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'Worker build your own machinery' (Ché Guevara, 1961)
'Worker build your own machinery' (Ché Guevara, 1961)

Drive-by and drop-off lane. Disregarded materials are placed in different containers.
Drive-by and drop-off lane. Disregarded materials are placed in different containers.

The machine. Reusable materials and objects are placed on a machine to be dissasembled, categorized before repairing or upcycled.
The machine. Reusable materials and objects are placed on a machine to be dissasembled, categorized before repairing or upcycled.

Public warehouse. Disregarded materials are turned into valuable resources and brought backe to the public in the warehouse.
Public warehouse. Disregarded materials are turned into valuable resources and brought backe to the public in the warehouse.

Flows of materials on overhead conveyor belt.
Flows of materials on overhead conveyor belt.

The drive by and drop off lane underneath the elevated volume.
The drive by and drop off lane underneath the elevated volume.

Conceptual model
Conceptual model

Section model
Section model




PROJECTINDEX
 
ALAMAR’S MATERIAL WAREHOUSE
Technische Universiteit Delft
ARCHITECTURE

This design for a centre for circular economy is located in Alamar, a district in the east of Havana. In Alamar’s Material Warehouse, flows of disregarded materials are processed into valuable new resources.
With the Cuban Revolution came an inventive culture of reuse and repair. This was partly out of necessity, as American technicians had left the island during the early days of the revolution, taking with them a wealth of technical knowledge. Fidel Castro together with Che Guevara therefore had to invest in technical education. Slogans like ‘Worker, build your own machinery!’ and ‘To beat Imperialism in the battle of replacement parts!’ mobilized a movement of makers. The Cubans’ inventiveness came clearly to the fore during the ‘Special Period’, a time of extreme rationing and shortages. In order to address these circumstances the government published a manual entitled ‘El Libro de la Familia’ with instructions and explanations regarding the repair, reuse and upgrading of things in and around the house. Throughout the country, living rooms changed into laboratories for DIY innovation. This Cuban ingenuity can also be construed as technological disobedience. Cubans look at objects in quite another way than we do with our Western eyes. They see each object as an assemblage of smaller elements where each component can be reused in different ways.
So the Cubans unintentionally created a society based on sustainability and reuse, in sharp contrast to our Western throwaway society defined as it is by planned obsolescence. Now that Cuba is at the point of opening up to the world, it will also open up to new flows of materials and capital. This will mean an increase in the production of waste on the island. Cuba now has to respond to the changing circumstances without falling prey to the same mistakes our Western throwaway society made. Cubans should embrace their reuse mentality and become an example to the world. Instead of dumping waste in tips it can be reused, reallocated, repaired or recycled. Alamar’s Material Warehouse is taking the flows of surplus resources in the right direction. It works as a machine that collects disregarded materials and transforms them by disassembly, sorting and categorizing, repairing, recycling and upcycling into valuable new resources for the people of Alamar.

As a rule, buildings for the processing of waste turn away from the inhabited world, even though they are making a positive contribution to society. They generate valuable resources, provide knowledge about the importance of embedding waste flows and reduce the number of waste sites, thereby indirectly improving the quality of the ecological and urban structures. Alamar’s Material Warehouse has been designed as an exposed machine where visitors can experience the flows of materials, the logistics and the activities involved. For the district of Alamar, whose out-of-the-way location makes it unable to profit from the tourism in Havana, it is a golden opportunity. Welcome to Alamar’s Material Warehouse!