[SE26-HAB] International Cooperation and Construction: The Relationship Between Bureaucracy And Innovation

DAY 3 – Friday 29 June – 10:45-12:15

Swiss Tech | Room 3A | Level Garden 

Session Leader
Paolo Tombesi
School for Architecture, Civil, and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), EPFL, Switzerland
The overarching concern of Paolo Tombesi’s work is the relationship between the intellectual dimension of building and the socio-technical aspects of its physical construction. He adopts a comprehensive approach to the study of building activity and output that considers the relevant planning and implementation processes as well as all the technological frameworks in place. The subsequent analysis utilizes industrial economics, labour theory and regional development models to examine the relationship between design, technological innovation, knowledge production and building markets.
The activity of institutions involved in international cooperation (UN agencies, major financial institutions, other entities) is associated with substantial amounts of construction, from large infrastructure to small scale building, and subsequent relevant economic investment.
The work is generally subject to stringent bureaucratic protocols whilst often betraying a tendency for real-politik. Since construction is regarded as a sector potentially prone to conflict with local interests, it tends to be threaded on conservatively and by many agencies as an administrative by-product of core business.
Does this tendency assure an optimal return on the resources invested? Does construction fulfil its economic multiplier and development potential when tackled as a corollary to other programs rather than an autonomous engine of social and industrial growth?
Panelists and Abstracts
Early Childhood Development Centers in Rwanda: a Case Study Between “Development” and “Aid”.
Tomà Berlanda1, Nerea Amorós Elorduy2
1School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics, University of Cape Town
2The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College of London, London, UK.
Presenting author’s email address: toma.berlanda@uct.ac.za 
Biography of Presenting Author: Tomà Berlanda (Venice, 1976), is an architect and scholar with extensive international academic and professional experience. Since 2015 he is Professor of Architecture and Director of the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town. In this capacity, he pursues his research interests focusing on the implications that can be drawn from a non-stereotypical reading of urban and rural topographies in Sub Saharan Africa, and the socially engaged practice of architecture.
Between 2011 and 2014 the authors of the paper were involved, with the firm ASA Studio, in the design and construction of over twenty ECDs across rural areas and in two camps of Congolese refugees in Rwanda. Building on a self-initiated post-occupancy assessment campaign, the paper proposes a self-reflective comparative discussion of four of the rural and two of the refugee camps’ ECD centers. The comparative analysis intends to highlight the effects of the different models of operations of two UN agencies: UNICEF and UNHCR, and of the ecosystems of “development” and “aid” on the design and construction of educational facilities. The two different ecosystems affected both the design process – centered on the modular programmatic elements of the educational facilities – and the final built objects. Overall the intention of the paper is to demonstrate how the ecosystemic nature of the architectural approach to ECD interventions varies between “development” and “aid”, and how both those ecosystems give different priorities and value to innovation and participation.
Economic and Institutional Conditions Affecting Construction Projects in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations
André Ullal1
1Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Presenting author’s email address: andre.ullal@epfl.ch
Biography of Presenting Author: André is a collaborator with EPFL’s FAR laboratory, undertaking research into how broader economic and institutional conditions beyond the immediate project environment influence the organisation of actors and resources on construction sites. His PhD addresses the economics and management of construction in conflict and post-conflict situations. This research builds upon a prior career as an architect and consultant managing projects for the United Nations and other international organisations in conflict, post-conflict and post-disaster settings such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Pakistan.
An argument is made for more innovative approaches to aid-funded construction in conflict and post-conflict situations by highlighting discrepancies between assumptions underpinning current generic approaches, and actual conditions circumscribing construction. Actual industrial, economic and institutional conditions are described through analysis of proxy statistical indicators. Inadequate conditions are expected to undermine construction outcomes, thus undermining the social, economic and political objectives sought through construction projects. The findings suggest a need for further case study research to understand in detail the conditions that construction actors – including aid organisations and construction firms – face when building in conflict and post-conflict settings, and the practices they adopt in response. This understanding could inform innovations in construction systems and regulatory procedures that enable improved construction project outcomes.
Government-funded building in remote Northeast Arnhem Land, Australia: the underperforming current approach and a possible alternative
Hannah Robertson1
1University of Melbourne, Australia
Presenting author’s email address: hannah.robertson@unimelb.edu.au
Biography of Presenting Author: Hannah combines a socially driven and contextually responsive design approach with policy experience to work with remote communities. Hannah has worked on building and design projects with Indigenous communities in Cape York and Arnhem Land, Australia. Hannah is currently undertaking a PhD in architecture at the University of Melbourne investigating how a territorial and regional resources based approach to building in remote Northeast Arnhem Land can contribute to the development of local industry and the enhanced satisfaction of human needs. 
 Northeast Arnhem Land (NEAL), Australia is an extremely remote and distinctly Indigenous region. Due to market failure and Aboriginal land tenure restrictions, capital works investment is almost exclusively made by government.[1] Currently government policy for building tends to align with the Realpolitik. Policies are typically set at a national or state level as opposed to being region specific and have limited interaction with local needs. Capital works investments are centralized to the region’s largest settlements; deliver limited functions; and prioritise the delivery of complete built units using mostly imported resources. The net result is a stifling of the economic and multiplier potential of construction and a perpetuation of the reliance on government for all building processes. This paper proposes an alternative process driven building approach entitled ‘regional woven distribution’. It focuses on identifying local needs and transforming available resources to optimize resources invested in terms of meeting human needs and stimulating local sustainable economic development throughout both the construction and use phases of building.
