On Friday, April 5, it was time for another excursion with the scholarship holders of the Afro-Asian Institute. With the local train, we first went to Oberndorf and from there after a short walk across the Salzach river to Laufen. The destination was the architectural office of Anna Heringer. After a warm welcome in her very nicely and comfortably furnished office, we were allowed to immerse ourselves in a way of building and living that seemed rare to us. Anna Heringer lived in Bangladesh for a year from the age of 19 and learned there that the best development aid is to rely on readily available resources and not depend on external systems. She later tried to apply this insight to architecture. Today, she is primarily involved in building with natural building materials. There she has specialized especially in working with clay, for which she has already been awarded several times and has been allowed to realize projects, especially in Asia, Africa and Europe. In addition, she lectured about her method of clay storming at various universities, such as ETH Zurich, UP Madrid, TU Munich and GSD/Harvard.
Ms. Heringer made it clear to us that the scarcity of earth/sand/clay soil is indeed a problem worldwide since our current construction methods displace the earth and require or use significant amounts of cement and cement made materials such as bricks and concrete etc. However, this problem can be solved by a change of thinking. Namely, when we become more aware of the environment around us and realize that the earth we walk on every day is perfectly suited for ecological and sustainable construction. Earth that is displaced and dug out from construction sites can be used in the construction of other buildings. This allows maximised use of raw materials. Furthermore, this is sustainable because the building materials can simply be returned to the earth after use without any loss in quality. Worldwide, approximately 3 billion people live in buildings made of clay and earth. Anna Heringer is committed to increasing this number. In various projects, such as in Bangladesh, Ghana, China, Zimbabwe, Austria and Morocco, she showed that schools, kindergartens, offices, apartments and hotels can shine in modern design, despite or precisely because of sustainable construction.