Coming back soon...

I now think it makes sense to come back to this space. So many things have been happening over the last few years and I have been missing these moments sharing with the roof, sharing with the world. A few things will change though... The focus and the layout (needs a bit of work on that! suggestions welcome) mainly.
More to come soon! 


EBUK - Earth Building UK Conference and AGM 2012, January 13th, York

Earth Building UK Conference and AGM 2012, January 13th, York.

The conference will explore the use of earth and clay plasters with leading experts. The use of earth and clay plasters has increased in recent years, with interest groups concerned with the conservation of historic buildings, ecologically sensitive new construction, alongside a growing interest from industry in innovative materials. 

The conference is a brilliant opportunity to meet fellow EBUK member and exchange ideas.

Find out more on the website by following this link: http://www.ebuk.uk.com/index.php/?p=317

Conference Location: The Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York, Heslington, York. YO10 5GE. http://www.york.ac.uk/hub/facilities/

Conference fee: The conference fee for EBUK members is £42.00. This includes refreshments and lunch. If you are not already an EBUK member the conference fee is £63.00 (this includes a full year’s membership of EBUK).

Post conference tour: Saturday January 14th 2012. A tour of York House, Malton to view the historic building and get an expert introduction to the earth mortars and plasters investigated and conserved in the recent conservation project. This tour will be with Nigel Copsey (Earth, Stone and Lime company) and Ben Gourley (University of York).

Showcasing your work: Space will be available for display of materials and products.If you offer services or products, the conference is a great place to showcase your work and support EBUK at the same time. You can promote your project or business at very reasonable rates throughout the conference. For example, for £160 you can put up a display next to the main conference room or for £60 put brochures into every delegate's conference pack. For more details about sponsorship email lu_ebuk@btinternet.com or telephone 01944 728441.

Students: Fancy a free conference? Load your images of earth buildings in the UK to our EBUK Flickr  stream.
The EBUK directors will decide on a winning image and the winning image will be announced on the day.  We will reimburse the conference fees for one student. The winning image will be announced on the day.

Spread the word: Please spread the word of the Earth Building UK conference to your colleagues and friends – EBUK is a network fostering the understanding, appreciation and development of building with earth.



Rammed earth workshop in Oxford

The images above were captured during a rammed earth workshop that took place at Oxford Brookes University last Friday. This workshop was organised by the OxArch Society who, once again, brought Rowland Keable (Ram Cast) to orient the works. Unfortunately this time I was unable to attend so I haven't seen the finished work yet. Will make sure to visit the site this week and take a few more pictures!

Oh, and remember the posts about the construction of the composting toilet? I never managed to post photos of the final stage of construction, but you can see it finished in the background of the first photo above. Doesn't it look great?


Crazy Clown Time - David Lynch

David Lynch, the genius behind Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive (one of my all time favourites!), The Straight Story (beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!) and other masterpieces, has got a new work coming out soon!
After filmmaking and visual arts, Lynch is now launching his first solo music project (Crazy Time Clown).
I have to say that, for me, this does not come as a big surprise. One just has to watch his films to understand how important music has always been in his career. His films would not be as interesting without that slightly crazy music in the background, that always seems to fit in so perfectly in the surrealist environments he creates. Just watch Mulholland Drive and you'll understand... Apart from that, Lynch has done musical collaborations before with other artists, most of them with wonderful results.
From what I have heard so far, I can only say that this album could only have been created within the depths of David Lynch's mind :) Play the video above and you'll see what I mean.

You can also check THIS WEBSITE to listen to another one of his musical projects, with a singer called Chrysta Bell. A bit different, but wonderful nevertheless.
The man is a genius and so good at everything he does... Unbelievable! 

Crazy Time Clown will be available from November 7. 


First images of Tim Burton's new film released !

The first two images of the new project from director Tim Burton - the creator of "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Legend of the Headless Horseman" - were released this week on the internet, to the delight of millions of fans.

The new film is called "Frankenweenie" and is actually the 'remake' of a short film by Burton with the same name, but made in
1984. The short film, a parody of the Frankenstein story was produced for Disney - and resulted in Burton's being dismissed...

Lucky for us, Disney dismissed this 30 min film so much, that allowed it to be placed in full on YouTube! 

(Part 1 below)

Photo gallery of beautiful Portuguese train stations

Rossio train station, Lisbon

Complete photo gallery HERE

Fado for "Intangible Heritage of Humanity"

According to PUBLICO, FADO music may be elected Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Fado, already considered worldwide as a symbol  of Portuguese culture, is now amongst the seven favourites in the lot of 49 applications. The winner will be selected in a meeting of experts that will take place between 22 and 29 November in Bali.
The experts considered that FADO has "a kind of poetic and musical versatility" with "a strong sense of belonging and connection to Lisbon."

I could not agree more and, being a complete fado lover, I am very happy that FADO can be finally recognised for what it is!

For those of you who don't know that much about fado, below is the video presented at the time of the application for fado as "Intangible Heritage of Humanity".

And, just in case you would like to listen to some more...


'Witchcraft versus smart power: who owns human rights in the postcolonial world?'

Interesting talk at St Catz College, Oxford. 8pm tonight!

'Witchcraft versus smart power: who owns human rights in the postcolonial world?'