Laterite Project; a local material to support the development of rural communities in the Republic of Mali.
Emilio Caravatti1,2, Matteo Caravatti1,2
1Caravatti architetti, Monza, Italy
2Africabougou NGO, Monza Italy
Presenting author’s email address: studio@caravatti.it
Biography of Presenting Author: Emilio Caravatti, Matteo Caravatti (caravatti_caravatti architetti) combines the professional architectural standards with direct humanitarian engagement, as evidenced by long-term commitment through different design experiences in social marginality areas. They are the founding member of Africabougou Ngo, a multi-disciplinary association that focuses its efforts on behalf of rural villages of Africa Sub-Saharan Africa, relying on the direct support of local employees and a network of contacts with private institutions, rural municipalities, associations and local authorities.
The building process, which responds to a primordial necessity, constitutes one of the greatest potential for exploiting resources that are still available and unexplored. The debate on construction issues is today mainly focused on the phenomenon of urbanization, where large megalopoles are fed with uninterrupted streams of populations from the countryside. It follows that most researches ignore the state of rural context where valuable case studies are virtually absent. The rural context is a decisive factor for a challenge to which the debate on architecture is also called to respond. The present research proposes the use of a natural material present on site but not yet known as laterite, local stone, found throughout the West African lateritic Plateau. The aim of the project is to trigger virtuous processes of self-dissemination of products on the local market to suggest solutions to create job opportunities, and new professional skills.
Beyond Bureaucracy: a New Role for Construction and Design.
Riccardo Vannucci1
1Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Presenting author’s email address: riccardo.vannucci@epfl.ch
Biography of Presenting Author: Riccardo Vannucci trained as an architect in Italy and completed his PhD in Architectural Design at ‘La Sapienza University’ in Rome. Following twenty years of professional experience, in 2006 he established FAREstudio, an architectural design firm that focused on International Cooperation projects. FAREstudio completed projects in a range of developing countries for various clients including UN Agencies and non-governmental organisations. In 2016 Riccardo Vannucci joined EPFL’s Laboratory of Construction and Architecture [FAR] as Senior Scientist. The work with FAR combines academic research with ongoing professional activity.
Abstract:Bureaucracy is a fundamental factor in limiting the potential of construction as a social and economic catalyst in international cooperation, but this phenomenon stems from the widespread perception of construction as a mere ancillary activity. Related to this, the growing tendency to treat, and deal with, technical knowledge and design as commodities must be considered. The combination of these factors results as a major deterrent to the integration of innovation into the agenda of the organisation involved with construction, especially those with a specific functional mandate [education, health, food security].
The experience on the field supports the idea that the production of appropriate built environment as inherent corollary of any socially sound programme can only be achieved if and when the system will recognise it as a strategic priority, accepting to reform its current statute.
Towards a resilient and holistic approach for development in the construction sector: Perspective and evidence from Haiti
Elise Berodier1, Ivan Bartolini2
1Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
2Centre de Competences en Reconstruction, Direction du Development et de la Cooperation Suisse, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Presenting author’s email address: elise.berodier@epfl.ch
Biography of Presenting Author : Elise Berodier is a Research and Development engineer in construction products at GCP Applied Technologies, Cambridge USA with a PhD in Material Sciences from EPFL, Switzerland. She is currently hosted by EPFL to lead a research program on cement hydration. Her research interest are in worldwide practices in concrete construction.
 Over the past 40 years, studies have reported that construction activities increase the economic growth in developing countries. After the earthquake and Matthew hurricane, donation and demand for construction raised significantly in Haiti. However, today the construction sector did not benefit as much as expected from the international aid. Haiti economics is still steady low and the general quality of the construction, did not improved much.
This paper studies cases in Haiti to understand how international aid and cooperation may improve their action to the development of a durable construction sector and so to the economic growth.
Transitional Prefabricated Shelter as a Tool for Recovery and Growth after an Emergency. Innovation versus Bureaucracy.
Patricia Muñiz1, Elisa Valero1
1Universidad de Granada, Spain
Presenting author’s email address:patricia@mmasa.net
Biography of Presenting Author: Patricia Muñiz holds a PhD in architecture with the dissertation: “Prefabricated Houses in Transitional Shelter Processes for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Haiti, Japan, Syria, 2010-2016”. She was a Professor at the TEC Monterrey (Mexico) and Visiting Lecturer at College of Management (Israel) and at the University of Coruña (Spain). She is also partner of MMASA Architects. Their projects have been awarded a number of prizes in national and international competitions, such as first prize in Warsaw in Europan 10.
 The provision of transitional shelter after an emergency situation is one of the priorities of Humanitarian Aid, especially during the reconstruction process. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most difficult, bureaucratic and costly actions to carry out, which also conflicts with local interests on many occasions. All this has caused some experts and organizations to take a dissenting posture in relation to the allocation of shelters different than tents; and more specifically the prefabricated ones.
With the analysis of contemporary experiences, the research we have done hereby acknowledge the relevance of prefabrication and innovation in the quick provision of transitional shelters, economically feasible and culturally accepted; which implies a dignified quality of life in a temporary way. Additional to the need to focus shelter as a process and not a byproduct of other necessities, which is part of the establishment of the recovery and the growth of society.