The Awareness Workshop

ID 19008

Year 2019

Location Suzhou, China


Sofia Quiroga, Zuloark


#architectureworkshop #architecturestudents #openprocess #learningbydoing #architecturepedagogies #handmade #awarenessworkshop

Workshop week with students of Architecture and Industrial Design students from the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China.

Awareness. noun [ U ] uk /əˈweə.nəs/ – us /əˈwer.nəs/
“knowledge that something exists, or understanding of a situation or subject at the present time based on information or experience,

The “Awareness workshop” is a practical and theoretical exercise of environmental consciousness. The hypothesis of this exercise is that, when architects and designers know facts about the damage that the construction industry is causing the planet, it is more likely they make more ethical, committed and responsible decisions. The Awareness workshop is not about what is good or bad, it’s about the freedom to choose when one has access to knowledge.

Based on these precepts we proposed the “Awareness workshop”, were 35 Architecture and Industrial Design students from the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in #Suzhou (China) would collaborate to construct a resting area out of scrap material but also debate and gain knowledge on environmental facts that would be useful for their future as architecture and design professionals but to their daily lives as well.

We worked hand by hand, in teams of 3 or 4 students using and reusing university’s discarded, old stocked and non-used elements or equipment. Each team would design and construct their own prototype, while thinking on how they could relate with the others, so that all the prototypes would finally conform a solution as a whole. Every team was free to design their own prototype, however they had to respect the maximum measures given and occupation on plan. Regarding structure, each prototype needed to have a support base or counterweight, a bearing structure that would be enough to hold a canopy and hold plants on them.

During the environmental consciousness debate of the Awareness workshop we shared important facts about carbon footprint, carbon offset and brought to our attention the distinctions between the commonly used terms of reusing, recycling and upcycling:

CO2 FOOTPRINT: “The carbon footprint is defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide [CO2]. Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, can be emitted through the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.

Did you know that:

Chinese average carbon footprint per capita is 7,5 Tonnes/year (20,5 Kg/day)
USA average carbon footprint per capita is 16,5 Tonnes/year
World’s average carbon footprint per capita is around 5 Tonnes/year
The single industry of Cement production accounts for around 5 % of global carbon dioxide emissions
Producing a 25Kg sack of cement has a 22 Kg of CO2 footprint
A tree can absorb as much as 22 Kg of CO2 per year, that’s 0,06 kg/day

(Data referring to year 2019)

CARBON OFFSET: A carbon offset is a way to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere. Our everyday actions, at home and at work, consume energy and produce carbon emissions, such as driving, flying and heating buildings. Carbon offsetting is used to balance out these emissions by helping to pay for emission savings in other parts of the world.

Many of the carbon offsetting projects also provide wider benefits in addition to carbon reduction, such as biodiversity, education, jobs, food security and health & well-being in developing countries.


REUSE – Is the action or practice of using something again, whether for its original purpose (conventional reuse) or to fulfil a different function (creative reuse or repurposing). It should be distinguished from recycling. Reuse – by taking, but not reprocessing, previously used items – helps save time, money, energy and resources. In broader economic terms, it can make quality products available to people and organizations with limited means, while generating jobs and business activity that contribute to the economy.

RECYCLE – Recycling is the process of breaking down and converting waste materials into new materials and products. It is an alternative to “conventional” waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing: energy usage, air pollution (from incineration), and water pollution (from landfilling).

UPCYCLING – A process that can be repeated in perpetuity of returning materials back to a pliable, usable form without degradation to their latent value—moving resources back up the supply chain. Upcycling is described by some as reusing a material without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use. When plastic bottles are recycled, for instance, most often they cannot be turned back into containers associated with anything that can be ingested due to the risk of things seeping into the plastic. As a result, these usually become carpets, or toys, or winter fleeces: things that will eventually also become trash. Recycling has simply prolonged the inevitable by stretching out our waste stream and made the lifecycle costs of the material a bit less.