The talk is based on historical research in Zimbabwe and the presentation is intended to stimulate questions and discussion, rather than provide a fully-formed argument. Prof. Jeater is looking to identify an interface between international political ideologies and local Zimbabwean understandings of human rights and community morality.
Prof Jeater has an interest in how indigenous ideas about spiritual and community well-being have been harnessed, distorted or destroyed by the work of international NGOs and solidarity organisations; about the consequences of this for politics in Zimbabwe in recent times; and about the implications for Suzanne Nossel's advocacy of 'smart power' as a way of maintaining US hegemony in a changing world.


A walk through Chicala


Adeus Luanda...

Hoje escrevo em Português, como homenagem ao Português que se fala em Angola! Amanhã estarei de volta ao Reino Unido. Tenho a certeza que vou sentir saudades desta bela terra de boa gente... Vou também sentir falta da banana-pão e do jindungo, assim como doutros sabores fantásticos que descobri por cá :)
Um grande abraço aos nossos "Kambas", que tanto nos mostraram e proporcionaram uma estadia maravilhosa em Luanda.
O que aprendi cá não é quantificável, mas percebo agora quando me diziam que uma visita a Luanda tem a capacidade de mudar uma pessoa...

Até já Luanda... Até já Angola!! :)



Just a few nights ago I was having dinner outside and noticed that there was a fire on one of the tin shacks not very far, on the other side of the bay. Whether it is due to electric wiring left exposed, malfunctioning generators or the use of candles (many of these areas do not have electricity), it is not uncommon to hear news of families loosing their houses because of fire.

I never thought I was going to experience this, but my house nearly caught fire today! The generator had been working for many hours and one of the circuits must have overheated or something. Suddenly everything went pitch black and the generator was sounding like it was going to explode! One of the lamps then caught fire and the flames were all over the timber - you really have to see houses in the musseques to understand just how dangerous a fire can be. At the time I was shouting like crazy but luckily it was all sorted in a matter of minutes. Nothing that a bucket of water couldn't fix.
Seriously, I don't even want to think if this had happened whilst no-one was looking (we often leave the generator on if we are, for example, next door) :(

This self-building culture is a double-edged sword. Yes, it is great to build your own house, but the problem begins when people want to do everything by themselves, even if they haven't got a clue what they're doing! The precarious conditions of electric wiring, often left exposed to the elements (like the one we have here) can lead to very serious consequences. I mean, you sort of guess what may happen if, in order to turn on a light, you have got to put two wires together...



I visited Zango (I, II, III and IV) today, an incredibly big area with thousands of houses 60 Km away from Luanda. Zango's houses were by the government with the intention of housing those who, for some reason, have been evicted from their houses. From what I understood, Zango was built in 4 different phases. In fact, Zango IV is still under construction and people have only just started to move in. This allowed me to see different stages of the process, from construction to post-occupation. Interestingly enough, the houses from Zango I (the first ones to be completed) have all been altered by the occupants to meet their different needs. For this reason, most of the times it is difficult to see the original house behind the walls, extensions, trees, plants, etc.. 

Zango IV, on the other hand, is still mostly unoccupied and the houses are nothing but empty shells in the middle of nowhere. It makes you wonder whether these houses were built for human occupation in the first place... I am sure that with time the place will look better, though.

 House from Zango I

Zango IV


Thousands of people demonstrating in Lisbon for justice in times of crisis | Milhares de indignados gritaram em Lisboa por justiça em tempos de crise

Fonte: Publico.pt
15.10.2011 - 20:42 Por Cláudia Carvalho

"O encontro estava marcado para as 15h em vários pontos do país, mas só mais tarde é que as manifestações portuguesas começaram a ganhar força. A organização aponta para 100 mil pessoas na manifestação de Lisboa, o jornal espanhol El País baixa a estimativa para 30 mil. Ainda não há resultados à vista, mas já há uma nova manifestação agendada: 26 de Novembro."

The meeting was scheduled for 3pm in various parts of the country, but only later did the Portuguese demonstrations began to gain strength. The organisation points to 100 000 people in the Lisbon's demonstration, the Spanish newspaper El Pais lowers the estimate to 30,000. There are still no results in sight, but there is already a new demonstration scheduled to Nov. 26

Artigo completo AQUI


Today is definitely NOT a very good day!!!


One week to go

Half of the day was completely lost... I was supposed to have an interview in the morning with someone in the National Housing Institute but, unfortunately, he had to postpone to Monday... Couldn't do much at DW today either. With only one week left here I feel that I am a bit behind on my work, and fear that I will not be able to achieve what I planned, especially in terms of interviews to people from the musseque. Now I see how helpful it would have been to have had some research assistants...
It's almost impossible to plan these things from a distance. You can never truly predict what is going to happen. For example, it is incredibly hot every single day, which means that after only three interviews I am completely tired. In the city centre, where I have been almost every morning, it takes ages to get everywhere because of traffic. Also, even you you have a meeting at a certain time you usually have to wait a bit (often more than a bit...) longer until people are available to talk to you.
And last, but not least, as there does not seem to exist such thing as a quiet night, I haven't slept properly since I arrived – I am not exaggerating :).

Next week I hope to visit one of the new cities built from scratch in the outskirts of Luanda. Everyone has been telling me so many interesting things about it during the interviews, that I really want to see things for myself. This idea of building an entire city where there was literally nothing is very interesting for me as an architect. In this case I am particularly interested in the architectural solutions adopted for the low-cost housing. I'll post some photos if I manage to go there.

Tomorrow the plan is to visit other musseques (Cazenga, Rangel and Sambizanga), so I am looking forward to it!!

In the meantime here are some photos taken over the last days here in Chicala.