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Pilot 2019: Seed Funding Global South - Project Summary

“Sustainable Building Bolivia” - International Network for Sustainable Building and Latin America

  • Department at TU Berlin: Chair of Design and Typology
  • Partner countries: Bolivia, Peru
  • Partner institutions: Bolivia: Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS),
    Universidad Técnica de Oruro (UTO), Universidad Autónoma Juan Misael Saracho (UAJMS); Peru: Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de América Latina (UCAL), Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI)
  • Mainly addressed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

    SDG   4:   Quality Education
    SDG   5:   Gender Equality
    SDG 11:   Sustainable Cities and Communities


The building sector’s ecological footprint is enormous; it uses 40 percent of global resources, which are already in extremely short supply at times. The dramatic scarcity of sand, for instance, has led to it often being illegally mined and smuggled, particularly in the Global South.

The aim of the project at the TU Berlin Chair of Design and Typology is to find suitable and precise architectural solutions that specifically address problems in Latin America and promote sustainable building. Within the framework of an international transdisciplinary research project on steel concrete skeletons in the improvised (and informally self-constructed) cities of Latin America, Prof. Jacob van Rijs and Dr.-Ing. Lorena Valdivia are working with international university partners in Latin America and Europe to contribute particularly to SDG 4 Quality Education, 5 Gender Equality, and 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, as well as to SDG 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production, and 13 Climate Action.

An international network shall be created in which teaching at the intersection of structural engineering and architecture is reformed and which contributes to improving innovation competences in teaching and research at all the participating universities of the Global South and North. Plans exist to request external-funding together with the partners in Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Thus, the capacity building of the participating partner universities from these countries in the field of "sustainable building" is to be supported. The project also aims to decolonize architectural teaching, integrate local and regional know-how, and incorporate innovative approaches into the collaboration and vocational training. It also wants to involve cooperatives of female construction workers in their role as principal income earners within the families.

The TU Berlin seed funding for cooperation with partners in the Global South enabled the Chair to undertake a trip to Bolivia to meet the partner institutions Universidad Mayor de San Simòn (UMSS), Universidad Técnica de Oruro (UTO) and Universidad Autónoma Juan Misael Saracho (UAJMS), consolidate the consortium and develop joint ideas and plans. It became clear, that the goal must be to strengthen the competences of the Bolivian universities and to develop joint innovative approaches for a “post-fossil city”. Furthermore, the curriculum development, modernization, and the internationalization of architecture training and education in Bolivia shall be strengthened. Due to the tensions in Bolivia at the end of 2019, it was only possible to make a short trip to Bolivia. Contrary to original plans, an additional meeting on short notice was arranged with the Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de América Latina (UCAL), and Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI) in Lima, Peru.

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