 4.s48 Collaborations in Concrete seminar, led this spring by Caitlin Mueller and Mohamed Ismail.

During the second half of the twentieth century, countries throughout the Global South gained independence from colonial rule. Subsequently, many newly-formed nation states commissioned grand architectural monuments that declared their newfound position on the global stage. At a time when material costs far outweighed the costs of labor, architects and engineers worked in close collaboration to realize these iconic and, quite often, materially efficient structures. A growing understanding of concrete’s structural potential paired with the widespread availability of its component materials meant that many of these architectural visions were realized in concrete.

Today, the looming climate crisis demands innovative approaches to sustainable design. Over 90% of global urbanization by 2050 is expected to occur in the Global South. This means that demand for concrete construction in developing countries will rise, as will the environmental costs of concrete construction. Now, more than ever before, we should draw inspiration from post-colonial structural designers while crafting the materially efficient construction of the future.


Engineering Independence: Concrete Architecture in the Global South

Mohamed Ismail is a PhD Candidate in Building Technology at MIT. He is trained as both a civil engineer (BS, Duke University) and architect (MArch, University of Virginia), and he studies the potential for structural and material optimization in the alleviation of housing insecurity in the Global South.

 Caitlin Mueller is an academic who works at the intersection of architecture and structural engineering. She is Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Architecture and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in the Building Technology Program, where she leads the Digital Structures research group.